Any phrase or quote is at risk of being used out of context by activists who generate “outrage” that adds more flames to certain social media stakes.
The polarisation in social media has many faces. One of them is that of activists of several causes (some of which are just and respectable) who see the initiatives led by Christians in their local contexts as a sort of threat.
In their interest in fighting what they see as “proselytism” or even “colonialism”, these internet users distort good solidarity and social justice efforts to the point of imagining realities that are totally non-existent.
Recently, we at Evangelical Focus have read this kind of slander in response to our publication of testimonies from Christians in India working hard to respond to dramatic Covid-19 crisis in the country. Similar attacks emerged after another recent report about the efforts made in Haiti to provide education and food for children in risk of exclusion.
As the issue came up in conversations with colleagues of other online news platforms, we realised there effectively has been an increase of the aggressiveness among some type of social media activists.
So what is the context for these insults and lies against well-intentioned Christians?
Firstly, we are aware the information published online can reach anyone anywhere, especially if it is written in English. Throughout 2020, users from literally every country in the world (except North Korea) accessed Evangelical Focus. Although most of our visitors would consider themselves as Christians, there are many others that land on our site holding another worldview. This is why we make an effort to use a journalistic language that is understandable for everyone. We would love for our non Christian audience to find something encouraging on this site.
But we are also aware that the Christian faith will face opposition from competing worldviews. Be it politicised religious movements in India or exclusivist nationalist ideas in Haiti, many of our beliefs and values will be fought back.
It is the truth itself that suffers most when differences are turned into a conflict. Any phrase or quote is at risk of being used out of context when some have an interest in expressing “outrage” that adds more flames to certain social media stakes.
So, how are we at Evangelical Focus going to proceed?
On the one hand, with caution. Knowing that even good stories can be used to damage the reputation of their protagonists, we will continue to try to be wise about how we report the issues. In situations of persecution, we will put the security of people ahead of the mere information.
On the other hand, we will continue to share what Christians are doing for the good of the communities they live in. We will continue to put a special emphasis on the initiatives that involve local leadership, collaboration between different groups, and international generosity.
But there are also a couple of questions to be made to those who slander Christians only because of their faith. Is there any way in which making gratuitous judgements against your Christian neighbour helps your community to improve? And, what should a third person think of your ethics and credibility if you attack those members of your community who, with a sincere faith and a desire of service, do good to their neighbours?
For us Christians, it is encouraging to find several encouragements to those who are vilified for their faith in the New Testament. They are asked not to stop in their efforts to serve God and serve everyone else.
We at Evangelical Focus would like to encourage you in the same terms. Keep up the good work!