I’m a woman of strong Christian faith, and that comes with multiple assumptions in a largely secular society. That includes what I mean when I say I’m a “true Christian” and what others accuse me of believing once I define what that means. I’m honest and shameless about my Christian faith, though, so I give the definition of true Christian versus nominal Christian.
I see eyes roll or get silent stares when I share boldly with people that I have accepted Jesus Christ is my LORD and Savior. I’m reminded I’m not perfect when I say I live guided and transformed by His Holy Spirit.
Some think I’ve checked out from reality when I say He died on a cross at Calvary and was resurrected after three days in a tomb. I become a bigot against nominal or secular Christians or other faiths when I assert that His resurrection from the dead gave me God’s forgiveness for sins and is the basis of saving faith and eternity in Heaven.
When I share that I believe the Bible is the inspired word of God and I apply what God says there to all areas of my life, people are often aghast. Some get turned off; others defensive and a more than a few acquaintances have discounted my value as a human and friend altogether.
Some wonder about my sanity or intellect and ability to be as true a journalist as I am a Christian.
Christians Get Narrowly Defined
Like many true Christians, Christian journalists get associated with numerous negative characteristics. Many observers are convinced I can’t write about issues objectively because my faith makes I’m uptight and close-minded. I’ve been labeled an intolerant, phobic, bigot because I won’t write about some topics in a way that militates against my faith beliefs.
Even that I refuse to compromise my faith to accommodate secular world views to advance in my profession because Christian integrity requires I don’t separate my life into spheres might be negatively received.
In some minds, I can’t be very bright, either, because they believe true Christian faith is anti-intellectual. For them, Christian believers are lemmings who follow outrageous leaders who insist we judge every belief we believe contradicts our own.
Many who reject Christianity as they believe I practice it asserting I probably agree with every asinine policy, ideology or religious tenet that those who voted from Donald Trump do. I must hate Muslims and members of the LGBTQ community and want to deny both human rights.
I’m also presumed to be pro-birth (rather than pro-life), opposed to women controlling their own reproductive choices, deny climate change and support Israel unquestionably. Christians, many believe, are ignorant, dangerous, zealots who can’t be trusted to be investigative and hard news journalists or professional bloggers.
Be Careful—Your Reverse Bigotry Is Showing
Believing this idea about Christians, including Christian journalists, is like believing most Muslims, including Muslim writers, are terrorists who practice radical Islam and support ISIS.
It’s also like identifying most Jews, including Jewish writers, as radical Zionists, assuming they’re determined to remove Palestinians from the Gaza Strip violently.
The basis for those misconceptions is one-sided or salacious media coverage and government propaganda.
Neither is an accurate reflection of these faiths, and most people would think it unconscionable to make the same assertions about journalists of these faiths as they do about Christians. There are multiple, credible journalists of each faith whose integrity and ability to write objectively never get questioned.
That’s often not the case for Christian writers. But, it’s reverse bigotry to believe these misconceptions about us that are no less intolerant than believing them about other faiths.
“Christian Journalist” is Not an Oxymoron
What’s true of the majority practicing Muslim and Jewish journalists and bloggers is true of Bible-believing, practicing Christian journalists. Most of us reject Christian extremism, including the racist Christian Identity movement and cults like Westboro Baptist Church as an affront to God.
We may identify as evangelicals or fundamentalists but, we are as appalled as most other Americans, including many evangelical Christian leaders, that Trump is in the White House. We understand God permitted Trump to be elected but not that it’s His declared will because Trump character is inconsistent with God’s and he does follow God’s laws. He is not a man after God’s own heart like David was.
Genuine Christianity is permanent way of life that only independent thinkers can choose.
We also reject the current GOP-controlled Congress as representing the faith. It’s entirely possible to be a Christian who’s not an ultraconservative Republican or Republican at all.
That ability comes from an intense study of the whole Bible to understand it in each context. It’s the only way to rightly follow Christ’s true teachings which promoted love and justice. But, His Gospel provides His “Good News” which first denounces sin—like the bigotry above—because of its harmful results.
