“Some of you may wonder why I have taken a stand regarding our President’s battle against journalism. As a preacher of the Gospel, I consider myself to be a journalist. To the best of my ability I report the truth as I have witnessed it. I report on God’s on-going activity. And like all journalists with integrity, I care deeply about the truth. An attack on any truth whether it be of a political nature, scientific nature or spiritual nature, is an attack on all truth. By calling honest reporting “fake news” our President, whether he intends it or not, is undermining truth itself. I encourage you to take a stand for truth. Demand truth. Support truth. Live for truth. And if need be, die for truth.”
That was a facebook post from the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Garland where I still hold an affiliate membership after almost 40 years. I couldn’t be prouder of Paul than if I were his own sister. Because he has put my own thoughts into words better than I could have done myself.
I studied journalism in high school and in college. In high school they took us on a field trip to visit the Dallas Morning News. After seeing the newsroom and presses they took us outside and stood us in front of their iconic façade:
In case you don’t have your glasses here’s what is carved in stone on the front of the building of the newspaper I was raised reading every morning:
Build the news upon the rock of truth and righteousness. Conduct it always upon the lines of fairness and integrity. Acknowledge the right of the people to get from the newspaper both sides of every important question.
And just in case you didn't get the part about "both sides of every important question" right there on the curb in front of their building there is a line of newspaper boxes holding their competitors' papers so you can read them, too.I grew up reading a newspaper that operated on those principles but I also was taught those principles. In every journalism class I ever took two things were drilled into my head: (1) Get the facts right and (2) make sure you spell people’s names correctly. Each one of those principles were sacred and breaking either rule was a violation of the highest degree. In one case competence and in the other ethical.
But Paul Burns takes journalism to an even higher calling when he reminds us how important truth is. There’s even a scripture where Jesus tells us that He is the Truth. John 14:6
The scriptures also tell us God is love. I John 4:16
And Jesus tells us that we should love each other. John 13:34-35
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Truth and Love are two things that are in particular danger now and I worry about them a lot. One of the pastors I had before Paul Burns introduced me to a phrase that has served me well, “Speak the truth in love.” We are going to need a lot of that in the days to come and we’re going to have to reach down deep within ourselves to be able to speak that truth to power and to do it with love.
This is going to be hard and people have already lost friends over the issue. But the thing about truth—the very definition of truth—is that it doesn’t change. The truth will be waiting. When all the dust settles the truth will still be sitting there unsullied. Unbowed. Unchanged. True.Like Jesus.