Christianity, Journalism, and the Worldview of Truth

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Image
Google Podcasts
iHeart Podcasts

On today's inauguaral episode, I talk to Alan Eason - Independent Digital Marketing Consultant and Journalist and owner of AE Communications in Oak Ridge, TN. Alan has been in various forms of ministry for over 30 years - in the pastorate, the mission field, and working with Chuck Colson at Prison Fellowship Ministries.

In this first first part of two podcasts, Alan and I discuss the role that journalists play in society's movement away from traditional Christian thought and practice in this country, and how their worldview of "truth" drives everything they do.

Reuel Sample:
Tell us a little bit about your ministry. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Well, there's no such thing as secular and sacred for Christians as there. So you've done a whole bunch of things across across the spectrum.

Alan Eason:
Yeah, well, probably the best way to illustrate it is I was working at the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview a few years ago, and one of the ladies in our group was introducing some board members around the offices and came to my office. She led two or three people, and she said, this is Alan Eason's office. Alan is a vampire and this is his seventh life. So I thought that was pretty funny, mostly because I've lived those seven lives. Actually, it's a few more now, because that was some years ago. But no, I as a young man, I first became a Christian when I was 17, and I had been raised by a very good family, but we weren't really a churchgoing family that much. And I started reading the Bible, became a strong Christian very quickly and started preaching while I was attending The University of Tennessee as a freshma. Decided to go to a Bible institute at the church my grandparents were members of in Denver, Colorado. From there, I ended up going overseas doing ministry work in Eastern Europe, which at that time was all under communist domination. Everything, you know, east of the line with the Russians and the Americans settled on the end of World War two. 

Reuel Sample:
How did you get in? How did you get into Eastern Europe? Because they were locked down at that point in time.

Alan Eason:
We went as tourists officially. But we we toured a lot. Depends on which country some of the countries were more open. Yugoslavia was very open. Czechoslovakia, not very much. They just had the Czech revolt, as you may remember, under Dubcek in 67. But anyway, from there, I ended up going to Germany, where for five years I was also the minister. I still did some Iron Curtain work, but I was also the minister for a U.S. Air Force congregation made up of U.S. Air Force members in Bitburg, Germany and Spain, two air bases close to the Luxembourg border there. So I was working mostly with military still works, some with German population. We had German members as well. And anyway, came back to the states after that. Went back to UT, worked on a master's degree there and preached for a church in Knoxville for five years. And then after that kind of went through some rough times in my life. But I got into it and I had decided to get into publishing and writing anyway. I had already planned to get out of the pulpit at that time. So when I did, I opened a Christian bookstore. And because I wanted to be a Christian publisher and then ended up getting interested in the Internet, and from that ended up starting my own business. But also eventually we work with large organizations such as Prison Fellowship in the Colson Center, Capital Gazette Publishing in Annapolis, which is where they had those horrible murders a few years ago. We owned five newspapers in the area, was the Internet director for that and several other organizations. So I've done a lot of different things, but all of it is aimed towards trying to build up the kingdom of God. And to me, I've always felt my gift was more in writing and publishing even than in speaking or pastoring God. I love being a pastor.

Reuel Sample:
We have a lot of things going on at the time of this recording. We have the main thing in the news is Afghanistan has fallen once again to the Taliban. Other than Covid, which we talk about probably endlessly, is Afghanistan one of the major events in the world that Christians should be focusing on, or are there other things that that we as Christians, believers in the faith, need to keep our eyes on?

Alan Eason:
Well, there's been an ongoing litany of things for particularly the last I would say 12 to 14 years where we've been losing our religious freedoms, we've been losing our freedom to speak in this country, in the United States, and we have been losing the freedom of conscience. And it's not just been through official regulation. It's been through a change in society where before people maybe didn't like Christians speaking out too much, but they didn't try to step up and really block them. Now you're seeing that everywhere, from corporations to people on the streets throwing rocks at you or shooting at you or in the schools, parent teacher meetings, things like that. So it's it's much more of a challenge for Christians to speak up, but we need to do that. But then when you look overseas, it's also we're seeing an emboldened spiritual force against Christians worldwide. And whereas we chafe because we're losing some of our freedom in the public square in America, or at least it's making it harder on us. We're having to suffer a little bit fancy that. Didn't Jesus say something about that?

Reuel Sample:
And maybe we haven't suffered enough.

