History: Why Christians Can’t Rely on News Editors


Are reporters biased? Sure. But reporter bias is not the most troubling problem when trying to get “the News.” Reporters are merely “field hands” or “harvesters.”  They aren’t the farmers who actually own the fields. The owners are the editors.  Just as farmers decide what crops will be planted on their lands, so, too, editors decide which reports will end up in their papers (or on their web pages, podcasts, and TV shows).  Editors are the ones really in control.

Auschwitz 70th Anniversary

Auschwitz (Creative Commons)

Editors are in charge of deciding what is and what is not news. A chilling—sad and sobering—reminder of the power of a news editor was on display this week as the world marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Jewish prisoners from Auschwitz.

About 300 Auschwitz survivors returned to the dreaded site of their incarceration to mark Tuesday’s official 70th anniversary of the death-camp’s liberation.  In conjunction with this emotional anniversary, the Daily Telegraph published a story about how their paper got the scoop on the rest of the world concerning the Nazi program of mass killing.

An exiled Polish Jew–Szmul Zygielbojm –worked feverishly to find out information about what was happening to Jews in Poland. His main motivation was to save his own family—a wife and son who remained captive to the Nazis in Poland. With more intrigue and drama than a Tom Clancy novel, Szmul Zygielbojm was finally able not only to get information about gas chambers and daily death tolls to the Daily Telegraph, but, even more impressively, he was able to get eyewitness accounts of mass killings smuggled out of Poland on microfilm hidden inside of a key.

At great personal risk, he carried out his plan and disclosed the entire, unimaginable affair to a newspaper reporter for the Daily Telegraph. Triumphantly, he waited for the world to revolt at the horrific news of the Nazi atrocities.

But the outcry of injustice never came. No one noticed the story when it was first published on June 25, 1942.  By the following April, Szmul Zygielbojm was both incredulous and in despair over what must have seemed like a sub-human lack of concern for suffering Jews (including his own family). By May of 1943, his family was dead. And in Szmul’s mind, his life was over, too. He wrote the following note before he killed himself:

“The responsibility for the crime of the murder of the whole Jewish nationality in Poland rests first of all on those who are carrying it out.

But indirectly it falls also upon the whole of humanity, on the peoples of the Allied nations and on their governments, who up to this day have not taken any real steps to halt this crime.

By looking on passively upon this murder of defenceless millions of tortured children, women and men they have become partners to the responsibility”[1]

No one can blame Szmul Zygielbojm for his cynicism and for pointing the finger of blame at all who were living happily while Jews were being slaughtered by the thousands. One of the main culprits, however, may well have been the editors at the Daily Telegraph. The truth of the matter is that Szmul had given them credible evidence of the worst mass murder in history, and they buried it in a small article on page 5. What if the mass killing of 1,000 Jews per day had been given front page, headline status in June of 1942? Might it not have awakened Europe sooner to the gravity of the Nazi problem?

I have documented below a fine article by Roy Greenslade concerning the Szmul Zygielbojm affair if you would like to read more about that sad set of circumstances coming out of WWII. For my purposes here, I ask this simple question: What are the editors of “the News” not telling us today? What page 5 stories ought to be on the front page?

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15,000 Christians Lose Their Homes, One Thousand Dead in Attack by Muslim Terrorists

Christians are not targeted by a single nation for extinction, the way the Jews were targeted by the Nazis. But Christians are targets of violence around the world. I think I understand why American news outlets put the Christian story on “page 5.” But Christians need no longer to depend on daily news editors to know what is really important, right?

                [1] As quoted by Roy Greenslade of The Guardian, whose fine article (Tuesday, January 27, 2015) is available online http://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2015/jan/27/daily-telegraphs-holocaust-article-in-1942-that-went-unheralded .  He tells the complete story very well.

Simple Ways to Stay Informed About Christian Persecution


People often ask me how they can stay informed about the persecuted church. I am glad to offer the following resources for those interested in staying up to date about the persecution of Christians around the world.

Persecution Resources Updates news First, there are ministries dedicated to serving the persecuted church. Three of the more popular ministries are Voice of the Martyrs (www.persecution.com); Open Doors (www.opendoors.org); and Barnabas Fund (www.barnabasfund.org), the latter of which operates out of the United Kingdom.  These three organizations have long track records of ministry to the persecuted.

Second, there are research agencies dedicated (at least partially) to discovering the extent Christians are being persecuted around the world.  Among the largest and most respected of these is the Pew Research Center, particularly the Center’s Religion and Public Life Project, which publishes an annual report each January detailing religious hostilities around the world (www.pewforum.org).  In addition to the Pew Research Center’s work, other entities provide global documentation of Christian persecution:

  •          The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), chaired by Dr. Robert P. George, is a bipartisan commission which produces an annual report to the Congress of the United States detailing issues germane to religious freedom from around the world (www.uscirf.gov).
  •          WorldWatch Monitor is a news agency which focuses on the persecution of Christians around the world (www.worldwatchmonitor.org).
  •          Forum 18 is a Norwegian human rights organization which covers religious freedom all over the world, but focuses primary attention on the former Soviet countries (www.forum18.org). The name is derived from Article 18 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, which promises freedom of religion.
  •          The Hudson Institute Center for Religious Freedom provides publications, Op-eds, and information related to religious freedom in the U.S. and around the world (http://crf.hudson.org/).
  •          China Aid is a human rights organization focused on religious liberty issues in China. Founder Bob Fu was instrumental in negotiating the escape and eventual release of the blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng in 2012 (www.chinaaid.org).
  •          The Center for the Global Study of Christianity is a research institution which works diligently to uncover accurate demographic data “to the ends of the earth.” This center is an outgrowth of work begun by David Barrett and his World Christian Encyclopedia research. This center resides on the campus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (http://www.gordonconwell.edu/resources/Center-for-the-Study-of-Global-Christianity.cfm).

The Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission provides information about and raises awareness of religious liberty issues in the U.S. and around the world (www.erlc.com).

Third, Voice of the Martyrs operates a unique web-based ministry for contacting Christian prisoners around the world. The website (www.prisoneralert.com) not only gives updated information about the righteous suffering in prison, but it also offers the opportunity to write an encouraging letter to those brothers and sisters—in their native language! It is a wonderful tool to help Christians obey Hebrews 13:3, remembering those in prison as though in prison with them.