Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Right-wing Christian Problem with Truth

The Christian Post may be one of the most dishonest newspapers I’ve ever read.  I try to diversify my media sources to sample what people across the political spectrum think and how they spin world events, but the Christian Post surpasses the bias of Fox News by far.

Recently, when Pat Robertson made his infamous claim that gays use special rings to cut people and spread HIV, I was curious to see how the Christian Post would address that.  By the time that story surfaced there, it was clearly doing damage control for CBN.  The subject had been masked in the misleading headline “Pat Robertson ‘700 Club’ – Some Homosexuals in SF Spread HIV/AIDS on Purpose”, as if his claim were a valid public service announcement, ignoring that his quotes were only in the mainstream media in the first place because it was absolute crazy talk.  Sorry, but you can’t spread HIV just by cutting somebody, this lie is quintessential homophobia as its only purpose seems to be to make ignorant people afraid to even shake hands with a gay person.

The following week, the Christian Post ran a rather unusual human interest story about a self-proclaimed “former Satanic drag queen”, Trace McNutt (strangely, that’s not his/her drag name), who converted to Christianity and became an Ex-gay leader.  This rather typical anti-gay smear story includes an exceptional claim that the Christian Post quotes unquestioningly, in which the former drag queen alleges to have been miraculously cured not just of homosexuality, but also of HIV:

“They can’t even find the virus, even in my blood,” he explained. “I believe it’s God’s grace keeping me healthy, and modern medicine is also playing a role.”

This is a carefully crafted deception aimed at Christians who are largely ignorant of HIV/AIDS.  In reality, what this is basically saying is that he’s been adherent to his antiretroviral meds to the point that the virus has become undetectable.  This is the expected outcome for all HIV patients in treatment today.  It’s not a miracle, it’s just modern science.  It’s also irresponsible journalism to report such an outlandish claim without any substantiation.  Their Christian audience, taking this at face value, now has unrealistic expectations of ex-gay conversion therapy.  At its worst, Christian politicians and voters will base gay rights public policy decisions on these lies, when the sobering truth is that it now definitely appears ex-gay therapy is as bogus as McNutt’s claims of healing.

Perhaps it’s the zeal of the convert, after all it’s not unprecedented for an evangelist to embellish their salvation stories to sell books, like Tom Papania’s unforgettable ex-mafia fraud back in the 90’s.  False teachers are always a persistent problem in the church, but the bigger problem is that it always seem to be the same sheep that fall for it.  Tom Papania fleeced the Focus on the Family listeners, the same audience that buys into the junk science of ex-gay therapy today.

If it was only ignorance about HIV, perhaps they could be excused.  Unfortunately, the Christian Right-wing gets it wrong in so many other areas as well.  Obama is the Antichrist.  You can’t get pregnant in a “legitimate” rape.  Anti-vaccine, anti-science, and anti-conservation movements are all flourishing under the banner of conservative Christianity, and unfortunately also hindering public policy with misinformation.  Don’t misunderstand me, I’m unapologetically pro-life, but the pro-life movement cannot successfully oppose abortion if their reasons against it aren’t grounded in biological facts.  Skepticism about climate change is still no justification for America’s gluttonous use of natural resources and pollution of God’s earth.  I’m not a big fan of President Obama, but if your main reasons for disliking him are based in lies (ie: saying he’s Kenyan or Muslim), then your criticisms have no credibility.

The typical reaction from fellow Christians when I criticize the Christian media is for them to point the finger at the so-called “liberal” media, saying “they do it too!”  I’ll admit, there can be spin on both sides sometimes, but this shouldn’t be the norm for reporters that profess to be Christians.  I would expect this sort of thing from Glenn Beck, because he belongs to a religion that was founded on lies and deception, but it discourages me to see other Christians display such a blatant disregard for truth.  Sadly, the Right-wing has come to value their political positions more than they do the supporting evidence to arrive at those conclusions.  I have no problem holding Christians to a higher standard, since we claim a higher standard of truth than the rest of the world.  A news outlet with Christ in its name should be the most truthful newspaper in the world, not a shamelessly partisan rag for ignorant people to feed their confirmation bias.

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September 21, 2013 · 5:49 am