December 28, 2008

Warning -- Soapbox; Does the Truth need our help?

I grow irritated when believers distort the truth to create an emotional response in the hearer/reader. There are several Christian organizations that throw shots at people by taking a statement out of context or presenting only part of the truth. Sometimes, they use a provocative headline and hide the truth deep in the article so that only the patient or the persistant will find it. I'll give you an example. Here is a link to an article posted by One News Now, an arm of the American Family Association. Read the entire article and then ask yourself, "what does the writer want me to feel/think after reading his article? What truth has been presented here?" (Please go read the article before you read on, it's not long).

Now in the article, you are told what Rick Warren said, and he is quoted in some paragraphs. They do mention a video statement by Rick Warren on the Saddleback website, but do not post the link. However, I went to the website and watched the video statement. I encourage you to do so as well. Then I want you to compare the article and the video statement. Are the two saying the same thing? Does article accurately reflect what was truly said on the video statement, or have parts been deleted or rearranged to get you to think something else? Here's the link to the video statement: Saddleback Family News and Views - 12/22/2008.

I'd love to hear your take on this, perhaps I'm just being touchy. But at the moment, I am really perturbed. We have truth on our side. I do not believe God is glorified when we misrepresent the truth to get our point across.


  1. Richard, I read the article, and it did seem to imply that Warren endorses the gay lifestyle, but he just doesn't approve of redefining terms. And he claims that is not what he believes, if you listen to the tape.

    I firmly believe the gay community made themselves offensive when they decided to pick on someone as seeker sensitive and as moderate as Warren.

    While I appreciate Warren's desire for civility, and he does make it clear he believes sex is for marriage between a man and a woman only, I still don't know how far to take the "civility" thing.

    And there is so much in the Purpose Driven Life, and the 40 Days of Purpose that I find to be biblically off-base, that I do not endorse Warren's teachings.

    So even though the article you linked to did not represent his views accurately, and he explained himself well in his podcast, I remain not thrilled with either Obama being President, nor am I thrilled with Rick Warren praying at his inauguration.

    I hope that was civil enough! ;-)

    Right now what's making me angry is the media portraying poor Hamas and bad Israel for attacking them in Gaza. After months and months of thousands of bombs being lobbed from Hamas into Israel, and Israel not doing a thing. Finally, they start a much needed strike, and now they are the bad guys. Sick, sick, sick. I wrote a post about it, but turned off comments, because I don't want to deal with any comments, positive or negative. I just wanted to voice my view on the matter.

  2. Lynn - First of all, this post was from Mary. But she and I have discussed this topic a little bit offline and I think I have a good understanding of her point and am in full agreement with it.

    I agree with what you've said about the Hamas situation and it, too, is quite annoying.

    However, what Mary is drawing attention to in her post is the fact that Christian organizations sometimes choose to play fast and free with the truth in order to get the emotional response they desire from their readers.

    We Christians are supposed to be people of the truth. And if we are people of the truth, then all we need to do is present the truth to others and allow logic, thought, and the Holy Spirit to guide that truth home. When we purposely manipulate the truth in order to force our readers/hearers to our predetermined position, we have, in essence, lied. And that is not honoring to God.

    I am now on my way over to your blog to read your post, which I'm pretty sure I will agree with. I'm sorry you have the comments turned off on that one, but I understand. Responses to some of these things can be a bit more messy than we had originally intended.

  3. Lynn - I read your statement to Hamas and would be willing to sign onto that statement and have that letter actually sent to them. I don't know how Israel shows the restraint that they have shown all along. It's got to be rough when so many nations have a desire to wipe you off the map.

  4. I just now realized that post was Mary's, and oops, sorry, Mary! I didn't read the fine print labels!

    It's too bad Warren had to make that online presentation to clarify himself, and I agree the article distorted what he said.

    And while I'd say probably a good percentage of the media are unbelievers, and this case about Warren isn't apples to apples with the liberal media, what is going on with showing all the footage of what Israel is doing, while downplaying the thousands of bombs already lobbed into Israel from Gaza, amounts to the same kind of manipulation, which is why I mentioned it here.

    It's absolutely sickening on all levels, however it takes place.

    I just thought it was interesting that there was an article about distorting facts in order to leave a distorted perspective on truth, and although that recent blog article I wrote didn't say that -- that was the exact reason I wrote the article.

  5. OK, I'll open the comments up. I was pretty hot when I wrote it, but have calmed down some. I actually had to edit the post, not to get rid of inflammatory language, but to correct some items!

  6. I haven't yet had time to listen to Rick Warren's statement, and I'm willing to believe that he will clarify it to say that he doesn't really support gays' "having their partnerships."

    But I'll say this: He should have chosen his words more carefully. That sentence shouldn't have passed his lips. There is no context that can make that a wise sentence. If what he meant was, "I'm not trying to _outlaw_ homosexual relationships," he could have said that. But that's a lot different from "I'm not opposed to gays' having their partnerships." It was, taken the most charitably, a dumb thing to say.

