This week I saw two contradictory Christian blog posts, one saying that an uptick in human sex trafficking accompanies the Super Bowl (and citing reliable articles that say so) and the other claiming that said human trafficking is an urban myth (and citing reliable articles that say so).
That would have been the end of it, with most of us concluding that that is life in a complicated world full of clues that are difficult to arrange into any sort of coherent explanation except . . .the second article, above, accused those who put forth the first viewpoint as “bearing false witness” and told them to stop breaking the Lord’s commandments (I reblogged the first post, so I guess that caution would have applied to me, too).
Wow! That was harsh. And frankly, seemed a bit calculated, like telling people who don’t agree with your opinion that they are wrong and should go to confession!
I don’t know what to do with that sort of “take no prisoners” diatribe.
After all, it is very close to the kind of things that were said about George W. Bush when he was called a war criminal for getting us into the war in Iraq with the idea that there were weapons of mass destruction there that were later found not to exist.
His intelligence folks told him that their best estimates said there were such weapons. His detractors later armchair quarterbacked that to say he should have been able to tell that the case his intelligence folks presented was flimsy.
Oh, yeah, when you are the Commander in Chief, you should have a foolproof falsehood screen so you can edit everything everyone tells you for absolute truth . . . (like that has ever happened).
Bearing false witness is a very important issue in the church. Lots of people repeat things they hear or repost things they read without the slightest worry that they are blackening the reputations of innocent people without researching the truth of what was said. But things can go too far the other way, too. You can repeat something that has indeed been vetted, and which you have gotten from a reliable news source and . . . you could still later find it to be wrong.
If you do, if I do, we need to fix our statement as soon as we possibly can.
But to take on a confession that we have borne false witness and to beat ourselves up for repeating something that was widely reported by others with expertise in the subject?
No, not so much.