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Be the solution

Prayer and Biblical objectivity can help us resist the march to disunion

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Apart from bedtime reading for kids, I’ve read only one novel three times: José Gironella’s The Cypresses Believe in God, published in Spanish and English 65 years ago.

The first two times—1983, 2001—I mourned for Spain, because Cypresses shows a country during the 1930s polarizing to the point where a half-million died. But this time I mourned for America. The past as covered by George Orwell and Gironella could also be our future.

Is that possible? In September, former Trump aide Steve Bannon told a conservative gathering in St. Louis, “Do you think it’s been unpleasant and nasty to date? You haven’t seen anything. The 2020 campaign will go down as the most vitriolic and nastiest in American history. It’s very simple. We win, we save the country.”

No, we don’t—if we win by escalating anger. Whoever on the left or right wins by that sword will eventually die by it.

Vitriol does not have to poison us. The U.S. has been thoroughly disunited six times before. A rough list of rough times: early 1800s, 1830s, 1860s, 1890s, 1930s, late 1960s. Each time at the brink. Each time a step back. Only one civil war.

We believe in teaching young and old how to become citizen journalists who know how to write and speak with Biblical objectivity.

We still have another decade or two to stop the craziness, before cultural decay and debt-driven national bankruptcy lead more people to go from fierce words to sticks and stones.

We at WORLD can do one big thing and lots of little things. The big thing: Pray. The little things: Try to make our journalism part of the solution. Take a strong position on an issue when the Bible is clear, but while doing so treat others as opponents, not enemies. When the Bible is unclear on a particular issue, do not claim our own opinions are God’s.

You may have already heard our basic themes: Biblical objectivity, not existential subjectivity. Street-level reporting, not suite-level opining. Sensational fact, understated prose. The sky is not falling, because God holds up the sky. Do not ignore the “uns”: the unborn, uneducated, unemployed, unsafe, unchurched, unfashionable. We want such thinking to become habitual among our reporters. Scholar Arthur Brooks once got Barack Obama’s jaw to drop when he told him he was a conservative because he cared about the poor.

We also believe in teaching young and old how to become citizen journalists who know how to write and speak with Biblical objectivity. I mentioned in our July 18 issue a possible expansion of our World Journalism Institute. Dozens of readers emailed me expressions of interest, so here are dates for the three new mid-career courses we are planning: July 23-29, 2020, for journalism teachers at Christian schools. Jan. 7-13, 2021, for missionaries who want to write more effectively. July 22-28, 2021, for Christian professors who hope to gain a popular audience. To learn more about our mid-career and college programs, including application procedure, please go to

We think our WJI training works for the benefit of WORLD readers: We now employ full time or part time 45 college and mid-career course grads. But the training also benefits the Christian community generally: Hundreds work for ministries and other nonprofits. More than 100 labor in secular newsrooms, often as a lone Christian voice.

How does all this work financially? The lawyers, business executives, and professors coming to our courses have been paying their own way, but college course students, Christian schoolteachers, and missionaries pay no tuition and get free room and board. WORLD pays the salaries of all our staff members who serve as instructors.

Of course, when I say WORLD pays, I really mean that our generous members and donors pay. They’ve made it possible for us to upgrade our podcast coverage, investigative reporting, and Hope Award programming. Politicians hustle for contributions, but early in the 20th century Joseph Pulitzer laughed at those who placed their hope in presidential elections and did not see who really ruled America: big media such as his New York World. Pulitzer said presidents have four-year terms but the World “goes on year after year.”

If reading or listening to WORLD products this year has been helpful to you, and if you want to fight big media bias with Biblically objective truth, please donate by using the envelope in our printed magazine, or by giving online at

Marvin Olasky

Marvin is the former editor in chief of WORLD, having retired in January 2022, and former dean of World Journalism Institute. He joined WORLD in 1992 and has been a university professor and provost. He has written more than 20 books, including Reforming Journalism.



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