The Price of Truth

by | Dec 31, 2002 | Frontline

A free press is still one of the best protections of freedom in any society.
Despite often legitimate complaints by American Christians about anti-Christian bias in the secular media, the fact remains that even when it is blankly uncomprehending of issues of faith, a free press is still one of the best protections of freedom in any society. When freedom of the press is threatened anywhere, along with freedom of conscience, people’s lives are at risk.


Nowhere can you grasp this more vividly than in Africa, a continent whose peoples have in recent decades been more brutalized by dictatorship, civil war, corruption and disease than anywhere else on earth.


In mid-November in Nairobi, Kenya, we heard heartrending, firsthand stories of this from 40 journalists, all of them Christian, gathered from 11 African nations. The occasion was the African Regional Conference of Gegrapha, the global fellowship of Christians in journalism founded in Washington, D.C., in 1998. Some of those journalists present had been forced to flee their homes and their countries because their reporting antagonized their governments or, as in northern Nigeria, an aggressive and expansionist branch of Islam.


Clayton Peel, former deputy editor of The Chronicle in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, was fired overnight from the pro-government paper after front-paging the story of a mayoral candidate cleared in court of malicious and politically motivated corruption charges. Until he left Zimbabwe he did not know if he would be jailed, or worse.


“There does come a point,” Peel said, “when your Christian conscience provokes you, and in being provoked, you provoke others.”


In Nigeria, which returned to democracy two years ago, the most frightening challenge to Christians and journalists is that of efforts by Muslim Nigerians in the country’s north to suppress both Christianity and press freedom by imposing the sharia, Islamic religious law. Emmanuel Hasan (not his real name), editor of a northern regional newspaper, had to flee for his life after bravely reporting anti-Christian violence by militant Nigerian Muslims in his state.


After arriving in Lagos, Hasan did something radical–he founded a Christian newspaper, The Envoy. He had three goals: to report instances of Christian persecution, to look at news from a Christian perspective and to be frank in reporting when the church itself slipped up.


But Hasan was shocked by unexpected opposition. “We didn’t expect the difficulties to come from the church,” he says.


Hasan says many churches became hostile when his paper pointed out wrong-doing or corruption among them. Despite this, Hasan says, the paper became popular with ordinary people because, in his words, “We stood for the truth.”


Truth also disturbs authoritarian governments because it challenges the legitimacy of their power. A journalist familiar with Egypt said he had been surprised by how much fear there was in the Egyptian media about reporting basic true facts.


“We need to challenge ourselves to tell the truth,” he said, but he added, “We need to understand that it is a real danger to tell the truth.”


All the African reporters were aware of the difficulties of press censorship in many of their countries. Some of them also worried about the insidious threat of self-censorship–holding back truth-telling for fear of government violence or some other backlash.


A reporter for an African government news agency repented in public for having often to “slant” the stories she writes. If a government minister has addressed 25 people at a political meeting, she said, almost in tears, she has to write that there was a “mammoth rally” for the government.


Yet the overall mood of the conference was filled with hope. “For all of us in Africa, we can influence our societies if we see ourselves as Christians,” Hasan commented. New Gegrapha chapters of Christian journalists will be formed in several African countries, and there was a sense of deep commitment to support and pray for one another.


Next stop for Gegrapha will be at the regional level, with conferences in South Asia and Europe. Please pray for financially successful Christians to help us accomplish all this.


David Aikman, a regular Charisma columnist, is the founder and chairman of Gegrapha, a global fellowship of Christians in journalism (www.gegrapha.org). He can be reached by email at aikmanwriter@yahoo.com.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Learn How to Be Grateful From Those Who Have So Little

Learn How to Be Grateful From Those Who Have So Little

Read Time: 3 Minutes 18 Seconds Looking around my hometown of Los Angeles, my heart soars with gratitude. My home is safe, my bills are paid and I was fortunate to be able to serve my family an ample Thanksgiving meal. And yet, I am fully aware that hundreds of...

5 Ways to Improve Your Emotional and Spiritual Health

5 Ways to Improve Your Emotional and Spiritual Health

Read Time: 4 Minutes 50 Seconds Do you believe the Lord is concerned about your emotional and spiritual health? He is. He wants you to know how to improve your emotional and spiritual health to be resilient in turbulent times. One of the most powerful things you can...

I Never Thought I’ve Have to Say This: Jesus Was Not Trans

I Never Thought I’ve Have to Say This: Jesus Was Not Trans

Read Time: 3 Minutes 27 Seconds You may have heard about the controversy that erupted in Cambridge, England, this past Sunday at Trinity College. The preacher, Joshua Heath, a junior research fellow who has a Ph.D. in theology, offered a sermon in which he suggested...

Prophetic Word: Goodness Is Following You, Turn and See

Prophetic Word: Goodness Is Following You, Turn and See

Read Time: 4 Minutes 48 Seconds At a recent gathering where a person was struggling, I heard and declared by the Spirit of the Lord, “Goodness is following you; turn and see. Embrace His goodness in this moment and watch the shift!” There was an immediate shift and...

Why Becoming Like God Requires Special Effort

Why Becoming Like God Requires Special Effort

Read Time: 2 Minutes 7 Seconds We can walk with God and come into unity with Him by clothing ourselves in His nature. This will require that we restrict and control the desires of the flesh by putting our focus on obtaining the very substance and characteristics of...

Jonathan Cahn: How the Great Seduction Overwhelmed America

Jonathan Cahn: How the Great Seduction Overwhelmed America

Read Time: 7 Minutes, 16 Seconds Is it possible that ancient entities known as "the gods" have returned to our world? If so, who are these gods? And could they be the hidden agents transforming modern culture? Is it possible that in the mythologies of the ancient...

3 Reasons for Hope This Advent Season

3 Reasons for Hope This Advent Season

Read Time: 3 Minutes 6 Seconds I didn’t grow up celebrating Advent. When I was little, we put up a tree, got presents and had a Christmas Eve service. It seemed to me that most grown-ups were stressed over Christmas and thankful when it was all over. It wasn’t until...

RECENT ARTICLES

How To Be Hilariously Happy in Your Giving

Read Time: 4 Minutes 17 Seconds The day after Thanksgiving is culturally called Black Friday, in the U.S. It marks the beginning of retail sales that could ensure a successful and profitable...
Prophetic Word: The Lord Says, ‘I Am About to Redeem the Times’

Prophetic Word: The Lord Says, ‘I Am About to Redeem the Times’

Read Time: 3 Minutes 39 Seconds In corporate prayer the other day, I was in place of deep prayer and intercession when I heard in my spirit, "Redeem the times." As I continued to pray, I just kept hearing "Redeem the times" echo in my spirit. Then the Lord said, "I am...

Pin It on Pinterest