Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 04/08/22

The Get. That’s the media term for scoring a hot interview and friend of this blog Raymond Arroyo certainly scored a major one for Fox News’ Ingraham Angle as Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson and writer/director Rosalind Ross sat down with him to talk about the much-anticipated biopic Father Stu. The R-rated Sony Pictures film based on the tough but ultimately uplifting true story of amateur boxer-turned-Catholic priest Stuart Long opens in theaters next Wednesday (4/13).

 

While we’re on the subject of Fox News…kudos to its fast-growing book division and another friend of this blog as Fox News @ Night anchor Shannon’s Bream‘s new book The Mothers and Daughters of the Bible Speak debuted in the number two spot on the New York Times Bestseller List, followed closely by her 2021 bestseller The Women of the Bible Speak which returned to the list at number 10. Notably, all four of the Fox News Books titles released thus far in its short 17-month history (including Pete Hegseth’s Modern Warriors and All-American Christmas authored by Rachel Campos-Duffy and Sean Duffy) have been bestsellers.

Commenting on the milestone Bream says “It has been such a gift for me to go back to these wonderful stories of grace, failure and fortitude in the Bible and I feel so honored to share this journey with those looking for inspiration, especially in this time of such darkness.”

Meanwhile, Fox News @ Night, which airs at midnight ET and follows the top-rated news-based late night comedy show Gutfeld!, recently expanded to two hours following the escalation of the war in Ukraine.
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The gift of discernment. Through her Christian ministry, Jeanne Nigro has made it her mission to empower people to cope and even thrive through uncertain and turbulent times. In other words, times like now. In her new book The Lies We Believe About Faith and Politics: The Way Forward, she cites the ability to discern between truth and deception – particularly in the area of faith and politics – as a key skill to hanging on and moving forward through the cultural storm. She warns that lies about faith and politics are everywhere and that no political party, news outlet, social media platform or faith group is immune to becoming part of the problem. She answered some of my questions following her attendance of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida.

JWK: How was CPAC??

Jeanne Nigro: CPAC was great! It was one of the best conferences I’ve attended! It was upbeat, and there was optimism in the air with a spirit of unity moving forward. Rather than just focusing on what others are doing wrong, it focused more on what we need to do going forward to advance freedom and economic prosperity in this country. In my opinion, the audience left feeling motivated and invigorated to stand for truth, freedom, and life – all biblical principles – rather than just bashing people on “the other side.”

JWK: You say that no one is immune to being influenced by lies about faith and politics. What do you mean by that?

JN: Lies about Faith and Politics are everywhere. They are not isolated to any particular faith group, political party or news outlet. We need to learn how to discern the messages we are receiving from our news sources, faith leaders and government officials. We cannot assume that any one group is “all right” or “all wrong.” Until Jesus returns and rules His millennial kingdom on earth in perfect righteousness, we can be certain there will be deception, corruption, manipulation, and power struggles. Our job is to wake up and realize that all we see happening today, including the world of faith and politics, is a spiritual battle at it’s core. The political battles are truly spiritual battles and, as believers, we are called to engage in spiritual warfare. Jesus called the servant who did nothing until He returned “the wicked servant.”

JWK:What are some of the lies you are talking about in your book?

JN: Some of the specific LIES that I address in my book are the following:

  • America should rule by mercy, not by military power.
  • When America focuses on having a strong economy, it is a lover of money. Moral health is an exceedingly more honorable goal for America than economic prosperity.
  • The church should not be overly concerned about communists or China taking over America. The Gospel spreads in oppressive governments and the primary purpose of the church is to spread the gospel.
  • Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world, therefore believers in Jesus (and the church) should not be involved in politics.
  • The primary focus of America’s policies should be on helping the poor.
  • The Bible (and Jesus) endorse socialism.
  • Liberal policies which promote and expand: welfare, open borders, homelessness, taxes, defunding the police, bail reform, big government, etc. are more “fair and caring” than conservative policies, and they are supported and endorsed by Jesus’ teachings.
  • If we elect the perfect candidate or leader, then everything will be ok, and we won’t have to worry.
  • We must unconditionally obey and submit to all forms of government, including tyrannical, abusive, and ungodly governments because God put them in place.

JWK: Are our good intentions sometimes used to manipulate and trick us into doing things that are, in fact, unwise, not good and not what God is actually asking of us?

JN: I was talking about how liberals message everything under the “fair and caring” theme so that believers and faith leaders are deceived into thinking that liberal policies are more “Christ-like” than conservative policies. This is one of the biggest lies that I’m exposing in the book regarding policies and legislation.

JWK: How concerned are you about the nexus between Big Tech, Big Media and politics – particularly regarding political and religious censorship? 

