It’s no secret that many Christians harbor deep skepticism of the “liberal media elite.” Some have been burned by the media, noting unfair or unfriendly coverage from the past. “I never just accept what newspapers say about people. I’ve seen them get facts, quotes, and reasons wrong far too many times,” California pastor Rick Warren wrote on Twitter earlier this year. Or, as popular blogger Jon Acuff has suggested, Christians tend to treat the secular media as though it were Satan’s newspaper.
The skepticism runs deeply in response to perceptions Americans feel about how the media treats religion. Just 19 percent of Americans say the news media is friendly to religion, a poll from the Pew Center found in a March 2012 survey. Skepticism of the media seems to run deeper for evangelicals, at least when reporters cover religion. About half of evangelicals believe the press is “unfriendly” to religion, compared to 35 percent of Americans overall. The result can be a tendency for media consumers to read only those we agree with or ideas we want to affirm.
But carrying an unhealthy cynicism toward the media can rattle our sense that there is indeed knowable truth. Instead, the savvy Christian should seek to gather several pieces of information and ideas before filtering them through what he or she knows to be true. We can look to media accounts to begin to understand general revelation, God’s providential work manifested in the world around us.