Alan Eason:
But overseas, many Christians are just blatantly being put to death. You know, and it's it's really grown, from what I understand. And I've got friends in ministries in different parts of the world where Christians are being killed regularly and have been for some time. But it's growing.

Reuel Sample:
Here in this country, I think you nailed it right on the head, we get concerned about, well, we can't speak, but overseas is that even the right to life is being taken away.

Alan Eason:
And this circles back a little bit to the conversation of doing missionary work in formerly communist countries or in countries that at that time weren't communist, because I had a good deal of experience with a lot of families that I came to know and love in ways that they suffered. The time I went in there was in the early 70s, starting in 71 and 72, straight out of Bible Institute. And I was only 21 years old. And it wasn't as bad as what Christians had had under, say, Stalin, you know, or under Lennon or in the earlier years when they were just. Almost had a genocide against Christian populations in communist areas, but it was it was bad, it was somewhere between that and where we are now. And so what? Happens is that people who are under that kind of pressure, they do purify their lives. It's like Peter said, you know, in First Peter, that God puts the into the furnace sometimes to purify and burn away the dross. You know, in a way, we should rejoice, he said, were to rejoice in both said the same thing when we come in to the suffering of all kinds.

Reuel Sample:
We are not to go looking for suffering, but when suffering comes, rejoice and and and be in prayer. I can't help but think that those of us here in the West, again, we think of suffering as well I can't speak as much as I want or I have to wear a mask. But there are people who are in fear for their lives, and that's still the same kind of suffering that Jesus calls us to rejoice and and look to the look to the message of the cross.

Alan Eason:
Yes, I agree.

Reuel Sample:
Now, I'm going to call you out, though. You are a member of the journalist class. So how have your fellow journalists. Or have they contributed to this assault on Christianity? We can't blame them too much for overseas where people are getting getting killed. But but there's certainly an assault on our faith and our freedoms here in this country and in the west in particular. Is that a is that a fair statement?

Alan Eason:
Yes, it is. And it is something. Speaking of journalists and speaking of newsrooms, you know, even though there's a lot made of journalistic objectivity and giving voice to the voiceless and things like that, when it boils down to it, the newsrooms that I've been around, though, they had a lot of good people in them, often times have kind of unwritten rules, just like a lot of places do. And there are just certain subjects and certain angles that if you tackle those, most of the people in the newsroom will be against you. And a lot of the bias is they're not even aware of it themselves. You know, people can be biased, not know they're biased. And it just becomes kind of the worldview. We've talked about that before quite a bit. And it becomes part of the way they see the world so that when someone from a different worldview, specifically a Christian worldview or a conservative worldview, that the values, some of the thinking that went on in Western Europe and Western civilization and Locke and Hume and, you know, people, especially from Great Britain in the United States, when our country was founded, when when that way of thinking is just considered outmoded.

Alan Eason:
And we all know what we're talking about, especially if you've been to a university or college in the last 20, 30, 40 years. What happens is you go up against. Well, I say go up against, that may not be the way to put it, but you are on the stage with other journalists. Have may be your friends and you start talking about things and they just look at you with like a deer in headlights, like. You're a smart Alan, and how can you think like that? You know, it doesn't make any sense. And there are so few people that have been trained, especially in the journalistic profession, which is an oxymoron, have been trained to do that thing that I always heard growing up, and that was it. A truly educated person is able to hold two opposing positions in their mind at the same time and see the benefits and the weaknesses of each. And I always grew up thinking that's what journalists were supposed to do. Some can do it, but a lot cannot.

Reuel Sample:
So what are journalists being trained in if they're not being trained to what you're what you're describing as critical thinking? If they're not if they're not being trained in critical thinking, what are they being trained in at these major universities?

Alan Eason:
Well, I will say at Georgetown, our program was unique because it was a master's degree program. It was an evening program for people who are already working, such as I started it when I was at the newspaper and the head of the Internet department there. I was the Internet director. But then I continued that while I was working at some other jobs all the way to win, I was even working, of course, and Sarah took me four years to finish that one year degree. I tell people I have a four year degree from Georgetown, but it was really a one year degree that took four years. But but anyway, what we were trained to do, because we were being trained by experienced journalists and media people, many of whom really came out of the 60S, 70s, 80s, 90s. They had more of the older standards and they would come in and be a professor in the evening, all the courses were in the evening and at night. And so a lot of them were still working. Some of them were bureau heads. Some of them were editors in chief of nationally known things. Half of them at least had one at least one Emmy award and other awards. Really good journalists. And most of them, I think, still had a lot of the ideas of being able to be objective in your reporting and in your investigation and your thinking.

