Wednesday, May 5, 2021

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Rants & Reason

Fake news? How about fake scripture for church and state?


With the concerns about “Fake News” and having churches even more active in politics, the Christian religious right risks becoming a contortionist as it accommodates the teachings of its religious saviour and the ravings of its adopted political saviour.

The answer to their prayers may be a new edition of scripture — sort of a fake Bible, the “Fake Good News.”

Granted, the task is daunting. You see, for the Old and New Testaments, a Bible concordance lists 39 references to “true,” 80 references to “truly” and 130 references to “truth.” That’s heavy-duty truthy stuff for a church to cope with if it is active in a political system awash in lies.

But as Kellyanne Conway, an acolyte for the America-First White House might say, “We’ve had the King James Version of the Bible for more than 400 years [since 1611].  Sad! We should have ‘the greatest book ever written’ finally live up to that characterization with a King Trump Version [KTV].”

At first glance, the KTV or Fake Good News Version looks promising.

Prep Iowa

After all, does the Pontius Pilate question “What is truth?” (John 18:38) differ much from the question lots of us have today, “What are alternative facts?”

Let me hear a “Hallelujah!” or an “Amen!”

And the Fake Good News could be a best seller among many politicians who would shout from the stump and declare from Congress a new take on John 8:32: “You will know the alternative facts, and the alternative facts will set you free (or at least get me re-elected).”

Okay, that’s only two of some 250 truthy listings in the concordance, but it’s a start. Problem is, it’s only a start.

For one thing, how would the new KTV revise the Sermon on the Mount, which comes close to saying “Blessed are the losers”? The entire Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) is Trumpian heresy today.

Also, writing the KTV might get bogged down in recasting almost 800 biblical references to love and maybe 440 to faith. [Variations on humility and justice are about 40 and 180.] The fact is that religious beliefs that faithfully deal with such concepts as love, humility and truth don’t mix well with support of Trump. (Matthew 24: 11: “…many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”)

Maybe the problem today isn’t so much with “fake news” as it is with “fake citizens” and “fake public servants.” Here we are almost hogtied by “fake news” when the world has never had as much access as we do today to factual information or at least to other points of view or counterpoints that may challenge our cherished beliefs.

Check out on the Internet the latest outrage emailed to you by a fellow believer. You’ll often find that it’s a lie that popped up several years ago, was roundly discredited only to resurface time and time again because it reinforces one wacko belief or another.

But fake citizens love such stuff because it replaces the hard work of democracy with the easy and comforting ways of bigotry and self-righteousness. Amen!

That fits in well with the fake public servants who spend so much time raising money for re-election so they can push more laws that serve the interests of contributors and mollify fake citizens.

Or at least some citizens, because another group that qualifies for the “fake” label are those who gripe and then don’t vote because “it doesn’t matter; all those politicians are the same.”

So they take the easy or cheap way out and give up. Hard to blame them at times.

Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, executed by the Nazis in April 1945, chastised Christian believers for wanting “cheap grace” — expecting salvation and the benefits of discipleship at no, or little, cost.

One might say a problem we have today is citizens wanting “cheap democracy” — the benefits of self-governance with little of the work self-governance requires, like informed voters showing up in legislatures and at the polls instead of at post-election rallies and protests.

Let me hear a “Hallelujah!” or “Amen!” ♦

strentz21Herb Strentz is a retired administrator and professor in the Drake School of Journalism and Mass Communication and writes this monthly column for Cityview.



One Comment

  1. Sam Lukes says:

    Dear Herb Strentz (Retired professor emeritus of journalism at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa):

    I just read your February 28, 2018 article (The Fresno Bee) in reference to a question you posed to Dr. Billy Graham at his eight-day crusade in Fresno, California in 1962. Your query was: “So what do you say when you miss a putt?” You then went on to say that Pastor Graham replied: “Oh, I guess I say the same as anyone else.”

    I was at that same crusade and I attended all eight days. I remember his quote as being: “I don’t say it, I think it.” I have kept his candid reply in my head for 56 years!


    Sam Lukes (Visalia, California)

    Note: On February 26, 2018, The Fresno Bee published a letter I penned in their OPINION page about evangelist Billy Graham titled: “Life lessons from Rev. Billy Graham” that you might find interesting.

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