Scandal and the New Media – How Should Christians Respond?

By Jay Rogers

(Originally posted on http://www.forrunner.com on November 11, 2010. Note: This article is not copyrighted and may be reproduced in any form without permission.)

I got an email recently notifying me of an advertisement that U.S. Representative Bob Barr (R-GA) is appearing as a speaker on the Cruise for Liberty in January along with a couple of Christian authors whose work has greatly influenced me. The problem is that Barr, a former Libertarian candidate for president, brings a new meaning to the slogan, “Cruise for Liberty.”

Controversies over Bob Barr’s personal conduct

In 1999, during Clinton’s impeachment trial, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt offered money to anyone who could provide evidence that a prominent Republican had engaged in an extramarital affair. According to the American Journalism Review investigators for Flynt said that Barr was “guilty of king-size hypocrisy.” According to a sworn affidavit by Barr’s ex-wife Gail: Barr (a longtime outspoken opponent of abortion) had acquiesced to and paid for the termination of his then-wife’s pregnancy in 1983. In accordance with his public offer: Flynt subsequently paid a sum of money to Gail Barr after she had made her sworn affidavit. Barr never publicly disputed the contents of his ex-wife’s affidavit. Investigators also reported that Barr invoked a legal privilege during his 1985 divorce proceeding, so he could refuse to answer questions on whether he’d cheated on his second wife with the woman who is now his third.

In the early 1990s, Barr was photographed at a fundraising event licking whipped cream off of a woman. According to the Washington Post, “Two people who observed the act say it wasn’t exactly a bosom lick but more like a neckline lick, at the sort of event where business and civic leaders perform dares to raise money. ‘Not exactly Mr. Effusive’, says Matt Towery, the former chairman of Newt Gingrich’s political organization, who observed the brief and awkward licking. ‘You can hardly get the guy to smile.’”

I realize that conference speakers sometimes have to appear on a platform with people who they don’t agree with. However, this is billed as a Christian event with speakers who supposedly uphold God’s Word as a blueprint for liberty. It’s ironic that they feature Bob Barr, a man who is on his third wife and was accused by his second wife of having committed adultery and having paid for an abortion.

Or am I just being a busybody? Am I participating in scandal-mongering by posting this? Even if I knew nothing about the abortion and adultery allegations, it would still irk me that a man on his third wife is lecturing Christians about liberty.

The epistemologist (one who studies belief systems) should understand how compromise works to hijack our worldview. We end up allowing the worst demons of our own depravity to share a platform with the angels of our better nature. We wink at a little indiscretion from time to time due the excuse that we are “all sinners saved by grace.” We slowly allow this to turn slowly into an egregious violation of God’s moral law. In this case, the other conference speakers are winking at an allegation of adultery and murder through abortion. I don’t know if the allegations are true, but I also don’t see where other Christian speakers have addressed the propriety of appearing alongside this man.

To be completely fair, I should address that fact that the “dirt” on Barr was uncovered by Larry Flynt, a pornographer with an open political agenda, during the Bill Clinton impeachment hearings. However, it appears that the allegations were substantial and had enough traction to make it into the mainstream press. Here is an interesting article from the American Journalism Review that discusses the propriety of the “main stream media” exposing the Bob Barr scandal. It also discusses the role of the Internet as the driving force behind the “new media.”

The conclusion I have drawn after 15 years of administrating Forerunner.com is that the Internet is no different than a newspaper press except that it requires no money or training to publish. Therefore, scandal in the new media is so common that most take it with a grain of salt. The downside of this is that nothing is shocking anymore. If scandalous behavior becomes Internet “news” or is already part of public record for those who will connect the dots, then we are repeating what may already be found elsewhere. We should realize that allowing others to read public record and draw their own conclusions cannot be avoided. Most of the time people are commenting on what has already been commented on a thousand times before – Mel Gibson, Tiger Woods, Bob Barr, and so on – even before a civil suit can be written or jury can render a verdict. For better or for worse, the new media is the police, judge, jury and executioner of human character.

