I’m tired of fake news. Actually, I’m tired of the term, “fake news.”
Today, they call it “fake news.” In the past, it’s been called, “misinformation,” “spin,” “propaganda,” and just plain old “lies.” You hear the term often in the news today, especially in relation to politics. Fake news is the deliberate spread of false information, in some form of media, with intent to gain politically or financially.
But “fake news” has another purpose. Using the term is a way to discredit real news, the truth. You don’t like a report in the news, just call it “fake news.” You don’t like the facts, create an “alternative” set of facts. You don’t like the message, attack the messenger.
It looks like “fake news” is not taking a break, even at Christmas, thanks to the American Atheist organization. The group has put up Christmas-themed billboards in Texas and New Mexico. The billboards show a traditional manger scene with the words, “Just skip church, it’s all fake news!”
The manger, the angels, the shepherds, the wise men, and the birth of the little baby. To the American Atheists, it’s all fake news. Since Christmas is supposed to be centered around the birth of Christ, I wonder if those atheists feel a little hypocritical celebrating the holiday at all.
But to millions over the years, including me, the birth of Jesus is not fake news, but good news. There may be some discussion about the logistics and timeframe of the birth. But to believers, the birth of Christ is not fake news, but good news, the Good News. Just as the angels proclaimed to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)
The first thing the angel declared was “Do not be afraid.” And the good news is that we don’t have to be afraid, even in these fearful times. (I suppose all times have been fearful times.) Why? Because we have a Savior, Jesus. The angel told Mary, Jesus’ mother, “You shall call His name Jesus, for he will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
And maybe that’s the problem that keeps many from celebrating the true meaning of Christmas. We don’t want to admit that we often don’t do what’s right. We don’t want to admit that there is something in us that often leads us in the wrong direction. To put it bluntly, we don’t want to admit that we are sinners.
So we put billboards on highways declaring we don’t believe. Or, instead of billboards, we put up a front to all around us that we have it all under control. We don’t need help. We don’t need a Savior. So we keep busy with our lives, occupied by all of our electronic devices and diversions. But then, in the still of the night, we feel it. We know it. We need help. We need a Savior.
I suppose it would be easy to get upset with the American Atheists about their billboard, and start complaining about the “War on Christmas.” But the angel told the shepherds that the birth of Christ was good news “for all the people.” That baby in the manger would thirty three years later die on a cross for all, including billboard atheists.
This is not the first time the American Atheist organization has put up billboards during the Christmas season. In past years, the group’s billboards have stated, “Keep the merry! Dump the myth!” But their most blatant billboard declared, “Who needs Christ during Christmas? Nobody.” Well, I reckon that makes me a nobody, a nobody who needs Jesus Christ. And not just during Christmas, but throughout the year.
Mac McPhail, raised in Sampson County, lives in Clinton and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.