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Spring 1996
David Barton - 03/1996

Media Bias or Worldview Conflict?

Bias. We often hear the media charged with it, but, in fact, no one is free from it. "Bias" is defined as a "mental tendency [or] preference," and everyone ­p; not just the media ­p; has a preference, or a bias. Each person talks about and promotes the things he agrees with, highlighting that which bolsters the reasonableness of his own beliefs.

Because many reporters and editors hold biases more liberal than those in their community, conservatives often complain when hearing media reports. Yet, this is only because the reporter's bias differs from their own.

The fact is, God-fearing conservatives have many respected voices in the media (e.g., Cal Thomas, Michael Medved, Don Feder, Rush Limbaugh, Robert Novak, William Buckley, Walter Williams, Peggy Weymeyer, William Murchison, etc.). Yet, when stereotyping the media, we tend to overlook or exclude these personalities since what they say rarely "crosses our grain" or stirs our emotions.

A bias is actually reflective of one's worldview, and there are two primary worldviews ­p; one secular, and the other theistic. In one, man is sovereign; in the other, God is sovereign. Those from each worldview typically promote their own while vilifying the other. Several Scriptures confirm in principle this timeless conflict. For example:

"They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us." 1 John 4:5-6 (See also Rom. 8:6-7 and others.)

Very simply, secular-minded individuals in the media will usually promote and speak of secular things. Consequently, they rarely report religious occurrences in a favorable light, or religious individuals as mainstream and reasonable. In fact, it is often the opposite: religious individuals are portrayed as insensitive and intolerant and their activities as divisive and harmful.

It is no great surprise, therefore, that when religious values or individuals prevail, such efforts are ignored by the secular-minded newspeople. Consequently, many God-fearing citizens wrongly infer that the absence of positive reports from mainstream media means a lack of progress. Such is not the case. As you will see, there is much cause for God-fearing citizens to celebrate.

In Oregon
Oregon was one of the many States directly affected by the 1994 voter revolution. Not only did both State houses have a change of political party, but officials claim that more Christians are now serving in the State legislature than at any other time in recent history. Consequently, the legislature is currently opening with daily prayer for the first time in forty years! Prior to this new policy, opening activities included having homosexual choirs sing or college professors recite poems on evolution; prayer was rare.

Now Chaplain Frank Carpenter not only personally opens many of the daily sessions with prayer (on other days, individual members invite their own pastors to pray), he also conducts a regular Bible study at the capitol with as many as forty legislators attending! (The Oregonian reports that "Christian conservatives have made a lot of progress since Leo Thornton was the sole evangelical in Oregon's House of Representatives in the late 1960s.") Furthermore, the Governor even declared the entire month of April as "Christian Heritage Month" rather than just setting aside a week as is done in many other States.

In Texas
For a number of years, the county courthouse in Houston prominently displayed an open Bible in a marble and glass case. In 1988, that practice ceased. According to the Houston Chronicle:

A granite monument displaying an open Bible inside a glass window in front of the Harris County Civil Court Building has angered the American Gay Atheists, whose director is requesting its removal. The rust-colored block of stone . . . has stood on the Fannin Street plaza since 1956. Commissioners Court today [August 23, 1988] will consider aga Director Don Sanders' request to remove the "religious" monument.

The Bible was eventually removed, but times have changed ­p; back. The 1994 elections produced a landslide of new conservative and God-fearing judges in Houston. One of them, Judge John Devine, led a successful campaign to return the Bible to the monument, and on November 18, 1995, a special reinstatement ceremony was held. According to Judge Devine:

The purpose of the ceremony was to restore the Bible to its rightful place as the foundation of the American legal system.

Judge Devine also noted:

It was brought out during the ceremony that the Harris County Courthouse is in the geographic center of Houston/Harris county, making the placing of a Bible there all the more symbolic of Christ's reign over human affairs.

Protecting the Traditional Family
Marriage is such an important and beneficial aspect of American life and culture that it is one of the few areas of civil law which experiences full reciprocity among the States (what the U.S. Constitution in Art. IV, Sec. 1 calls "full faith and credit"). In other words, a marriage legally performed in one State is valid in any other.

When this mutual recognition was enacted generations ago, it was never intended to include anything except heterosexual, monogamous relationships. However, current countercultural groups have combined with an activist judiciary to claim the protection of marriage laws never before extended to them.

For example, in Hawaii, a court case is pending which would declare same-sex marriages valid and entitled to the same protections and benefits as all other marriages. In March, San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown oversaw a ceremony "marrying" more than 100 gay and lesbian "couples." The ramification of such "ceremonies" is evident:
because of reciprocity, such "marriages" would legally be recognized in all other States.

While news reports have widely covered the activities in California and Hawaii, few reported on the huge public response against those actions. For example, some twenty-four States have already rapidly moved to enact laws refusing legal recognition to such "marriages" (however, few States have as yet had time to pass these laws). The substance of the laws being introduced in the various States declares, in part:

Purpose: To deny marital status to persons of the same sex, prohibiting the marriage of persons of the same sex, and to deny validation to marriages of persons of the same sex performed in other jurisdictions.
Section 1: Denying the right to marry someone of the same sex does not constitute sexual discrimination. A male may not marry another male and a female may not marry another female. Thus, both sexes are treated equally under the law. Denying the right to marry someone of the same sex does not violate the Equal Protection provisions either of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution or of the State Constitution.

