There’s been a fair share of discussion over “alternative facts” this week, with many people reacting to the strange debate over the size of President Donald Trump’s inaugural crowd.
To quickly recap: White House press secretary Sean Spicer recently sparked controversy when he said it was “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period,” to which reporters and others seemed shocked; after all, the crowd size was noticeably smaller than former President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration — not a surprise considering the historic nature of President Obama’s first win and how wildly unpopular both Trump and rival Democrat Hillary Clinton were during the 2016 campaign.
But it didn’t end there, as Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway then defended Spicer’s inaugural claim, saying that Spicer simply delivered some “alternative facts.” As you can imagine, a discussion about fact and fiction has since raged, with many remaining perplexed over why the crowd size was made into such a dominant issue.
Christian commentator Ed Stetzer responded to the entire debate by penning a piece titled, “Facts Are Our Friends: Why Sharing Fake News Makes Us Look Stupid and Harms Our Witness,” arguing that Christians should be focused on truth rather than embracing falsehoods.
“Who cares how many people came to the inauguration? Seriously, who cares?” Stetzer wrote, going on to offer potential reasons why attendance was lower. “In fact, it’s easy to understand why the attendance might be down: Clinton won the states near D.C., meaning that the incoming President’s supporters had to travel farther to attend than in previous years; the most recent inaugurations were historic because Obama was the first black president, so there were many who wanted to attend in person; there was forecasted rain, so some people would stay home.”
Stetzer, executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, continued, noting that he’s been concerned to see some Christians sharing fake news — something that he said hurts the Christian witness. At the same time, he said he’s sometimes not a fan of the media and sees problems with credibility on that front.
“I’m no fan of some members of the media at times, and I do think that some have been inappropriately connected to Hillary Clinton, and overly cozy with President Obama,” Stetzer continued. “And let me add that in the last few days, some reporting has not helped media credibility, with poorly reported stories on Rick Perry, the MLK bust in the Oval Office, and more.”
But while the media might sometimes paint problematic pictures of Christians, Stetzer said he’s embarrassed when he sees believers sharing fake news, arguing that “integrity matters.” Even when the truth seems unfavorable to believers, he argued that Christians can have hope in God, arguing that “when we dishonor the truth, we dishonor Jesus.”
“Integrity should matter for Christians, but too often it does not. Scripture is clear, especially in Proverbs,” he said. “Proverbs 28:18 explains, ‘The one who lives with integrity will be helped, but one who distorts right and wrong will suddenly fall.'”
Read the piece in its entirety here.
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