Just the facts please.
Well, yes, these are exponential times. Complexity, velocity, mobility, and anonymity are the identifying features of this new world. Communicating now is a revised edition, a cosmos of newness. We have Zoom meetings, Asana and Trello project management systems, Slack, Skype, layers of social media, and digital toys in testing phases. And, we have fake news and its nemesis, fact-checkers, those individuals and organizations that pay attention to what is communicated and seek to certify it's authenticity. In my mind, the necessity of fact-checking is a sad commentary about our culture. For generations that good old American spirit encouraged us to believe information communicated to us. Now, we're considered naive when we accept information at face value. We demand just the facts please.
Politics has long been a dirty business. This doesn't mean that all politicians are dishonest or crooked. At times people in the public eye misquote statistics, ideas, and campaign matter that misses the mark. In many instances it is unintentional. As a preacher I know those faux pas intimately. In all of my churches there have been fact-checkers who would remind me of a textual error or some out-of-kilter numbers. Oops, we humans are infallible. Still, in our current environment, these accuracy folks remind us of more than human error. Today, fact-checking exposes deception, the intended communication of information that is off-center. Getting just the facts please is a more difficult enterprise.
Deception is one of those naughty word in the Christian worldview. At root is the constant tension between truth and dishonesty. People of faith should seek and honor the truth in every life pursuit. Give attention to several Scriptural reminders---
Your tongue plots destruction, like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit.
Psalm 52: 2, ESV
Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.
Proverbs 12: 22, ESV
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices.
Colossians 3: 9, ESV
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1: 22, ESV
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from
God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
1 John 4: 1, ESV
Obviously we should speak the truth, and perceive the truth when interpreting that which is communicated to us. The Bible does promise that deceivers will be exposed in the final accounting of life. Solomon wrote, "Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out" (Proverbs 10:9, ESV). Until that day, however, we must learn the discipline of discovering just the facts please. So, how is that accomplished?
There are many reliable fact checking systems. During campaign season, that is, the next eighteen days, each of us should weigh and examine that which is communicated by political parties, candidates, and campaign operative. If you would like solid data about fact-checking organizations, let me recommend the Richard G. Trefry Library of the American Public University System. You can review their data by clicking here.
Our November 3 election may be the most challenging in our national history. The political parties and their candidates have distinctly opposing views of our nation, touching elements of our history, government, and what it means to be an American. Let's cut through the fake news character that could define these decisions, and seek just the facts please in our preparation.