In 1798 the U.S. Congress passed a number of bills onto which President John Adams placed his signature. These measures are commonly known as the Alien and Sedition Acts. These bills were formulated and executed because of the fear of foreign influence within the newly formed United States of America. The U. S. Was on the brink of war with France, and there were many French within the states. Any one of them could be spies or terrorists or simply attempting to disrupt American life and politics. For this reason, the acts were put into place. Immigrants now had to wait 14 years, rather than the previous 5, to vote and be considered true citizens. Also immigrants could be deported if felt so necessary. There were other measures as well. The sedition act was a measure to curb what we would call “Fake News” today. It states, in part:
. . .[I]f any person shall write, print, utter or publish, or shall cause or procure to be written, printed, uttered or published, or shall knowingly and willingly assist or aid in writing, printing, uttering or publishing any false, scandalous and malicious writing or writings against the government of the United States, or either house of the Congress of the United States, or the President of the United States, with intent to defame the said government, or either house of the said Congress, or the said President, or to bring them, or either of them, into contempt or disrepute. . . being thereof convicted before any court of the United States having jurisdiction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars, and by imprisonment not exceeding two years.
This obviously was not a very popular measure among many Americans. This was, after all, an assault on the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. Is it not the citizens right to have free speech? Didn’t Voltaire often get quoted (and still does) for his, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”? Is it not an American right to deliver “Fake News”? It may be the right of Americans (the acts would expire or be repealed within years), but for Christians it is neither right to create, spread, or receive such news.
We are first and foremost citizens of heaven, not of America. As such, we have our own laws. We have rules of conduct as we represent our Most High God and King. Rules such as: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable–if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise–dwell on these things,” (Philippians 4:8, HCSB). Or rules such as: “But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head–Christ,” (Ephesians 4:15, HCSB). Or still more: “Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action,” (1 John 3:18, HCSB). Of course there is the actual command not to bear false witness and imperatives not to be a part of gossip.
We are first and foremost citizens of heaven, not of America. As such, we have our own laws. We have rules of conduct as we represent our Most High God and King.
Why? Because truth matters! God is true though every man be a liar. For His children to be about gossiping, lying, bearing false witness, spreading fake news is not simply a slap in the face to the children of God, but to God Himself. We as citizens of heaven should have been the first rather than the last to shout the injustice of fake news. We as citizens of heaven should decry any untruth that shows up on our social media pages. We must be, must be careful not to simply “like” or “share” any news story without it being supported by the truth. We have no right to spread any falsehood just because it supports our point of view (whether political, religious, or personal). As John Adams once stated: “Facts are stubborn things.” As Christians we ought to want to know facts. We ought not seek to spin facts our way, but rather seek to have the facts unadulterated. If we cannot stand on truth and factual argument then we are doomed. We have no credibility within the church or with those outside. We cannot claim to know the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, while sending people down the road of falsehood. As Paul wrote the Ephesians, “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another,” (4:25, HCSB).
As Christians we ought to want to know facts. We ought not seek to spin facts our way, but rather seek to have the facts unadulterated. If we cannot stand on truth and factual argument then we are doomed.
I call upon my brothers and sisters in Christ to reject Fake News. Expose it for what it is. Do not forward it through emails or speak of it in groups. Do not “Like” it on social media, but abhor it. Do not share it; don’t even think about it. It is not just dangerous to pizza parlors; it’s dangerous to your soul.
As always, I’d love to hear from my readers. All I ask is for respect. All comments will be published as long as they are respectful (even if they are in disagreement with me). If you liked this post, feel free to share it with others.