Joseph Farah has been posting a series of columns on the subject of “discerning truth in a world of lies” and the results are predictably ridiculous. In part 4 of that series, he claims that freedom of the press only exists because of America’s “Judeo-Christian” roots. His argument is transparently absurd.
Isn’t that amazing. America’s founders built into their system of constitutionally limited government many checks and balances on the powers of government. The First Amendment protections of the press were one of them.
The founders were so brilliant, so insightful, that they protected the free press because they intuitively understood it was a critical way to keep government under control, to have what we call “a fourth estate” to watchdog the three branches of government.
I say they did this “intuitively.” What do I mean? I mean they had no precedent on which to base this assumption upon. It was something that had never been done before in the history of the world!
What is it about the American founders that made them so smart?
They got their wisdom from their grounding in the Bible. Even the most skeptical of them were learned in the scriptures. Many of them read the Bible in the original languages on a daily basis. They were Christians.
Let me underline that last statement: Christian Americans and Jews gave us the free press.
Wait, Jews? There were no Jews among the men who wrote the Constitution or framed the Bill of Rights. At the time there were only about 3,000 Jews in the entire country, and while a handful of them did play a role in financing and fighting the revolution, none of them had anything to do with creating the new government. Not because they had nothing to contribute, of course, but because they were prevented from doing so. In most states, they didn’t have the right to hold office or even to vote at the time. So this is the lame argument Farah is forced to make for his position:
Let me provide a little bit of evidence. For more, just pick up “Stop the Presses: The Inside Story of the New Media Revolution.”
There’s an old saying: “Journalism is the first draft of history.” Sometimes for me today this is a scary thought. Yet it is true.
And while the ancient Hebrews didn’t practice journalism as we know it today, they did a first-rate job of recording their history. They also provided, through God’s providence and inspiration, the moral light that was needed to free people from tyranny and oppression.
Through their history, we are reminded that liberty was precious because it was rare and fleeting.
“It is remarkable that so few men and so weak a people could have exerted such an influence on mankind’s quest for freedom because freedom, for much of the history of ancient Israel, was little more than a vision,” wrote Columbia University journalism professor John Hohenberg in his book, “Free Press, Free People: The Best Cause,” back in 1971.
It is a testimony not only to their God, but to what that God told all of us in the scriptures: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Um. What? Seriously? There isn’t a single verse in the Bible in favor of freedom of the press. Or freedom of speech. Or freedom of religion. All the talk of freedom found in those pages deals with freedom from foreign oppression (like the Babylonian period) or freedom from sin. The notion that our ideas of personal and political freedom comes from the Bible is patently absurd. This is just an attempt to read all the good things that came out of Enlightenment philosophy into the Bible after the fact.