Alan Eason:
They weren't maybe able to teach critical thinking, which was necessary. We had a journalism ethics class that was required and was done. It was taught by Alicia Shepard, who was the ombudsman for NPR at that time, and she was very good. And so the way she taught ethics, because even though it was a Catholic university in Georgetown, which is run ostensibly by the the order there of the Jesuits, that that manages the university at the highest level, and they did require, they're fairly liberal, as you probably know, but they did require that we have an ethics course and it would be taught ethics. And but in the course, rather than teaching like a Christian worldview or even exposing people to a Christian worldview, or even, as I said, a worldview from 200 to 300 years ago, a Judeo-Christian worldview that was prevalent in society, they took more of the tag of, all right, here, all these philosophers take each of these philosophers and everybody give a report of one of the other. The classroom discussed how each of those philosophers would cover the news. You know. Well, as you know. Most of the more modern philosophers had a very modern way of doing it, and truth was relative.

Reuel Sample:
So nobody if nobody picked a Christian philosopher, the Christian idea wasn't even brought into that class.

Alan Eason:
Not really. And even the idea of truth wasn't really grappled with. You know, there's kind of a sub-level of postmodern thought that whatever you see as truthful in your life is truth to you, and everybody should accept it as truth. Rather than what is the real objective truth out there.

Reuel Sample:
Which is interesting, it seems to me that the the focus of a journalist is to get to the truth, to report the truth, to uncover the truth. And when you're not even talking about what is truth in journalistic training, that's an issue.

Alan Eason:
Yes, it is, and to many of them, as I said, they really believe that what they the way they see things is the truth. And there tends to be a consensus in a lot of newsrooms, because I think what 90 percent of American newsrooms and journalists are considered liberal or vote Democratic or both. Somewhere like that, which the consensus and they feel because there is a consensus, that is the truth.

Reuel Sample:
Which which goes back to what you were talking about, is that they don't even know they're biased because they are surrounded by people who think the same way they do. So how in the world can they think that there are other thoughts out there? Or they look at the thoughts and the movements that are out there as being outside the norm? Because they think the norm is is what they're what their group think is.

Alan Eason:
Exactly. I'll give you an illustration to graduate from our program. We had to do a capstone project. And I was a new media journalist. That was my training. And so I was going to do a video project, a 10 minute mini documentary, and we had to choose a subject. I chose the subject of Freedom of Religion. I brought it up. I had to bring it up to a board of professors. Some of these you might even know their names. One had been a CBS News producer of Connie Chung and others for a number of years. Another one was editor in chief of a pretty liberal magazine, national magazine, and several on that board. I brought it up and I said that's what I'd like to do, my work on it. And of course, I was working with Chuck Colson at the time, and we were doing a lot of work on Breakpoint and in the Colson Center about growing threats to our freedoms of religion and of conscience in the United States. I think some of them knew it. Some of them probably didn't even know where I worked. But when I brought that up and I submitted a proposal I worked on all weekend, gave it to them, just came back real quick, it said and said, no, rejected. And the reason there's already been enough written on the freedom of religion.

Reuel Sample:
No.

Alan Eason:
Yeah. And this was like 2011. So, I mean, this is when the conscience cases were really coming forth, even to the Supreme Court, one after another after another. You know, you've heard about the flower shops and the bake shops and all those people who couldn't even refuse to take on a job that they felt like would require them to create a work of art, celebrating something that they thought was wrong, sinful. And that's freedom of religion in everyday life and freedom of conscience for sure. And they said there's been enough written on it. And, you know. I would have laughed in their face, but I figured I did want to get my degree, so I didn't do that, but. Golly, it just stunned me. And these were national journalists, all of whom have won many awards.

Reuel Sample:
Is there room for faithful Christians in the in the media today? I'm not saying that there's a need because obviously there is a need, but is can a faithful Christian work within the the journalistic society today, or is it just something that they just have to turn their backs on, clean off their sandals and go someplace else?

