‘A positive article about religion’

Published 8:57 pm Saturday, September 28, 2013

Though I like to keep an eye on the comments section of our newspaper’s website in order to make sure nobody’s abusing the terms of service, to look for the occasional story idea and to try to gauge reader opinions about various stories in the news, I try not to get too caught up in the discussion.

The comment boards are for our readers, and I don’t want folks to feel that I think I always need the last word on an issue. Everyone has opinions, and I’m glad we have a venue where folks can share and discuss their own opinions, even when they don’t match my own.

Regular readers of this page will recognize that I have a certain set of core beliefs whose foundation is in my faith in Jesus Christ as my savior, that I value a personal relationship with Him over the rituals of any religion or denomination and that — when I’m living within that relationship — it shapes every part of my life, including the words that I pen for this page and the choices I make regarding coverage throughout our paper.


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So I was surprised recently when I saw a comment at the bottom of a recent story by staff writer Matthew Ward about the recent See You at the Pole student prayer event at Nansemond River High School.

“I am surprised to read a positive article about religion in a liberal rag,” the commenter wrote. “The local democratic socialist must be upset over this.”

Clearly this reader has missed many of the stories we’ve covered — the prayer breakfasts, the mission trips, the outreach programs, the new pastors and more we’ve written about and the many columns I and others have penned about faith.

That’s OK. Not everybody reads the paper every day. And it occurred to me as I was thinking about the comment that it probably reflects a general condemnation of the way journalists see faith as much as a specific complaint against the Suffolk News-Herald. Indeed, in that regard, the commenter and I are largely in agreement.

For example, take a recent, widely reported statement about religion by controversial candidate for lieutenant governor E.W. Jackson, who said non-Christians follow “a false religion.” The statement has been seized upon by the Democratic Party and the mainstream media as another of Jackson’s “extreme” views and evidence he is not fit for statewide office.

But Jackson makes no apology for his Christian faith, and the Bible is quite clear about the status of religion centered on anything but Jesus Christ.

In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” (NIV) Standing before the rulers, elders and scribes of Jerusalem, the apostle Peter spoke of Jesus and restated the proposition, as recorded in Acts 4:12: “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Folks can surely reject that message — and many do — but it would be hard to describe someone who does reject it as a follower of Christ. Conversely it’s somewhat disingenuous for the media or the Democratic Party — which both claim, at least, to be tolerant of Christian beliefs — to condemn Jackson for restating such a basic tenet of his faith and one that’s so clearly stated in Scripture.

In truth, there are very few “positive” stories about true Christianity in the mainstream media. For the most part, the Christianity that gets positive coverage there is a false religion concocted by people who refuse to acknowledge the sovereign deity of Jesus Christ.

But as long as God continues to allow it, I’ll keep proclaiming the truth — and looking for others willing to do the same — right here on these pages.