Freedom of the Press and The Christian Science Monitor

For me, the most important passage in the Constitution of the United States is this one:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
– First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

The citizens of the United States need to be informed to be able to carry out their duties and responsibilities. To stay informed we need a press that isn’t owned by corporations or politicians. To stay informed we need members of the press who have the courage to bring the truth to their audience. To stay informed we need a citizenry receptive to what the press has to share, and able to question, for themselves, what they hear, read, and see. 

Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, was witness to the yellow journalism of of the late 1800s and, in 1908, at the age of 87,  created her own newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor, in response. Eddy wrote that the mission of her paper was “To injure no man, but to bless all mankind.” She wrote:

“It is the pulpit and press, clerical robes and the prohibiting of free speech, that cradles and covers the sins of the world,—all unmitigated systems of crime; and it requires the enlightenment of these worthies, through civil and religious reform, to blot out all inhuman codes.  It was the Southern pulpit and press that influenced the people to wrench from man both human and divine rights, in order to subserve the interests of wealth, religious caste, civil and political power.”
– Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings

“When the press is gagged, liberty is besieged; but when the press assumes the liberty to lie, it discounts clemency, mocks morality, outrages humanity, breaks common law, gives impulse to violence, envy, and hate, and prolongs the reign of inordinate, unprincipled clans. At this period, 1888, those quill-drivers whose consciences are in their pockets hold high carnival. When news-dealers shout for class legislation, and decapitated reputations, headless trunks, and quivering hearts are held up before the rabble in exchange for money, place, and power, the vox populi is suffocated, individual rights are trodden under foot, and the car of the modern Inquisition rolls along the streets besmeared with blood.”
– Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings

The passages about the press that Mary Baker Eddy wrote 120 years ago seem timely today, too, don’t they?

A month ago I began a subscription to The Christian Science Monitor. According to the Quora website: “The Monitor has a solid reputation in the industry, especially in the field of international reporting. They hold 7 Pulitzer Prizes for their work in journalism.” And according to Allsides.com: “The Christian Science Monitor has maintained its reputation within the news industry as a well-run, high quality news organization with minimal bias.”

I suppose there are folks who might see the words “Christian Science” in the title of the newspaper and immediately assume the paper has a religious bias… which… actually shows a bias in the person assuming a bias. Right? 🙂

I have really come to appreciate this newspaper in the last month: It is unbiased and fair; It presents news without sensationalism; It presents at least one “feel good” story in each edition that helps give me hope for the world; and it presents me with the information I need to carry out my duties as a responsible citizen of the United States.

Mary Baker Eddy did a good thing when she started this newspaper. 

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