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Exposing the Layers of False Reporting

September 19, 2006

C. S. Lewis had a gift that even his enemies had to grudgingly admit to. When they confronted the Christian beliefs of Lewis, they better do it with legitimately formed arguments and approaches. Lewis was known to commend people he disagreed with if they were honest and careful in how they quoted him. Lewis himself took great pains to not misquote or misrepresent the arguments of those he battled with philosophically.

Today, he would be horrified to see what passes for social commentary and debate.

Take a look at this piece by ABC News, lionized by Andrew Sullivan on Time Magazine’s website. Watch the video and then come back here for an examination of their argument in the news sequence.

1. Perhaps the only “controversial” part of the movie that ABC News shows is the kids praying “to a picture of George W. Bush”. In reviewing the website for the movie and the documents on Wikipedia about the movie, it becomes clear that the kids are praying “for” George Bush and not to him. That is very misleading. They also do not take into account that Becky Fischer (the director of the camp) also had pictures of Bill Clinton that the kids prayed for during his tenure as President.

2. The video follows three particular kids ages 9-12 almost exclusively. The video is a positive portrayal of how the camp impacted their lives. These three kids are not even mentioned in the ABC News draft. In addition, ABC News only focuses on teenagers in their focus on evangelicals and even interviews a college professor about evangelical college students. The implication they are making is that the kids from Jesus Camp are the college students who will go to Wheaton in years to come. That’s a mighty big jump in logic. They are more likely to go to North Dakota State U. than Wheaton.

3. Andrew Sullivan picks out the picture of George Bush, which is shown for a few seconds in the movie and uses that as his lead story. He doesn’t tell about how the kids are ministered to.

4. The group that sponsors this camp is considered on the very fringe of Evangelicalism and cannot in any way be seen as representatives of the movement. But this is also a technique used by many people today; look at an extreme example and tar and feather a movement by those extremists. This is the mistake made the world over as people look at Islam. Most muslims would not think of blowing other people up. But they are being represented that way, even by us Christians at times. Evil people commit crimes, not evil Muslims or evil Evangelicals.

5. They mention the skateboarding ministries of churches as proselitizing. I used to be involved in one of those skateboarding ministries in Montana, and we did it so that kids would have a place to skateboard where drugs were not allowed in. Painting all evangelicals as buttonholing evangelists is naughty and irresponsible.

Examine Andrew Sullivan and see if he is as honest as this examination.

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5 comments

  1. That report angers me. But unfortunately doesn’t surprise me. It’s amazing to me how being on fire for Christ is seen as crazy.

    There is a couple is a neighboring small town that hosts and leads an adult bible study. And their teenage children started a Christian worship band that plays in the garage in the evenings. The rumor around town is that they are in a cult.

    Heaven forbid we should surrender what we know and what the world knows to follow Him.


  2. I agree with Stephanie about being angry. But what does surprise me is that more people aren’t taking ABC to task for this piece of shoddy reporting. Maybe that shouldn’t surprise me, but now there are a lot of Christian media watchdogs out there and I have not read of any of them reporting on this. Thanks Mike.


  3. Stephanie and Carl: As Christians, we should be grateful when anyone (whether they are believers or not) points out things about the practice of our faith that are wrong. This is what made C.S. Lewis such a great man. He accepted a well-formed argument and sought to improve through it. But this piece of reporting only shows ABC (and Andrew Sullivan by proxy) as people we should ignore and pay little attention to.


  4. Amen, Mike. May all journalists aspire do just as C.S. Lewis did.


  5. I thought Chrisitans were brainwhased and crazy before I finally became one…..so I understand where these sad and lonely people are coming from. I cannot tolerate what we call “jouranlism” today…but I guess I should pray for them to be as blessed as I was/am. I do hope these lonely people can receive Christ’s love openly in their hearts…so they can discover the joy I have each day!



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