For many years, people found it acceptable for journalists to blow the lid off political and private life scandals if the story made it through the rigorous grid of ethical procedural journalism. This was their job. They knew best. Or did they? Now with the Internet, anyone may by pass through this ethical grid with no rigor. As Christians, we are dealing with a new species of animal with the ability to reach thousands at our fingertips in a few microseconds.

The ethics of doing so needs to be examined, but we’ve passed into a time when the genie is out of the bottle. By the time of the Cruise for Liberty in January, many of the attendees will know all about Bob Barr due to the Internet and they will have drawn their own conclusions.

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Jay Rogers is the Founder of The Forerunner International (a/k/a Media House International) and has been writing since the 1980’s. Jay has also acted as script writer and associate producer for several Christian videos, including The Real Jesus and God’s Law and Society. He has a heart for Missions, is a fierce pro-life advocate and activist, and is currently the Director of The Forerunner – http://www.forerunner.com . He and his lovely wife Kalia now live in Kissimmee, Florida.

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The Ministry of Prayer and the Reformed Church

So many conferences, so little time. Conferences for pastors and leaders in the church abound every year, and it seems as if the Reformed camp is the most enthusiastic about gathering in large groups to discuss theology, history, and any number of church practices. Not to mention the great times fellowshipping with like-minded people, catching up on each other’s families, showing off baby pictures, graduation pictures and the like..

But this article by Tim Challies really caught my attention, and I knew I needed to repost it.

Challies calls attention to something I think may be overlooked a lot simply BECAUSE the Reformed camp is so male centered – Prayer. (Ouch!) So, you male leaders of the Church, suck in your breath and start reading… and start praying (if you haven’t already been doing it).

“This isn’t an easy ministry. Nor is it a visible one; nor is it one whose results are easily seen. And yet they are committed to it. It’s all kinds of awesome.” ~~ Tim Challies on the ministry of Prayer

LINK: Notes from True Woman – Prayer Warriors

What Forgiveness is Not – Mark Driscoll

To truly understand the principle of forgiveness, you must also have an understanding of what forgiveness is NOT. Pastor Mark Driscoll explains this better than any other I’ve heard.

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Former Atheist: Christianity Really Does Make Sense

by Lillian Kwon (The Christian Post)

Holly Ordway was a highly educated atheist who thought Christianity was “a historical curiosity” or “a blemish on modern civilization,” or both.

“Smart people don’t become Christians,” she thought, according to Biola University.

Her worldview, however, began to change at age 31. She recounts her journey from atheism to Christianity in the recently released Not God’s Type: A Rational Academic Finds a Radical Faith.

“It is no light matter to meet God after having denied Him all one’s life,” she writes in the book. “Coming to Him was only the beginning. I can point to a day and time and place of my conversion, and yet since then I have come to understand that He calls me to a fresh conversion every day.”

Ordway, a professor of English and literature at a San Diego-area community college, wasn’t raised in any religious faith. She never said a prayer in her life and she never went to a church service. Her exposure to Christianity while growing up was minimal and her few encounters with Christians involved televangelists or hellfire and damnation preachers.

“Religion seemed like a story that people told themselves, and I had no evidence to the contrary,” she said in an interview with Biola University, where she is currently studying for her second MA, in Christian Apologetics.

To her, the Bible was a collection of folktales and myths – no different than the stories of Zeus or Cinderella.

“I was a college professor – logical, intellectual, rational – and an atheist,” she writes…

To read the rest of the article, Go here: Former Atheist: Christianity Really Does Make Sense

John Piper on why Rick Warren is speaking at the 2010 conference.

John Piper speaks on choosing Rick Warren to participate in the 2010 conference sponsored by the Desiring God Ministries.

Other speakers include Albert Mohler, Jr., R.C. Sproul, Thabiti Anyabwile, Francis Chan, and of course John Piper.