(While many groups and individuals have worked diligently on this effort, one group worthy of recognition is the National Campaign to Protect Marriage, 11175 Reading Rd., Ste. 103, Cincinnati,
OH 45241, headed by Phil Burress of Cincinnati.)

Now is the time to contact your State legislators and let them know your thoughts about same-sex marriages and a "Marriage Protection Act." For a copy of this legislation, or for a current update on where this legislation stands in the various States, contact either WallBuilders' ProFamily Legislative Network at (817) 441-5526 or the National Campaign to Protect Marriage at (513) 733-8908.

Protecting Parents
Another arena in which the scope of protections has changed over
recent years is the area of parental rights. For generations, it was understood and accepted that children belonged ­p; first and foremost ­p; to parents. This truth, in fact, was so well recognized that no statutory declaration was needed.

However, what was once obvious no longer is. In fact, in the case State Board of Education v. Board of Education of Netcong, the court declared, "The courts for many years have held: Children are the wards of the State." Furthermore, one of President Clinton's recent nominees for federal judge had awarded a child to the homosexual partner of his deceased father rather than to the natural mother simply because the mother attended and took her child to Sunday School!

The current lack of explicit statutory protection for parental rights ­p; combined with the many laws that outline the responsibilities which schools, social service workers, and the State have toward children ­p; often give agencies and institutions more statutory rights over children than parents have.
To reverse this trend, some twenty-eight States have recently introduced "The Parental Rights Amendment" declaring:

1. The right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children shall not be infringed.

2. The legislature shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

(The movement to introduce this statutory protection in so many States has resulted from the work of various groups and individuals, but one organization very active in this effort has been Of the People, 2111 Wilson Blvd., Ste. 700, Arlington, VA 22201.)

As with the "Marriage Protection Act" described above, now is the time to contact your State legislators and let them know your thoughts about "The Parental Rights Amendment." For a copy of the legislation, or a current update on the States which are acting on it, contact either WallBuilders' ProFamily Legislative Network at (817) 441-5526 or Of the People at (703) 351-5051.

National Help
Additional good news is that protection for the traditional rights of parents is being sought not only at the State but also at the federal level. Representative Steve Largent (OK) ­p; an executive with Of the People ­p; has introduced H.R. 1946 in the House, the "Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act" (S. 984 is the Senate version). That bill, which currently has some seventy co-sponsors, declares that its purpose is "To protect the fundamental right of a parent to direct the upbringing of a child."

Call your federal Representative and Senator at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 225-3121 to let them know your thoughts on these bills and on protecting the traditional family.

Summary
Since these positive trends are only a few of the many occurring across America, God-fearing citizens must realize that a lack of reporting by the mainstream media on such stories is not indicative of a lack of progress. It only means that such reports and such movements are not newsworthy to many editors, and therefore are not reported. Nevertheless, there remains strong cause for optimism.


A Matter of Perspective

The 1994 voter revolution announced a clear pro-religion and pro-morality message. In fact, of the 73 Freshman, 46 have been characterized as strong and open Evangelicals, while others have been identified as Christians although not Evangelicals. In an apparent effort to minimize this preference shown by the voters, many in the media have described this Congress as "ineffective." Is this portrayal correct?

If success is to be measured by completely turning around every national evil in a single session, then this Congress has truly been ineffective. However, if more reasonable standards are used, this Congress has been very effective.

Consider the fact that this is the first session in years that Christians have not had several truly sinister bills to fight and defeat. For example, there has been no H.R. 6 (seeking to require national certification for Christian school or home school teachers), no national curriculum standards (but rather a rejection of them), no initiative to make sharing one's faith in the workplace "religious harassment" and a criminal offense. By and large, such bills have been killed in committee and never even brought to a vote ­p; a vast improvement over previous years. Furthermore, the nation is now debating numerous measures always silenced by the Congress in previous sessions (e.g., school prayer, pro-life issues, public morality, educational reforms, local controls, tax relief, etc.).

Although the new Freshmen have banded together with other Godly conservatives to kill a number of bad measures, they do not yet have sufficient numbers to pass many positive and sorely needed initiatives. In fact, Majority Leader Dick Armey (TX) recently told a gathering of pastors that there must be one or two more crops of such Freshmen who are people of faith (whether Republicans or Democrats) to gain sufficient numbers to make the difference. Yet, whether such reforms ever occur is not in the hands of the Congress; it is in the hands of voters. Therefore, if we want Congress to be effective, let's continue the voter revolution and strive to reach the goal set forth in Proverbs 29:2: "When the righteous rule, the people rejoice."


Food for Thought
A Correct Biblical Response is Essential

Much criticism towards people of faith comes from individuals in positions of influence ­p; often the media. When an individual or group becomes the subject of such criticisms ­p; even if accompanied with misportrayals or intentional distortions ­p; the first response should always be to examine and ensure that the criticisms were not deserved (cf. 1 Peter 2:16, 19-20; Romans 2:24). If they were unfounded, then be careful not to scorn or mock the source or to return an evil word against them (cf. Romans 12:17; Isa. 28:22).

Finally, pray for them (not against them!), asking God's blessings for their lives (cf., Romans 12:21; Luke 6:27-28). Remember His example: when He was reviled, He did not revile in return, but rather committed Himself to Him who judges righteously (1 Peter 2:23).


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