Government officials have a duty to be open, honest and truthful to our citizens and to the press--an expectation that has been absent in Donald Trump and his staff--they have repeatedly lied openly in speeches, press conferences and interviews in such a brazen way that it is breath-taking to those of us who have the reasonable expectation of integrity in our officials, whether elected or appointed, regardless of political leanings. This is a new and startling phenomenon not seen before in our history. It is corrosive to our public discourse, it is intolerable and it must be called out, not only by the press, but also by any of our institutions including churches that care about democracy, Christian values and integrity.
Sojourners is an important Christian publication with a focus on Christian ethics that routinely speaks truth to power. The article below, written by Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, was passed along to me by a friend because it raises issues that we as Christians, as humanists, as Americans must take seriously. The notion that “facts” are what the President says they are, that they are fungible and in the eye of the beholder, that facts are negotiable, undermines rational public discourse. “Alternative facts” are not facts—they are fiction, they are lies. Speaking truth to power is an ethical duty of anyone claiming to follow the the teachings and example of Jesus.
Here are some excerpts from the article:
This has become the biggest question in the first week of Donald Trump’s presidency, “What is truth?”
Since becoming president, Trump — both directly and through his top aides — has made a number of demonstrably false statements. Rather than backing away from these statements when confronted with the truth, he and his team have doubled and tripled down on claims that defy reason, logic, evidence, and just common sense….
Trump’s own narcissistic personality makes him incapable of acknowledging his own unpopularity. More deeply, these lies and Trump’s determination to stick to them show that he is obsessed with the image of his own legitimacy as president, despite having won an electoral victory by the rules in an election that experts and authorities across the political spectrum agree was not tainted by major fraud….
If you are successful in delegitimizing fact checkers and truth-tellers, pretty soon nobody knows what the truth is — and the strongest and most powerful voices, especially the one controlling the highest bully pulpit, get to define the truth as they see it….
This cannot be a political or partisan issue for people of faith. Truth-telling is a matter of faith for us and a fundamental principle of how we hold politics accountable. We cannot let our knowledge of both objective scientific facts and deeper spiritual truths become causalities of this administration. The free press has a critical role to play in protecting the truth — but so do people of faith and conscience….
To read the whole article, click here.