For more information on this much anticipated conference, go here:

Think: The Life of the Mind & the Love of God

Thirteen Souls (Africa Journal #1) by R.C. Sproul, Jr.

One of my many weaknesses is that I don’t, at least in my heart, believe that missionaries have weaknesses. I see them as super-heroes. How wonderful they must be to leave the comforts of home and family to go and serve. My mind knows better, but the heart has its reasons. Missionaries, I know objectively, are not super-spiritual people who do not sin. They are instead super-spiritual people whose consciousness of their own sin fuels gospel gratitude which in turn leads to sacrificial love for others…

To read more, Go here:

Thirteen Souls (Africa Journal #1) by R.C. Sproul, Jr.

Free Speech Rights Under Fire – Harassment and Death Threats Against Prop 8 Supporters

Source: Mapping Political Persecution by Chuck Colson

Posted 2/24/2009
http://www.breakpoint.org/

Dotting the streets on a certain online map are hundreds of red teardrops. Click on a teardrop at a particular address, and come up with the words, “Patricia Greenwood. Insurance agent. $100.”

Miss Greenwood had better watch her back. Angry supporters of same-sex “marriage” are using Google Maps to tell the world exactly where she lives, and that she donated money to support Proposition 8—the California initiative banning same-sex “marriage.” Now, I made up the name Patricia Greenwood, but the names and addresses on this map belong to real people.

The only point of identifying Proposition 8 supporters is to encourage people to harass them. And the tactic is working.

Opponents of traditional marriage have sent threatening emails and vandalized churches. They have forced supporters out of their jobs and boycotted their businesses. They’ve made abusive telephone calls and even threatened their neighbors with death. Hundreds of cases of harassment have been documented.

Ron Prentice, chairman of the pro-Proposition 8 group ProtectMarriage.com, says the message of the maps “is unmistakable: Support traditional marriage, and we will find you.”

This is unbelievable in a democracy. In fact, domestic terrorism is not too strong a word to use for what’s occurring in California—and it’s a reminder of what happened when citizens allowed similar tactics to go unchallenged in another time and place.

Seventy-odd years ago, Adolf Hitler turned loose his brown shirts on Germany. These vicious young thugs went street by street, seeking out Jews and communists and trade union leaders. They beat them up and destroyed their places of business. In this way, Germany, a strong country, was taken over by an evil man and regime.

How much easier the brown shirts’ job would have been with a Google map! If vigilante-type movements are allowed to bully their opponents, we’re not just talking about suppression of religious freedom. We’re talking about the undermining of the very character of democracy. Political zealots of every stripe will learn that if they cannot persuade their fellow citizens by reason, they can “persuade” us another way—with clubs, scorn, and social ostracism.

It could get to the point where people will be afraid to get involved in politics at all—and if that happens, it will sound the death knell of representative liberal democracy. This is precisely why laws were passed giving Americans the right to a secret ballot.

ProtectMarriage.com and the Alliance Defense Fund have gone to court to protect the privacy and free speech of those who contribute to future campaigns—and to protect them from harassment. They are challenging state campaign finance laws that force disclosure of personal information of those who donate even small amounts of money to political campaigns.

Campaign disclosure laws must balance the public’s right, of course, to know who is donating money to political campaigns with an individual’s right to privacy, freedom of expression, and the freedom not to be threatened for their beliefs.

And we need vigorous law enforcement. If we prosecute hate crimes, why shouldn’t federal and state prosecutors go after those thugs who are abusing innocent people for exercising their right to vote?

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Now a syndicated columnist, Charles Colson was once labeled a “hatchet man” during his tenure under former President Nixon and was feared in Washington and elsewhere by many in politics. Now as a repentant and devout Christian, Colson preaches a message of reconciliation to “the least of these” – prisoners and their families as well as crime victims and their families all over the world. PFM (formerly Prison Fellowship Ministries) was founded by Colson in 1976 and continues to minister to millions worldwide today.