Jon Kennedy
Jon Kennedy

Jon Kennedy's 'Postcards from
the Nanty Glo in My Mind'

Truth in labeling

Several items caught my attention in recent days that raised questions of truth in labeling. The first involved a debate between a liberal and a conservative guest on a cable news show. No sooner were the conservative proponents of abortion reform mentioned than the liberal panelist started raging against "totalitarians" on the right and their supposed attempt to force their views on society. No support showing the alleged "totalitarianism" was offered and the conservative panelist, a professing Christian, responded calmly by saying she wasn't interested in curtailing debate or other points of view, only being allowed to put forward and defend her own.

A bit later, when a spokesman for PFAW—the People for the American Way—was quoted, the earlier leftist use of "totalitarianism" came back to my mind as a more truthful label for PFAW. By rights, the organization should be called "People for a Totalitarian America," for by definition, the name PFAW is totalitarian. By advocating on behalf of "the" American way, as though there is such a thing, they are admitting that they oppose the belief in a pluralism of beliefs as appropriate for Americans as defined by our First Amendment protecting a wide range of both viewpoint expressions and religious "ways." The name PFAW presumes that all must see everything "the American way" in order to be worthy of freedom of expression or belief in our republic. A look at their website, where their whole program is opposing "the radical right," which to them includes all those who have use for the word "sin" in their vocabularies, bears this out. Their one and only issue is opposing anyone who would block their "progressive" takeover of the American mind and soul.

The truth in labeling issue reminds me of another place in which I found a similar difficulty a few years back. When the Rev. Jerry Falwell's now-defunct organization The Moral Majority was much in the news, I believed that it was operating under a false label. Because no individual, much less any majority, is perfectly moral, and to pretend to be so is an affront to Holy Writ, which declares, "we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). Furthermore, the Scripture warns against following the majority and being aware that relatively few will meet the Lord's standards for righteousness: "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way that leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Jesus in Matthew 7, 13-14). I think more highly of Falwell's goals than Norman Lear's and his PFAW's, but compromising the truth, especially in labeling, is never right.

Christians can believe totally consistently that abortion is always sin and should be outlawed as a form of murder, the wilful taking of innocent life, without forcing their views on others. That's because to be a Christian is to do to one's neighbors what they would want their neighbors to do to them, and to love their neighbors like themselves, and love and do justice to their enemies as well as those who agree with them. What other "way" can claim a comparable fundamental tenet in its constitution?

Webmaster Jon Kennedy


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