September 8 – Our Freedoms: A Free Press

How Free is America’s Press?

Vital Sign Religious Freedom

The United States Constitution’s First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech or of the press…” 

Broadly, a free press means that news outlets, other publications, and individual citizens have the right to communicate information without influence or fear of retribution from the state or other powerful entities or individuals. The terms “free press” and “independent journalism” are often used interchangeably. 

The role of a free press is critical to a democratic republic in which the government is accountable to the people. A free media functions as a watchdog that can investigate and report on government wrongdoing. It also provides a vibrant marketplace for ideas, a vehicle for ordinary citizens to express themselves, and a means to gain exposure to a wide range of information and opinions. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black said in a case involving The New York Times, “The press was to serve the governed, not the governors.” 

According to Freedom House, media freedom has been deteriorating around the world over the past decade with new forms of repression taking hold in open societies and authoritarian states alike. After citing situations in other nations, they said, “In perhaps the most concerning development of recent years, press freedom has come under unusual pressure in the United States, the world’s leading democratic power.”

In May 2022, the Department of Homeland Security attempted to launch a “Disinformation Governance Board” to combat information errors. After press members, legislators, and others considered the Disinformation Governance Board a censorship arm of the administration and spoke out against it, the concept was abandoned for the time being.

The Lord commands His people to be truthful. Zechariah 8:16-17 says, “These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another, render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace; do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate declares the Lord.” 

How then should we pray? 

  • For the president and his administration to adhere to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights regarding the freedom of the press.
  • For American citizens to avail themselves of the liberty to communicate ideas, especially God’s truth.
  • For journalists in every form of media to impartially report the facts about events. 
  • For the public to seek discernment from the Lord to ascertain what is true as stories are being reported by the media.
  • For governing officials to protect the liberty of expressing thoughts and ideas without censorship.
  • For members of the press as they interact with and cover governing officials, including presidents.

See previous Pray 7 daily featured readings.

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