It’s not just a book of rules telling Christians telling us all the things we can’t do. It’s a book of liberation, prescribing salvation as a bridge between man and God through Christ for deliverance from sin’s destructive effects, including eternal death. Lived right, Christianity both promotes and leads to peace (which is not docility but the freedom from worry).
Genuine Christianity requires both sets of beliefs, and it’s a challenging, though most Christians believe rewarding, permanent way of life that only independent thinkers can choose.
Practicing Christians Are Students of Christ
What many people don’t know about the Bible, including nominal Christians—those who categorize themselves as part of a religion but who are not genuine followers of Christ Himself—is it was written to tell the story of Christ’s redemption of mankind. Christ is everywhere in the Bible, so when a Christian is studying the Bible, they are studying Christ.
The reason the Bible is credible to me is that it proves itself through historical events, prophecies, mostly about Christ, that came true. The stories are proven accounts. It’s also supported by scientific and archaeological evidence from non-Christians who are objective in the practice of their profession the way I am with mine as a journalist. I respect that.
With so much available to research, my journalism skills help me be an independent thinker as I study Christ through the Bible.
I have freed my mind from thinking bound by all kinds of ideologies created by other people to navigate or even control the world over the last seven years. Many people turn those beliefs into a religion that distorts their ability to think clearly.
When I identified myself as a Christian who was also a particular political party, my faith beliefs began to be shaped—or distorted—by those politics. I became a political independent seven years ago.
Today, I’m a believer who doesn’t to misinterpret the Bible based on someone else’s narrow translation. I don’t get so enamored with some human with clay feet that I don’t see God’s truths. Those humans only disappoint later when we learn later realities like most white Christian leaders supported a malignant narcissist for US president despite supposed reservations.
That’s why true Christians regularly study Christ and the Bible like a real physician studies medical journals. We use multiple trusted sources that are easy to understand to refine our comprehension. I have all 66 books on audiobook, and I listen to it continuously, gaining greater understanding and hearing new things each time I do.
Then, like devout Muslims do five times daily, serious practicing Christians pray regularly to be led by God’s Holy Spirit, not the evil spirit or some person’s prideful spirit. We’re careful not to be misled by our mind, too. Otherwise, just like in other faiths misapply their holy books to achieve spurious objectives, those calling themselves Christians can convince themselves what’s wrong is right then use Bible to support that lie.
When we’re studying the Bible, we’re studying the character of Christ and prayerfully allowing ourselves to be transformed by God, so we’re more like Him. We then consistently strive to apply what we’ve learned to each aspect of our life, including our work.
Practicing Honesty Despite Controversy
Because we are adherents to Christan faith principles, we believe journalists should be honest, fair, diligent in seeking stories and trustworthy to sources and editors. That takes courage and can come with a cost, but it’s imperative for genuine Christian to do, not excluding journalists. At least that’s true of me.
What I find strange is that people want me and other Christian journalists to tell the truth about the harm others have caused them and to be defenders and advocates of distributive justice. They expect me to reveal corporate and government malfeasance or discuss how cruel political, economic, and social injustice is to those targeted with it by other people.
Readers accept my deconstructing systems of oppression. They would vigilantly defend my right to do those things unless they are not or might become the subject of one of my investigative or hard news pieces
But, just as often, they want me to do it in a way that fits their world view or narrative, even if it contradicts my faith. Despite the consequences and the cost to my reputation, they want me to compromise my integrity and lie to make them comfortable. It’s as if they can’t be comfortable being whom they’ve decided to be unless I publicly support them through my journalism.
What those who would denounce me for my faith beliefs must recognize and admit is that it’s just as bigoted and intolerant to revile and attack me for my faith identity as it is to attack and revile someone for their ethnic, religious, sexual or gender identity.