Alan Eason:
Well, it depends on what you consider to be a journalist. I always thought of a journalist as someone who writes a journal, who writes a lot and who writes it in a way that is meant for others to read, on a kind of a daily basis, you know, the French word for de jure is the base journal. So a daily writer. Now to be a daily writer, if you look back in American history, how newspapers grew in America, you know, where they they grew from in the early days of the colonies, even before the American Revolution, and especially right before the American Revolution, is what they called the Pamphleteers. These were a bunch of people that had presses, some of which the British captured and burned, but they had presses and they were putting out broadsheet after broadsheet after broadsheet after broadsheet. You know, Benjamin Franklin came up in one of those printing presses and many others. They didn't. Most of them didn't hold anything back. And a lot of them were very Christian. And a lot of the pamphleteers actually came out of the first and then later the second Great Awakening where they were printing tracts and they printed track one day and they'd print a news post the next day, and there'd be about as many scriptures in the news post as there were in the tract, you know. And so that's our history. And that's a lot of the history of where our country got its diversity of religion and conscience from these people demanding their right to be heard. That's the journalist. That's a journalist to me.

Reuel Sample:
It's interesting that our founding fathers, who had a Christian worldview themselves, made it their first priority to protect the freedom of journalists and others. It's where we as we see in emerging countries today that are not Christian based, freedom of speech goes right out the window. And journalism is.

Alan Eason:
Most journalists are at the top of a list of people to be eradicated when you get a tyrant taking over.

Reuel Sample:
Bernard Goldberg, you probably know the name. He wrote that book Bias. He he once when he talks to students who are going into journalism, he would ask, why are you going into journalism? And they would say, I could change the world. And his response to them was, then why are you becoming a journalist? Your job is not to change the world. Your job is to is to present the truth of the world and let others change it. And I've always remembered that from that book. That's that that we have missed the job of journalism is that they can change the world. But it's through presenting the truth,

Alan Eason:
The truth that will change the world.

Reuel Sample:
If you were pastoring today. I'm not saying ministering because you are ministering in the way you go about things. But if you were pastoring today and you had a person in your church and she wanted to go into journalism and she was a woman of of faith, would you encourage her to go into that career?

Alan Eason:
Absolutely. But I would encourage her that she better be ready to take on the prophetic mantle. Which Jesus even said to all Christians, we should emulate our forefathers, the prophets. Be like them. That is asking a lot because those guys really got beat up. But they spoke the truth. And that's that's just you have to be ready to take that. But speak truth seek truth and speak truth.

Reuel Sample:
Be part of a community of faith that's going to hold you accountable, that's going to keep you on the right track. You know, you can be surrounded by non Christians, but you better have in your inner circle a bunch of people who are going to call you on things.

Alan Eason:
That's true, and it used to be and to some degree it's still true, I think, more in local news than some of the larger national news organizations where there are a lot of people who are really going after celebrity status. But there are people in newsrooms that will take you aside, some often older ones, wiser ones, and will tell you, hey, this isn't right. You know what you were you said I may agree with your philosophy, but you didn't prove it. You know, and I always loved people like that. We had several like that in the newsroom at the Capital Gazette when I was there. I wanted to say also the the thing about the early American pamphleteers and and publishers, newspaper publishers, not all of them were Christians. You had people like Thomas Paine. You had a lot of Diests at the time. Benjamin Franklin was more of a diest, although he did acknowledge God. And he did even encourage the Continental Congress to pray on different occasions and things like that.

Reuel Sample:
I think the best thing that I think the best thing that can be said about Ben Franklin's spirituality is that it was complicated.

Alan Eason:
The point is this, that because Christians and I'm speaking as a Christian, did speak out so strongly and it was such a part of the culture. Even those who didn't necessarily call themselves Christians when they wrote and spoke, they felt, they needed to imitate that same openness and objectivity to truth, and I'm not saying that all Christians were always objective. There were some that wrote things in the New England colonies that I would heartily disagree with, you know, but still, just more than anything, the freedom for them and for the dissenters, the ones that dissented with them, are, you know, the Baptists pretty much settled a lot of Rhode Island. And then you had the Congregationalists and reform people in Massachusetts in places where they didn't always get along at all, but they they did respect each other's right to publish and write and speak what they saw as the truth.

Reuel Sample
Reuel SamplePodcast HostThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Reuel Sample is the host of The Pastor's Voice Podcast. He has a Bachelor Degree in Sociology and Business Administration from Grove City College, and an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary. He has served as a church pastor and a Navy Chaplain. He is a staunch churchmen - which is why he criticizes it so much. He is an avid sailor and wood worker. He is blessed to be married to his wife Pam. They make their home in Wilmington, NC.

Site Login

Support Our Ministry

We are supported by our listeners.