Dear News: Journalism should be secular
As we approach the end of another winter holiday season — and Happy Kwanzaa, everyone — we are saddened, if not surprised, to learn that The Alpena News has decided to go all in as the house organ for the local Christian denominations. To wit, the Dec. 24 editorial, leading with five verses from The Gospel According to St. Luke, and then continuing with “a celebration of the humble birth of our Lord,” and, more elaborately, “We have seen it in your celebration of Christmas, in your live Nativity scenes and in your church programs and in the happy chorus of our many youngsters singing songs of praise.”
Now, we are not naive. We recognize that Alpena is a preternaturally aggressively Christian town, suggesting a 1950s suburban country club: No Jews Allowed. And we do not begrudge persons of faith their beliefs. As the Mormons say, “let them worship how, where or what they may” (as an aside, for every person who says “Jesus is the reason for the season,” there is a shopkeeper saying, “No. Staving off financial ruin is the reason for the season.”).
That said, our understanding of secular journalism (mind you, fostered in more ecumenical places than Alpena) tells us that The News is supposed to represent and serve everyone in the community, even if the number of non-Christians could not fill the back room at Gen-Ar’s. One calls to mind another New Testament verse: “Then saith (Jesus) unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” The Gospel According to Saint Matthew 22:21 (pertinent part) (KJV). The Alpena News most definitely should be Caesar’s.