Often, when I don’t, I face being subjected to the most severe punishments they can muster. There are economic consequences if I fail to drop my faith identity and approve entirely of theirs. In other words, I get attacked the ways they don’t want to experience for being or identifying as who they are.
I understand there are multiple areas of high controversy that have a Biblical basis. But, Christian journalists should not be automatically assailed and accused of bigotry in a misplaced attempt to silence them and keep everyone feeling safe.
Censuring Christian Journalists is Reverse Bigotry
What those who would denounce me for my faith must recognize and admit is that it’s just as bigoted and intolerant to revile and attack me for my faith identity as it is to attack and vilify someone for their ethnic, religious, sexual or gender identity. As long as I’m not causing others harm with my beliefs, I should be able to maintain them and express them without fear of retribution just like others demand they have a right to do.
It would be considered unconscionable to censure and silence members of the Jewish or Muslim communities for their faith beliefs, even around issues of sexual identity, though those beliefs are very similar to the Christian’s. But, those most bullied for what’s in their faith’s tenets are Christians, at least in the US.
As such, many people believe it’s perfectly acceptable to confront me based on my faith and demand that I prove I don’t believe what they think I must by denouncing tenets of my faith or be denounced. They don’t see that as reverse bigotry and intolerance. They see it as defensible to put me on the defensive and even justify my right to exist just as some, wrongly, demand they do based on their identity.
They expect me to remain docile and retreat silently when that happens based on their beliefs about how “real” Christians “should” respond to attack; especially one considered “African American female” therefore “inferior.” Their favorite Bible verse to quote out of historical context is “turn the other cheek.”
When Jesus walked the earth as a Man, to turn the other cheek would cause the person who has already slapped you with an open hand to face being reviled by committing the dehumanizing assault on another person by backhanding them. That kind of attack was meant to humiliate, insult or degrade a person. Most people then wouldn’t dare backhand someone who was their equal because it would be they who experienced humiliation from their entire community.
But just like those of other identities, not only am I under no obligation defend my faith beliefs, I’m under none to write in a way that proves I support anyone else’s choices about theirs. It’s in no way a backhand slap to say “no” to a person insisting I violate my own faith beliefs. I’m also not required by the Bible to accept or tolerate abuse as “part of my faith.”
As long as I’m not advocating the demise of those who don’t live based on the Bible as I do, I should not be subjected to the backhanded slaps of vilification and reverse bigotry. I should not be punished by public censure and humiliation for my faith identity in ways those others don’t want to be punished for theirs. I should not be expected to sit silently by if it does happen, like “a good Christian woman.”
Moreover, as my writing work shows of the past 15 years shows, I’m perfectly capable of writing objectively and challenging destructive systems of power. In fact, my faith improves both the quality of my writing and its integrity. It is that quality on which I should be judged, not my faith identity. That applies to every Christian journalist who adheres both their faith and the standards of journalism in their writing.
How to Deal with Practicing Christian Journalists
It’s a Bible admonition we all learn as children—at least most of us do. When it comes to issues of identity, treat others the way you want to be treated. We’re humans, too.
That means to avoid appearing to be an intolerant bigot when dealing with Christian journalists; you’ll need to be aware of your implicit biases that engender a negative visceral reaction. Unless we prove that our beliefs are based on a misinterpretation of the Bible rather than are just a disagreement with your own, you might be wise to check your assumptions. Don’t act on them and offend us because of some experience you had with others identifying as Christian.
After all, no every person identifying as practicing Christians is the same any more than all those identifying as Democrats or Republicans are. If you are someone who believes we are all the same and either bigoted or easy to manipulate, control or exploit, please don’t come for me based on your identity. Instead, do the important work to address your bigotry that will help make the world a safer place for us all to exist.
Finally, if my being a practicing Christian causes my work to be insulting to you, feel free to read others’ work rather than mine. I’m secure in my faith identity, so I won’t take it personally. I’m confident most other genuine Christian journalists will agree.
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(c) 2017. Dahna M. Chandler for New Fourth Estate Media, LLC. All rights reserved.