Fairness Doctrine Unfair?

Categories: General
by on December 4th, 2008

But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20)

Many conservative voices are raising concerns that liberal politicians will be making a move to silence conservative talk radio and television. It is argued that this will happen by Congress making the Fairness Doctrine law. It is argued that main stream media or as Rush Limbaugh calls it, the “drive by media” will then have a strangle hold on information and will filter it through a liberal grid. They will not allow conservative response but if a radio or television station dares to have a conservative voice a point of view that conflicts with liberal ideology, liberals will demand “equal time.” Stations won’t want the hassle or expense and this will effectively silence any dissent and eliminate free speech. There seems to be some merit to this since Senators like Chuck Schumer compares Fairness Doctrine to regulating porn. He suggests that we (conservatives) would not want pornography allowed to run unregulated on television or radio and so why shouldn’t conservative ideas be regulated as well.

The ACLJ calls The so-called “Fairness Doctrine” — Extremely Dangerous Legislation Some religious broadcasters are concerned about this as are some pastors. If this happens over the air waves why not in conservative publications and even churches? It is an interesting question and is also a possibility. I am not one to succumb to conspiracy theories and am not suggesting that this will happen but since censorship of dissenting voices has happened in other cultures at other times in history we must grant that this is a possibility. In light of Schumer and other liberal leader’s views and past attempts at this I see no reason they would not press it again in the next few months.

How will this impact the church I terms of evangelism and discipleship? In Sweden it is already against the law to preach against homosexuality. In 2004 Dr. Albert Mohler wrote in his blog article Criminalizing Christianity: Sweden’s Hate Speech Law:

Ake Green, pastor of a Pentecostal congregation in Kalmar, Sweden, was sentenced to one month in prison on a charge of inciting hatred against homosexuals. Pastor Green was prosecuted for his sermon in a January hearing, where he was found guilty of “hate speech against homosexuals” for a sermon preached in 2003.

This was a sermon inside a church, from a pulpit, teaching (part of discipling) believers, drawing from the biblical text. As Dr. Mohler pointed out in 2004, “In Sweden, biblical preaching is now a crime.”

The “Charter for Compassion” asked the world to help craft online charter for religious harmony. If effective these sorts of attempts would eliminate the right for any one group to hold to an absolute which by its nature would hold competing truth claims as false.

Aside from the constitutional issues involved, and there are some, this raises other questions for me. The church in America has had virtually unchecked opportunity to proclaim the gospel. It has done so with little fear of retribution. Even at that it is difficult to get individual believers to share with their friends and acquaintances for fear of being embarrassed or being asked a question they cannot answer. If Schumer and Charter for Compassion have their way that may effectively close down the church. Or will it?

Those churches and ministries who have tried more and more to look like the world will likely go on unaffected. Attendance will continue and messages designed to make them feel good will remain the staple and elimination of any “controversial” exclusivistic gospel which is currently given a few times a years will not much be missed. Other churches and individual believers will be strengthened in their evangelism, like the disciples in Acts 4.

The religious/political leaders were threatened by the very public nature of the ministry of the followers of Jesus. Their deliberation is enlightening:

What shall we do with these men? For the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place through them is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that it will not spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no longer to any man in this name.” (Acts 4:16-17)

I began this with their response:

But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20)

I have been greatly encouraged at my home church. The pastor preaches from the Bible and with regularity mentions to the congregation that this is what we do here. If they are looking for something else they should attend somewhere else. I like that. If preaching the whole counsel of God (including the sections about homosexuality) becomes illegal, the pastor and elders will likely end up in jail. I know a number of pastors who, like him, are God sensitive. Perhaps these new laws could be the best thing to happen to Christianity. It would serve to separate believers from socializers I think.

One response to “Fairness Doctrine Unfair? ”

  1. So long as we have even an iota of the true meaning of separation of Church and State, this should not happen here. But as we have only that small understanding, that the separation is meant to protect the Churches rather than the State, it may be a small leap. I don’t expect the legilating of religion, but, sadly, it isn’t out of the question.

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