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Words Have Meaning

green bookIt’s a Book – You Can Read It

Last week, in the wake of the terrible shooting in Orlando, there was a good amount of political grandstanding. I don’t typically comment on matters of homosexuality and politics, as I find that there is a lot of wasted time, energy, money and God-given talents wasted in the political “culture war” arena. Divisions have been made along party lines, spurred on by the support of lobbyists who are the real winners, while those who send them money feel the self-assurance that they’ve helped “their team.” Instead of investing in this, I try to find ways to build bridges across the things that divide us, and often it’s not hard to find ways in which we can all be on the same team.

To that end, I bring you this caveat: If someone makes an outlandish claim based on Scripture that just doesn’t sound right, you might want to take some time to actually read that particular part of Scripture for yourself to double-check, rather than print something untrue in the New York Times, or some other publication of your choice.

Sigh.

On June 15th, the New York Times posted a piece by Jeremy W. Peters and Lizette Alvarez entitled “After Orlando, a Political Divide on Gay Rights Still Stands.” Included in this article is the following sentence:

“A Republican congressman read his colleagues a Bible verse from Romans that calls for the execution of gays.”

Whoa – wait – what? There is no such verse in Romans.

As mentioned above, I understand that there are people on the liberal and the conservative side of the spectrum who love to stir things up and make outlandish statements in order to get a reaction, and hopefully gain funds. But this is the New York Times, a newspaper, reporting the news. And the book of Romans in the Bible is available for free online and at your local library – it is not difficult to get a copy and read what it actually says. And in no way is there a verse in Romans that says such a thing.

Words have meaning, and books contain words that you can read, and gather meaning from those words. Several Christians were taken aback by the false claim in the Peters and Alvarez piece, and did a good job of correcting this error and more in the following articles:

http://www.getreligion.org/getreligion/2016/6/16/classic-mz-when-it-comes-to-christianity-101-the-new-york-times-flunks-out-again

http://thefederalist.com/2016/06/17/new-york-times-claims-romans-calls-for-execution-of-gays/

This is not the first time that the NYT has gotten some basic facts about Christianity wrong, as Mollie Hemingway pointed out in the Federalist article, (the second link above). In the past the NYT has reported that, “…Jesus is buried in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, that Easter marks Jesus’ ‘resurrection into heaven,’ that St. Patrick is known for banishing slaves from Ireland, or that William Butler Yeats is the author of the Book of Hebrews.”

The subtitle of Hemingway’s article is, “Religious illiteracy among journalists is reaching crisis levels.” I’m not sure if it’s at a crisis level, but it is certainly at an embarrassing one. There are plenty of ways to mis-report the news – let’s try to get back to accuracy, a do a bit more reading before we do our reporting.

 

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