JEAN Oosthuizen's article “RSG voer ons 'n geestelike hongerdieet” (Rapport, 7 December) is spot on. RSG and the Afrikaans mainstream newspapers indeed sound like “Radiokansel on steroids" and a “reprint of the late Solly Ozrovech's books" — a participation in “the dumbing down of society", he writes with good cause.
I want to go a step further. Oosthuizen writes about the “that”; I want to add something about the “what”.
It is noticeable that “spiritual" programmes concentrate only on a rosy picture of the Christian god — the one who would love, care for, comfort, guide and save us. The one who supposedly loves us.
But this is not the complete picture. There is another side to this god, invented by Jews and later adopted and adapted by Christians and Muslims.
The media simply ignores the dark side of that god, exactly like the churches. It is fundamentally dishonest, and it misleads people and offers them false comfort.
The media is silent about that cruel god who damns me to eternal judgement just because I was born — because I have to take responsibility for “Adam" (a mythical figure) who would have sinned; who created or allows hell, where people are tortured for eternity.
They are quick to tell you that salvation is possible but neglect to mention that the requirements for salvation are of such a nature that billions of people over the millennia could not or would not meet them — with the result that they are all destined for the eternal fire.
This is a god who sends bears to tear children apart for mocking someone about his bald head; who sends a flood to destroy all and sundry; who deprives innocent parents of their first-born children; who saw to it that Moses and the Levites killed thousands of people who were not “for him", regardless of whether they were family, friends or neighbours; who kills someone for picking up wood on the sabbath; who stipulates that children who dishonour their parents must be killed; who will listen to prayers again only if people are hanged “before him".
This is a god whose wrath can be quenched only if blood flows — the blood of animals and yes, also of humans. Like Jesus' blood.
It is a god who determines the borders of Israel, where other people lived, and who then orders genocide upon genocide to achieve it. (Of course it's the other way around — the Jews determined the borders and then attributed them to their god.) Yes, the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusites and others had to be militarily defeated and even exterminated to ensure Israel's survival.
It sounds rather familiar, doesn't it?
Feel free to ask those victims if they really still think that god loves them; go ask the billions of people going to hell the same question. Do people really believe in a god who damns them? In a god who says: “You're going to hell bro — but just remember, I love you"?
Does the media ever consider this? Or do they simply imitate the churches without rhyme or reason?
This skewed picture also applies to “dear Jesus", the man who requires hatred towards family members before they can follow him; who warns his disciples not to judge but then himself calls the Pharisees “serpents" and a “generation of vipers"; who accepts John the Baptist as the new Elijah (who had hundreds of Baal prophets killed).
This is the same person who drives demons out of Legion — and then drives them into a herd of pigs (instead of sending them to hell, where they belong); who encourages his disciples to sell their clothes to buy a sword; who, like his contemporaries, describes non-Jews as “dogs"; who did not utter a single word against slavery.
I wonder what believers say about Luke 19:27: “Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king, bring them here and slay them before me!" I've never heard anyone preach about it.
Like the god of the Bible, “dear Jesus" is a fabrication (in fact, like all gods of all religions), a god that can exist only if there is also a devil. And the Afrikaans media participates cheerfully and uncritically in the religious indoctrination.
The media does this not only by presenting a one-sided god image but also by stifling critical voices. Just ask the George Claassens and the Jurie van den Heevers of the world.
Like Oosthuizen, I am afraid that NP van Wyk Louw's search for an open discussion unfortunately fell through the cracks — even in a so-called democratic country with its secular constitution.
If RSG, and with it the media in general, want to confront the public with the god of the Bible and with Jesus, they must not proceed selectively or silence critical voices. Like Oosthuizen, I also ask that the media respect other voices, even if those voices are in the minority.
This will enable the public to make a better decision about whether they still want to believe in that god and still want to worship him.
Johan Retief was a minister, lecturer in biblical studies, theology and journalism, and national press ombudsman for almost 10 years. He is the author of the textbook Media Ethics: An Introduction to Responsible Journalism (2002, Oxford University Press) and The Bad News of the Gospel: My journey to salvation (2022, Naledi).
♦ VWB ♦
BE PART OF THE CONVERSATION: Go to the bottom of this page to share your opinion. We look forward to hearing from you.