JN: I am very concerned about Big Tech censorship. The rate at which freedom of speech is being removed from social media and internet searches, especially in the areas of healthcare, politics, and religion; the exponential increase in social media giants’ influence and crafted narratives on everything from vaccines, health care, international affairs, gender identity, climate change, sex trafficking, to election results; and Big Tech’s investment of millions and millions of dollars to shift election results, influence vaccine advertising, and more is staggering!

I believe Big Tech censorship is the biggest threat to our nation and our Constitution. When we lose freedom of speech and freedom of the press, “We the People” have lost our nation. Totalitarianism, socialism, communism — it’s all up for grabs. Throughout history, censorship of free speech is always the first and most critical step used by dictators to overthrow a nation and to usurp power.

First, it is critical that citizens learn, communicate, and support the mechanisms already in place within Congress to address this issue. For example, the Freedom from Big Tech Caucus was formed to hold Big Tech accountable — “to preserve the free market, promote competition and innovation, protect the freedom of speech, and foster a thriving digital economy.” Representative Jim Jordan proposes an overhaul of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which basically gives tech firms legal immunity for censorship. Getting behind these proposals would be one important step forward that, in turn, would ignite other positive steps into motion.

JWK: What is the proper role for religion and faith in politics?  How do you balance bringing your faith values to politics without actually tilting toward a theocracy?

JN: America was founded on biblical principles. The Constitution aligns with biblical principles of government – such as freedom, life, righteousness, justice, protecting the innocent, etc. and when properly interpreted, it enforces them. However, America is not a theocracy. In a theocracy, a ruler or group  – believed to be divinely guided by God – uses religious texts to create laws and guide government. The Vatican, Iran, and Saudi Arabia are examples of theocracies. In a theocracy, the law must be consistent with the religious text of the ruling religion. This is not the case in America. The Constitution is our ruling document of law and, even though it espouses biblical principles, we as a nation are not governed by The Bible itself.

When government legislates and mandates morality as it does in these times – especially regarding what is taught in our schools; when it advances evil and takes away our right to practice our religion; and when policy threatens to destroy our God-given, biblically rooted, constitutional freedoms of speech and press, religion, assembly, and bearing arms — whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, politics and spiritual things are NO LONGER SEPARATE! Anti-God, anti-biblical principles are being forced on us through legislation, executive orders, school boards, and the courts. Since political battles are actually spiritual battles, the excuse of “I’m not political” or “I’m not into politics” is no longer valid for believers and churches.
It’s up to us — who are called to advance righteousness and expose the lies and darkness —- to take a stand and fight back! James 4:17 tells us: “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”

Recently I heard a preacher say that he didn’t believe in speaking to the congregation about politics. He thought that doing so would be losing sight of his primary mission to preach the Gospel. I wanted to ask him – “What IS the Gospel to you, only the salvation message?” Doesn’t the Gospel also include living righteously and exposing lies and evil? Of course it does! Furthermore, if we don’t take a stand against socialism and communism, we won’t even have the freedom to preach the Gospel in the very near future! I cannot emphasize this point strongly enough — when all branches and all levels of government are legislating morality, believers are called to stand for righteousness! When we don’t, we are buying into the enemy’s lie to do nothing. That is exactly what the enemy wants, so that his agenda of death will advance on earth rather than God’s plan of life and righteousness.

JWK: You book is called The Lies We Believe We Believe About Faith and Politics – with the subtitle The Way Forward. What is the way forward?

JN: Whatever we do to advance righteousness in our country must be fueled by intimacy with God. Otherwise, we’ll be motivated by fear, anger, and control. Then we won’t look different from anyone else, and we will advance Satan’s agenda to bring division and fear. We need to recognize and deal with the lies that we are believing about ourselves and about God that fuel our stress, fear, anxiety, anger, and bitterness.  

There is so much that we CAN do to advance truth, righteousness, and freedom in our nation. First, pray! I go into great detail in the book on how to pray for individuals we see in the news! Then take action by contacting representatives, voting, supporting candidates’ campaigns, attending local city council and school board meetings, being educated on proposed legislation and policies, and asking God for discernment when hearing that “fair and caring” message. Also, as a side note, when you vote for elected officials, keep in mind that you are not voting for the Messiah. Support individuals who will uphold, protect, and fight for the Constitution. Elected officials who uphold the Constitution are by default, upholding biblical principles of government. For example, vote for candidates who will fight for policies that advance life over death and destruction; freedom over bondage and dependency; and the pursuit of happiness over hopelessness and apathy. These are the biblical principles that are embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.

Align with “God’s Strategic Plan for the Future.” When Jesus returns, He will restore righteousness on the earth during the Millennium. What we do now to advance righteousness, freedom, and restoration will contribute toward and make a difference in the Millennium! Even when we don’t see the results that we are fighting for now, we cannot be discouraged and we definitely cannot give up! What we are doing matters now, and it matters in the future!

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
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