Fake News

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Thanks (but no thanks) to social media, we are inundated with fake news. Add to that free Facebook on our mobile phones (which allows us to see the headlines for free but charges us if we want to read the news), clicking the “Share” button without even thinking has become rampant! Sadly, many believers—and even pastors—who are followers of the Lord who declared that He is the Truth have been guilty of sharing fake news.

Conspiracy theories are nothing new—they’ve been around for centuries. People love to speculate on hidden meanings or to jump at the potential of juicy secrets. Unfortunately, when these things are unfounded, lies are told and people are hurt. And most unfortunately, Christians are often involved in perpetuating them. … Simply put, the spreading of these conspiracies are hurting our witness and making Christians look, yet again, foolish. And it’s time to repent.[1]

We are commanded not to tell lies. According to Exodus 20:16, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” To bear false witness is to “speaking falsely in any matter… to speak unjustly against our neighbor, to the prejudice of his reputation.”[2] When we share fake news, we are bearing false witness. We are actually lying. It negatively impacts our witness to the world.

What sort of credibility does this lend our words? When we bear false witness, we establish a reputation for blindly succumbing to unverifiable or groundless stories. How can we effectively witness when we have negligently borne false witness? How can we then claim to be the body of truth itself? When we spread conspiracy theories and fake news, we discredit ourselves, and we allow the gospel to be discredited as well.[3]

If ever we are criticized for doing so, don’t assume we are being persecuted. We are actually at fault when that happens.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. (Matthew 5:10-11, emphasis added)

Being ridiculed for sharing fake news is not being persecuted “for righteousness’ sake”.

According to Ephesians 4:25, “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” Speaking the truth includes our posts and comments on Facebook. The Message version goes like this:

What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.

Again, when we post fake news, we are not only hurting our own testimony but also, much more, the testimony of Christianity.

Brothers and sisters, let us speak the truth online and offline!

[1] Ed Stetzer (31 May 2017), “Christians, Repent (Yes, Repent) of Spreading Conspiracy Theories and Fake News—It's Bearing False Witness,” Christianity Today, retrieved from http://www.christianitytoday.com/. Emphasis added.
[2] Ibid
[3] Ibid, emphasis added.


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