    That does not surprise me. Rick Warren is a "moderate." I saw the touch-feely stuff he said back when he invited Barack Obama to be on his stage for an AIDS conference. Barack Obama's views on a number of issues are morally monstrous, and Warren is soft on him. He's into all this "we can get along with people who disagree with us" (on tearing children limb from limb? on not declaring them persons even after they are born?) and applies it specifically to people with very extrme views.

    So it doesn't surprise me that he spoke carelessly in this way.

    That's the most I'll say: It was careless. But if he doesn't want people to take such statements and put them in headlines, he shouldn't make them. He should say what he really means the first time.

  7. I agree with Lydia's remarks. I didn't say much, but I don't care for how far Warren is taking the need to be "civil." I was very uncomfortable with his accusations against "talk radio" for not being "civil," for example, in that online video. It is as though he is equating civility with personal righteousness. I, for one, am glad for the clear voices of Limbaugh, Hannity, and other conservatives Warren took a swipe at with that remark. Granted, he also spoke about the media in general, but that zinger against the few conservative voices there are in the media irked me.

    There comes a time to speak out, and to speak out in certain tones about what is right and wrong.

    And Obama's views on allowing these little ones to be torn limb from limb in the name of choice is ghastly, and I agree Warren is too soft on him in his effort to "respectfully dialogue" and "find common ground" and etc..

  8. I watched the video statement, up well past the relevant sentence. Yep, to be sure, he made it clear in the earlier part that sex is only for marriage, between a man and a woman. Good. But then he got himself going on explaining the fact that he doesn't "equate" homosexual acts with pedophilia, and in the course of telling us earnestly that he hasn't done that, he uttered the sentence in question: "I'm not opposed to gays' having their partnerships." He shouldn't have made that statement. My own inclination would not have been to put it in a headline. But the AFA story as a whole is pretty balanced and clear. I think they probably shouldn't have used that for a headline. But Rick Warren is insufficiently careful in what he says, because he's so concerned to prove that he didn't say something that he thinks would be over-the-top about homosexuality,a nd in the course of that he gets on a roll and says something that he apparently doesn't mean. Not good.

    For what it's worth, there was a much worse incident a couple of years ago in which Warren made some extremely foolish comments about Syria and then tried to deny ever having made them _at all_. Not just that they were taken out of context, but that he couldn't ever have said them, because no videos were taken on that trip, and so forth. Then the video was actually found on-line. I suppose at that point he could have just said, "Oops, yeah, I forgot, I did make those really positive comments about Syria," but he couldn't bring himself to do that. He dodged. It was pretty bad.

    So I think this is kind of of a piece. Warren speaks out of the abundance of his heart, a heart that has some good ideas but is moving increasingly to the left. And sometimes that undeniably results in his sticking his foot in his mouth.

  9. My point however, is this -- Check the One News Now site. I have had multiple dealings with AFA over the last twenty years, and they habitually twist the truth or hide it within flaming statements. I am not interested in dealing with Warren's behavior, that may well be a next post. To stay on topic with the post, I am asking again, is AFA/One News Now glorifying God by their repetitive misuse of the truth?

    We can't compare whether something one does (i.e. Rick Warren) is worse than another (Don Wildmon) --if it isn't right, it isn't right no matter who does something worse.

    Having been a victim of abuse, I am in agreement with Rick Warren when he says that you can't equate homosexual partnerships with incest or child molestation. They are quite different.

  10. Lydia, specifically, I must remark directly to the comment, "But if he doesn't want people to take such statements and put them in headlines, he shouldn't make them. He should say what he really means the first time."

    Everyone of will say things on a daily basis that make sense to us when we same them, but when we look back, we realize that they would have been better received if we had reworded them. I am learning to be more gracious as I've gotten older and am teaching my children as well to restate what we think we heard when something sounds askew. This is the 1 Corinthians 13 principle -- we need to give the speaker the benefit of the doubt and as a careful listener, make certain that we've heard it right by giving the speaker a chance to clarify it. The Pharisees were guilty of using Jesus' own words against Him, and I don't think you could make the same remark about the words Jesus used.

    More specifically, do we as Christians have a right, when we KNOW what the speaker meant, to create doubt in the minds of others about the validity of the statement? As defenders of the truth, I think we need to always represent the truth in its entirety and let the Holy Spirit do the heart work.

  11. And as I said, I would not have put that statement of his in a headline. But I think it would have been legitimate to ask him to clarify it. To that end, it would have been legitimate to quote it in the story, with several sentences of context.

    By his own showing he certainly _should_ "have a problem with gays' having their partnerships." This isn't just a matter of his being nicer, or whatever. It's a matter of an outright problem with the statement. Such "partnerships" are , the Bible says, an abomination.

    So, to make clear my position on the AFA, they were wrong IMO to put it in the headline as a definite report of Warren's position. The story text, however, does not actually focus on that specific statement and seems pretty accurate. And it would not be wrong to draw attention to the statement and to express concern about it.

