"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

A Defense of the Enid News & Eagle's Endorsement of Hillary Clinton on the Basis of a Higher Principle


I voted for Donald Trump.

For many people, including some of my own family members, the fact I voted for Donald Trump is upsetting. But as an American citizen who participates in the political process, I vote for a President every four years. This year I voted for Donald Trump.

I live in Enid, Oklahoma where the editorial board of the Enid News and Eagle, Enid's city newspaper, endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. In the 2012 Presidential Election, not one of Oklahoma's 77 Counties voted for Obama. Very few people in the city of Enid were going to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016. One would assume the newspaper's editorial would know this fact. 

I pastor a large, conservative evangelical church in Enid. I preach the good news of Jesus Christ every Sunday and dare not stain the gospel with politics. However, in our day of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms, a pastor would have to be blind and deaf not to know the preferences and personal biases of church members, whether it be about politics, entertainment or religion. I'm well aware that many people in the church I serve have been upset with the Enid News and Eagle's endorsement of Hillary Clinton.

The New York Times recently reported on Enid's newspaper's endorsement of Hillary Clinton with the headline "It Hasn't Been Forgiven." The Enid News and Eagle lost at least 162 annual subscriptions and nearly a dozen business advertisers over its support of Hillary Clinton. A few people angered by the endorsement are quoted in the New York Times. These offended folks may be strangers to many, but they are friends of mine. 

In the early 20th century, a young man named Marquis James left his work at the newspaper in Enid, Oklahoma and went on to become a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author, eventually moving to New York, to help establish The New Yorker magazine. Now a New York newspaper is coming back to Enid suggesting that the people of Enid "have not forgiven" its local newspaper for the endorsement of Hillary Clinton.

I suggest there is nothing to forgive.

There is a greater principle at stake for all of us.  The freedom of expression, or better known in America as "the freedom of speech," is at stake. This fundamental principle guarantees that all people live in true freedom. The First Amendment to the United States Consitution states that "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech." 

ABC News is reporting that at least 1,656 people have been arrested in Turkey for posting on social media their support of political candidates other than those already in power. That's what happens in a country where there is no freedom to speak one's mind. 

Some might object by saying, "But we are angry at a newspaper, not a government!" Yes, but we the people are America's government. That's what our Founding Fathers made very clear in America's Constitution.

If "we the people" force a newspaper to endorse only those whom we want them to endorse, or if a newspaper writes only those articles that we the people want them to write, then that newspaper ceases to operate in perfect freedom and becomes a public relations magazine for a community. The city of Enid has a Public Relations firm. We need our newspaper operating differently than a PR firm. 

It matters not if the weapon is a bullet or billfold, for a government (people) to exert tight control over what a person or institution is allowed to write or say is a loss of freedom to any community. None of us should want a newspaper who sacrifices its institutional integrity on the altar of community comfort. There is a higher principle at stake, and that's why I will defend the Enid News and Eagle and their endorsement of Hillary Clinton. 

A few years ago our church leadership made a decision on the basis of principle. We knew that for the good news of Jesus Christ to reach more people in an ever changing world, we would have to change our methodologies. Some older methods of conveying the gospel were shut down. New methods were begun. The truth didn't change, but the manner in which it was communicated did. Our leadership knew that if our methodologies didn't change, people would wake up one day, look around, and ask "Where did everybody go?" The answer is "New people were never reached." 

So changes came to the church I pastor.  New methods meant discomfort to some. But church leadership pressed forward because there was a higher principle at stake. We exist for the purpose of reaching the most people with Good News, not for the comfort of those people who already know the news. Our church is now reaching more people with the Good News than ever before. Some members uncomfortable with the changes left, taking their money with them. The cost of living by principle is sometimes steep. Yet, in the end, all of us must respect any institution which places higher regard on fundamental principles than community comfort.  

So, Enid News and Eagle, this subscriber who voted for Trump will keep my subscription out of respect for the higher principle of freedom of speech.

POST PUBLISHING EDIT (Again): Jeff Funk, Publisher of the Enid News and Eagle called me and told me that the editorial endorsement for Hillary Clinton was written by him using bullet points from CNHI, and after discussing the issue with Jeff (who was very gracious), I believe Jeff and Rob wrote the editorial reflecting their personal beliefs. Without the encouragement of CNHI, Jeff Funk would have most likely not endorsed anyone, but any implication that the editorial was not Jeff's opinion and expressed his personal beliefs is off-base. I stand by this article that we should defend freedom of speech. 

23 comments:

goobergal said...

Thank you Wade! I was very disappointed when I read about the issues at the Enid News & Eagle. Especially the large business owners. I wonder how many of those cancelled subscribers would have chose to cancel if Mr. Allen hadn't been so public about his. Also, I believe Jeff Mullins is an outstanding writer. I could be wrong but I don't ever recall him writing anything about a company in Enid that would take business away from them. It is really sad. People have the right to speak their mind but folks like Paul Allen have shown weakness in their character and their professional life.

