The mainstream media in the U.S. has become so riven by Left and Right ideological partisanship, and reduced to strident propaganda megaphones for either the Democrats or the Republicans.
But it must be said that those on the Left are now far worse, being willing to go to incredibly dishonest lengths to get what they want. Don’t believe me?
In relation to the recent election, two significant media outlets have confessed that it was their explicit goal to get rid of the Bad Orange Man. Both Time Magazine and CNN have journalists who have come out and freely confessed that they did their best to swing the election for Biden, on the basis that it was “necessary” to save the country.
The fact that they think that they are the best equipped to know what the country needs, and that the voters cannot be trusted to come up with the right answer, is disturbing enough as it is.
But the way I see it, if the public know the media are irredeemably biased in their reporting, and they therefore have nobody they can trust, this just reduces everyone to rank cynicism, which can only lead to chaos. Indeed, this is where the U.S. seems to be heading.
This cynicism was brought to my attention last week in an article in The Spectator Australia by Ramesh Thakur, “Democracy Dies When The Media Lies“, which cites annual polling undertaken by the Edelman Trust Barometer in their 2021 survey:
CEO Richard Edelman commented: “media sources are seen as politicised and biased. The result is… increased divisiveness”. Most Americans “find the political and ideological polarisation so extreme that they believe the U.S. is in the midst of a cold civil war”. The U.S. was among 13 countries with a net trust deficit in the media, with only 42 per cent trust.
Their polling shows a similar belief regarding media bias here in Australia, though I don’t think we share anything like the kind of social and cultural dysfunction we’re currently witnessing in the U.S. In truth, we Aussies tend to turn cynicism of politics into a kind of mild, benign art form.
But if you ask me, this cynicism directed towards the media, which is then also projected onto politics, can only trickle through to a more generalised mistrust of any and every claim to truth. This in turn hardens the communal heart to the message of the Gospel — the greatest and most important message of objective truth.
This is because cynicism has the gradual effect of turning one’s thoughts inward, to find a kind of protective reality inside one’s own worldview, while quarantining this worldview from alternatives — conflicting views in particular.
Combine this with Francis Schaeffer’s prophetic description of the two primary aspirations of people in the future: peace and prosperity. Peace Schaeffer defined as the overriding desire for a life unruffled by trouble; and prosperity, he explained, is the affluence of acquiring more and more material goods. When this attitude takes hold of a person, their hearts are effectively locked shut to any outside influence beyond their own mindset.
I think the slang phrase from the 1990’s, “Talk to the hand, cos’ the face ain’t listening” sums up this mindset perfectly.
So how do we, as Christians, combat this societal facepalm, especially as we see our culture being ‘white anted’ by Woke political correctness and ‘cancel culture’? We must consider that the situation may only become worse before it improves, leading to the distinct possibility of actual persecution.
This view is supported by fellow contributor Kurt Mahlburg, in his book, Cross and Culture. In that book, Kurt quotes a spokesman for Open Doors, who contemplates the distinct possibility of certain Western nations being included on their annual persecution “Most Dangerous 50 nations” list:
From my perspective, this could be the last decade where we are still enjoying full freedom of religion.
First, I believe it’s time we begin to read Scripture from the perspective of persecution. After all, a number of times in the Gospels, Jesus warns us to expect it as a matter of course. I am constantly amazed at Paul in Philippians, where he muses so dispassionately in one chapter about whether or not his imprisonment for the sake of the Gospel will lead to death or deliverance (Philippians 1:20-22), yet shortly after, in an explosion of joy in Philippians 4:4-7, Paul exhorts the Philippians thus:-
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all people. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (NASB)
There is no other situation where our safety or very life is threatened, that peace is both necessary and surpassing all comprehension.
Second, we will need to be authentic and Christlike in everything we think, say and do (see Matthew 5:10-16; Romans 13:12; Ephesians 5:9; 2 Peter 2:9).
Third, as public worship, confession and displays of our faith become marginalised, or even penalised and restricted to the private sphere, we will have to pivot in our mission. It will be in private situations and one-to-one witnessing where we will see the same kind of remarkable fruit now visible in the persecuted world.
Finally, our God is good. We may not understand why the times are as they are, but as Christ’s death and resurrection show us, God’s plans stretch beyond the present moment. What often appear like defeats are ultimately victories in disguise.
So even if things go from bad to worse, which they undoubtedly will, we are going to need to hold even more firmly to the Truth. Our calling is to convey the Truth to an increasingly sharply divided and cynical world in which we become increasingly marginalised. This is part of the cross we bear, but as Philippians reminds us — it will be for our ultimate, eternal joy.