It’s painful to see phony news from fake news websites appearing on my Christian friends’ Facebook feeds. It’s even more painful to be “unfriended” after challenging them.
Did ABC News Say the President Banned the Pledge?
This item on abcnews.com.co mashes up a photo of a very young President Obama with an entirely made-up “news article” about a ban on the Pledge of Allegiance.
How is it that people don’t recognize that abcnews.com.co isn’t the website for ABC News? How is it that Christians are disseminating falsehood as if it is truth?
9 Fake Charts from the ‘Federal Reserve’
Here’s another piece of misinformation I got via a Facebook friend. It claims to be a set of very dismal economic condition graphs from the Federal Reserve of St. Louis, which produces the Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) charts.
Only thing is: this matrix of economic indicators is produced in the wrong colors, with all the wrong typefaces and the Fed’s logo pasted in the wrong corner of the graphics — not to mention made-up data.
Has Family Income Really Plummeted Under Obama?
Here’s the real Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) chart about Median Household Income, which tells a very different story than the chart that appeared in the matrix on americanelephant.
During the Obama administration, despite a three-year “recession,” family income has dropped only about $1,500. It was (briefly) higher during the administration of George H.W. Bush, and higher for somewhat longer under Bill Clinton’s presidency. Before Clinton, family income was always lower (in “current year” adjusted dollars).
If this chart is totally phony, what am I to think about the other eight?
Smart, Successful, and Snookered
What is most difficult for me to understand is how Christian friends who are smart and successful — including a Realtor® and an internationally renowned artist — are being deceived by such blatant lies. A British Christian friend asked me if American Christians were giving in to “itchy ears.” I didn’t have a good answer.
I am not arguing (at this moment!) with the political choices other Christians may make. I just want us all to do our best to seek truthful foundations for our decision-making, and to avoid spreading untruths.
I am not suggesting that any of us are able to gain all the information we desire from direct contact. Most of us don’t have direct access to presidential candidates. Most of us probably don’t even have enough access to our members of Congress to be able to say with confidence we know what kinds of people they are and how closely their views align with our own. We need to rely on others we trust for information about people in public life.
How Can You Recognize Truth in Media?
The challenge is to determine how we identify trustworthy news sources. Is a source “trustworthy” because it is presented in my church? Because I agree with it? Because it looks more or less like a reliable news site? Unfortunately, none of these is an adequate test in the universe of Photoshop and home-brewed web sites. Each of us needs to find quality resources for testing the words of others, just as the Bereans tested the words of those who preached. Otherwise, we’ll find ourselves showing the world that Christians don’t care about truth — even though we claim that the Truth can set people free.
Spreading false information can damage each of our reputations personally and will also tarnish God’s reputation as the world sees God through us. I urge my American Christian brothers and sisters to be careful that the information you spread is not clearly fabricated. Let your political discourse bring glory to God above all.
After I sent this as a message to a Christian friend who was sharing phony “news” items in her Facebook feed, I discovered that I’d been unfriended. I can’t see “unfriending” as a godly response to disagreement or even reprimand. God cares a great deal about the unity of God’s people. I pray that we all keep the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace through this trying election year.