Wade Burleson said...

Well, I don't know goobergal about any "weakness of character" in Paul. From my experience, he is a man of great character. I'm just not sure he thinks along the same lines I do in terms of "the higher principle" at work.

Bob Cleveland said...

It's not at all surprising that people's focus is so narrow that they cannot see the big picture when focusing on the small. If it even applies in church .. and it certainly does, in my experience ... then I'd think all the more in the secular.

Good, bold post.. well done, sir.

Tim Gungoll said...

Actually Goobergal you missed the whole principle expressed by Mr. Burleson and Mr.Allen. In a free marketplace of ideas the paper gets to take it's own position as does Mr. Allen. I respect each of them enough to exercise those rights. In exercising those rights we also must deal with the consequences. The consequence to Mr. Allen is that you feel the way you do. I am confident that he does not care. The consequence to the paper is losing subscriptions. While it may affect their bottom line, that is a consequence of taking controversial positions that I am sure they considered when endorsing Hillary. It also shows that they are true to either their principles or corporate bosses. The rest of us three are left to be judged good or bad by any reader that happens along. It is not persecution to unsubscribe, it is to act upon conscience. It is persecution to criminalize those who express ideas with whom we disagree. Thankfully that is not yet occurring in this country.

Wade Burleson said...

"It is not persecution to unsubscribe, it is to act upon conscience."

Excellent point, Tim. I agree wholeheartedly.

I'm using my blog to try to convince people of conscience that the freedom to express principled disagreement is something we should protect and not scorn, even if it happens to be the editorial board of the hometown newspaper.

chattergal said...

I don't read the paper never have but I have friends who complained that the paper was on Hillarys side and way too liberal for their liking I don't know if they canceled their subscription but I would like to say a newspaper a news reporter are suppose to give us the news tell us what is happening that we need to be aware of not give us their opinion or who they are supporting because invariably you will ostersize one half of your people who read your paper or watch your news show to find out what is going on in the world so let's get back to journalism and we won't have to worry about our 1 amendment rights

Wade Burleson said...

Chattergal,

Good points.

I would respond that since the inception of print newspapers, editorials have been a part of the publishing industry. The endorsement of Clinton was on the editorial page, which by definition, is not a news page.

Some think newspapers should stay out of the editorial business, but I say that no news organization is without bias, and I'd rather know outright the bias of the editors of a newspaper by reading their opinions on the editorial page than having to guess at their biases when reading "the news."

Thanks for your comment.

ScottShaver said...

Looks like Enid News and Eagle has a better leg to stand on for reconsideration of backlash than one Russell Moore of the SBC ERLC.

ScottShaver said...

Another great thing about "free speech" is that it does not eliminate the possibility of popular, cultural or theological "backlash". Say what you want but don't cry, lie or dodge when the the words reverberate back on your head.

Wade Burleson said...

Scott,

Agreed.

A person (or institution) of principle shouldn't complain when people are upset. Just live. Just be. And let others live, and others be.

:)

Anonymous said...

I am most sad that individuals who made a decision to stop their paper service have been named and called out by the business. I feel like this further damages trust in our community. I hope they gave their approval before such a public display was brought against them. Thanks for your blog.

Rex Ray said...

I voted twice for Trump.

“If you don't read the newspaper, you're uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you're miss-informed.” Mark Twain

Wade, you’re right; everyone in America has freedom of speech even though it may be stupid.

Hillary’s ‘death warrant’ was being endorsed by Obama. He stated if it wasn’t for the Constitution preventing him a third term, he would have beat Trump.

If ego had lift, he would float to the moon, or if ego had weight, he’d need a wheel-barrel.

This is some tweets from Trump.


https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/trump-takes-twitter-slam-obama-161032622.html

Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump
“Doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory President Obama statements and roadblocks. Thought it was going to be a smooth transition - NOT! We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the U.S., but.......not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this (U.N.)! Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!”
Obama has expelled 35 Russian nationals and sanctioned five Russian entities and four individuals for an alleged cyber assault on Democratic political organizations during the 2016 presidential campaign, the White House announced today.
https://www.yahoo.com/gma/punishment-alleged-russian-hacking-expected-announced-today-153305821--abc-news-topstories.html
Obama said: “I have ordered a number of actions in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election,”

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

I assume you voted in the primary and in the general election for Trump? :) Just didn't want the Federal Election Commission accusing you of fraud!

Joel said...

Wade,

I agree with everything you said, however I did not renew my subscription. The people involved are all good and honorable. Well, except for the unnamed folks who made threats. I don’t support their behavior.

Freedom of speech is one of the glorious benefits this wonderful experiment in democracy called American. It needs to be cherished and protected. Having said that, there are some important takeaways for people involved in the exercising freedom of speech.