  12. Hi Richard, I am confused. Are we to assume that a post has been written by you unless Mary's name is at the top? I am wishing you a Merry Christmas and all the best in the coming new year. Peggy in Fredericksburg.

  13. Peggy. It's great to hear from you.

    I'm sorry, but I have not yet figured out a good way to identify the authors of each post. I was posting our photos at the top of the posts for identification purposes, but was a little too busy recently to keep up with that. I was including those photos only in posts that might prompt discussion. The posts about family outings and Christmas songs did not include author identification, as I didn't really think it was necessary on those. I'd like your feedback about that though.

    I'll try to keep up with the photos and if you see Mary's name at the top (as one of the topics), you'll know it's from her. I'll try to remember to put my name there when they're mine as well. Mary's done a bit better of a job with that than I have.

    I trust you had a blessed Christmas, Peggy. And may God bless you richly this upcoming year. Fredericksburg is always so beautiful at Christmastime. I hope you got the chance to get out and enjoy your beautiful town.

  14. This has been a good discussion. I'm sorry that I haven't been able to keep up with it as it all progressed.

    Rick Warren is an interesting person. I have great respect for him and think he is a dedicated man of God. But at the same time I see many things in his ministry that I think are ill-advised. And with his recent entrance into national politics, he is treading some new and potentially dangerous ground. We've seen it before with such people as Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell. All of those men made terrible blunders in some of their statements regarding politics. And a future discussion of Rick Warren, and maybe even of the others I just mentioned, is warranted.

    But the topic of this post as I see it is Christian organizations using the worldly technique that Lynn so aptly pointed out of misstating the facts, eschewing context, and presenting half-truths in order to push the reader/hearer to believe something that is not technically true.

    And part of the process is the gamesmanship of preparing for the expected response, "Hey, you're lying." The Christian organization is prepared for that eventuality because if you read their entire propaganda piece you'll find some more of the actual truth and maybe even some context down in the fine print on the back of the page. This is reminiscent of Bill Clinton saying, "I did not have sex with that woman" and then later saying, "it depends on what your definition of is is."

    Quite clearly, we may expect such behavior from the unbelieving world. But Christian organizations should not stoop to such tactics. And I personally try to avoid supporting or using the products/services of organizations that do these things. My list of organizations that I will not support or patronize includes Vision Forum and American Life League for the exact reasons that Mary has so well described in this post.

    Christians need to hold Christian-owned organizations to a biblical standard and let them know when we are going to use the capitalistic retribution process against them by no longer purchasing their products. We need to tell them when we think they've been dishonest in their propaganda. This is being salt and light. Failure to do so is "sleeping with the enemy."

  15. Richard, I'm curious, what has the American Life League said that has twisted the truth? I've not read much from them, and I have never supported them. I'm just curious.

  16. Wow, Richard and Mary, when it rains, it pours. I glanced in the sidebar of this blog and went to Wade Burleson's blog. Here is an entry where a woman takes her one situation, which happened in one Southern Baptist church, and extrapolates her experience to the whole Southern Baptist arena, which she called a "denomination."

    I entered the conversation talking about Paige Patterson's counsel for battered wives, and how different his advice was from the SBC resolution about dealing with domestic violence, but then I realized that Patterson, who "proved" is point with one anecdote, was no different than this woman (named Mary) using her one situation to bash all SB churches. Take a look here.

    Truth is being distorted all over the place by Christians. It is very sad.

  17. Lynn - I probably have a bit more ammunition against American Life League than most because I worked for them for five years, so I had the opportunity to sit in the strategy sessions in which they developed their storyline (misrepresentations of people's positions intended to manipulate their supporters to their predetermined activist position).

    The most appalling one I remember was a campaign against Bill Gates, who they described as anti-baby because he would not give them a donation when they asked him for one. The fact that Bill Gates has contributed (in the tens of millions of dollars) to organizations whose missions are to help children (including Make a Wish Foundation, March of Dimes, and others) didn't keep them from attacking and impugning his character.

    They also went after Americans Against Abortion and National Right to Life, calling them pro-abortion because they didn't oppose abortion in cases of rape and incest. Although I oppose abortion in those cases, it is not truthful to say that those organizations are pro-abortion.

    They also sponsored a boycott on Disneyworld, claiming that Disney promotes the gay lifestyle. The truth was that Disneyworld made a statement after some complaints had been registered, that they would not ban anyone from their parks for any reason other than misbehavior in the parks or certain previous felonious activities (such as pedophilia).

    The complaints were registered because of "Gay Day at Disney." This is not a day promoted or sponsored by Disney, but is a day organized by the American GLBT Association. They gather all the aberrant sexual practice people together and have a big blow-out at Disney ("blow-out" might be too graphic a term to use in conjunction with that group). Disney stated publicly that they would not tolerate bad behavior (public sex acts, suggestive decorum, or indecent attire) but that they would also not tell a group of people that they were banned from having a special pre-planned day at the parks.

    Interestingly enough, the Browns (Judie Brown is the president of ALL) took their grandson to Disneyworld during the ALL-sponsored boycott of Disney because we held a rally in nearby Tampa.


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