One, the managers and owners of media outlets such as the EN&E need to be defenders of the forum first and freedom of speech second. If the forum becomes obsolete or intolerable to enough people, it will cease to exist. Where is freedom of speech then? Case in point - our defunct public access TV channel Pegasys.

Two, the powerful twin of freedom of speech is competition. There must be consequences to our actions. When a comment is posted without an attached name, it should be rightly discounted. Someone putting it on the line, such as yourself, earns a place of honor.

Loss of readership is a consequence. In the early years of Enid, there were numerous outlets for news. The Enid News and Eagle arose from the joining of The Enid Morning News and The Daily Eagle, two of many in the day. There are numerous non-print outlets for news. If the only reason to subscribe is the Obituary section, they have already failed. Now may be the time for Curtis and The Enid Buzz to seize the day, ushering in a new era of local coverage.

Three, Jeff sharing your post is a little bit like the bird singing in the Cow Dung story and the New York Times is the cat. The moral being, I don’t trust people from outside the community to know what is actually going and, more importantly, what is best for me.

My trust of Milton Garber, a man who built the EN&E and Enid, is greater than my trust of CNHI and Retirement Systems of Alabama when it comes to knowing what is best for Enid. Editorials from local, vested business people are one thing. Edicts from afar are another.

Best wishes for the New Year!

Joel Champlin

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

I agree editorials are opinions even if based on facts.

Today’s editorial:

1. Since January 2008, the U.S. population has grown by more than 20 million but the number of jobs has increased by less than 7 million.

2. Now there are 95 million out of work. About 14.5 million more than when Obama took office.

3. Food Stamp enrollment is up by 16 million compared to 2008.

4. Thanks to Obama administration’s takeover of student lending industry…the loan debt is over $1.3 trillion.

5. ‘Obama Care’ is a disaster.

6. Obama has added $10 trillion to the national debt. More than all other Presidents combined.

7. The most positive thing about Obama’s time in office is IT’S ALMOST OVER.

Wade Burleson said...

Joel,

You pretty much expressed my sentiments -

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

Off topic, but maybe not.

http://thefederalist.com/2016/12/30/epa-alaskans-sub-zero-temps-stop-burning-wood-keep-warm/

Obama’s fight to prevent climate change has EPA working overtime. This ‘demand’ by EPA to Fairbanks, Alaska is almost laughable. I have relatives there and my second son was born there. I’ve been seven times, and at 30 degrees below 0, the hair in your nose feels like barbwire.

There is no gas available, and you’d need a second job to burn oil.

RRR said...

I wish that our churches could be sanitized of "politics".

I believe it is counter-evangelistic to discuss politics in Bible study and worship services. Most evangelical churches have become so identified with the Republican Party as to alienate people of opposing parties. We have demonized Democrats and political liberals to the point that they could not enter into the Christian fellowship of most of our churches.

What if a lost person who identified with the Democratic Party, came under conviction and wanted to know what the Bible teaches about Christ and began to search for a church that held strongly the concept of Biblically-based teaching and preaching. Where would they find a small group Bible-study session that did not ostracize them? I don't know where they would go.

That's a pretty sad situation.

Wade Burleson said...

RRR,

Precisely the reason we never stain the gospel with politics.

Anonymous said...

RRR,
Yesterday, our SS lesson was about God in Psalms 119:89-96. Verse 91 had “…all things are Your servants.” Since many things are the enemies of God, the class agreed that NLT was a better translation: “…everything serves your plans.”
I took the liberty to give several of our SS classes a paper title: “Trying to Understand God”. It contained what you and Bob Cleveland wrote on Wade’s blog: “Christmas, the Trinity, Husbands and Wives”…December 9, 2016. The paper had: “(Retired Insurance Broker…disjointed musings of nobody in particular.”) and (RRR is a missionary in Nepal.)
Thank you.
Rex (my computer is on the blink again and I’m using Judy’s.

Christiane said...

In the deep mid-winter, may we as Christian people still remember to celebrate the Coming of the Light
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcoS6H0Bo_s

Let nothing trouble you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

(St. Teresa of Avila)

Pege' said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pege' said...

Wade, We have two newspapers here in Colorado Springs. One is the Gazette and one is the Independent. Two very very different points of view. I like reading both. Now you have to understand one thing, the Independant...a leftist, Marxist leaning tabloid whose many advertisers are the local head shops and MJ dispensaries. The Gazette more conservative. I want to understand others thoughts and ideas. I do not agree always with either's point of view sometimes and get miffed about some of the contents of both. I am continually baffled at people's responses to opposing ideas and comments. Both sides continually become more and more myopic and closed-minded. Reacting instead of listening and thinking. I am thrilled that we have such a diverse background in education and politics. I wonder if some of the folks who chaff at the Enids news endorsement of Hillary would have reacted this way when Thomas Jefferson called John Adams a hermaphrodite when they were running against each other. It is a secular newspaper...should it be put out of business for having a different belief or thought than you? Are we not big enough people to take it on the chin every once in a while?