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My beloved (somewhat conservative) presbyterian-pentecostal mother spends hours every week on dubious, supposedly Christian websites and then regurgitates their dubious prophesies and conspiracy theories. I rarely get to have a normal conversation with her anymore without her bringing up the World Economic Forum and Klaus Schwab in ways which completely overestimate their significance and/or nefarious nature. The issue is that she believes we are in the end times and her need to inform herself about anything and everything which could herald the end times has become insatiable. To the extent that she has completely lost her grasp of what constitutes a reliable source of information and will accept anything the internet feeds her.

So I want to help my mother by occasionally referencing reliable Christian-oriented sources which will allow her to keep up to date about real global issues which she can pray about. Can I use Christian Science Monitor, or would me pushing this likely be seen negatively in her very conservative Christian church? I do not want her friends to advise her that my reading Christian Science Monitor only shows that I have become wayward in my faith (because CSMonitor has origins in Christian Science, which other members of my mother's congregation would almost certainly consider to be a non-Christian grouping), which would be very counter-productive. In wider society it has a stellar reputation and I am under the impression that it does not push Christian Science per se, but what is its reputation among very conservative Christians who are very sincere about their faith?

My mother is a member of the linked denomination, but I appreciate insight on how Christian Science Monitor is viewed more widely. See: Apostolic Church

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  • My guess is you're right and that it is perhaps received negatively, since CS Monitor is from what's called 'New Thought' Christianity. They probably wouldn't consider it 'really' Christian, but probably not consider it worse than most secular media outfits is my guess. Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 2:48
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    Would it be worth posting a question on how to find readable yet reliable and restrained Christian sources (daily, weekly, or monthly publications) which place great value on writing well-researched current affairs articles with a lot of levity? Which do not have a track-record of making predictions, prophecies, theories etc in 2013 which by 2023 seem dated, naiive, irrelevant, misjudged, or excessively politicised? I have a feeling I might get these sources from the likes of Lutheran churches or Church of Scotland but I wouldn't want to be limit myself to those
    – novice
    Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 12:03

6 Answers 6

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Christian Science Monitor: a socially acceptable source among conservative Christians?

The Christian Science Monitor is owned by the Christian Science church.

Many Christians would not consider The Christian Science Monitor (CSM), an acceptable source for Christian information.

It was founded by Mary Baker Eddy who was in fact a Unitarian, a Spiritualist (who received "spirit communications" from her deceased brother Albert and took part in séances).

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, neither Unitarians, the Church of Divine Science, the Apostolic Church or the Church of Christ, Scientist (“Christian Scientists”) are recognized as Christian denominations because either their baptisms are invalid or they do not have baptisms at all. See: Valid-Invalid Baptisms

The vast majority of Christian denominations and Christians are trinitarian and as such would not agree with what The Christian Science Monitor professes.

What do Christian Science believe?

Here are nine things you should know about Christian Science.

  1. The ‘science’ of Christian Science is spiritual healing.

  2. Christian Scientists claim to have no doctrines—though they do have six tenets.

  1. As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life.
  1. We acknowledge and adore one supreme and infinite God. We acknowledge His Son, one Christ; the Holy Ghost or divine Comforter; and man in God’s image and likeness.
  1. We acknowledge God’s forgiveness of sin in the destruction of sin and the spiritual understanding that casts out evil as unreal. But the belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts.
  1. We acknowledge Jesus’ atonement as the evidence of divine, efficacious Love, unfolding man’s unity with God through Christ Jesus the Way-shower; and we acknowledge that man is saved through Christ, through Truth, Life, and Love as demonstrated by the Galilean Prophet in healing the sick and overcoming sin and death.
  1. We acknowledge that the crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection served to uplift faith to understand eternal Life, even the allness of Soul, Spirit, and the nothingness of matter.
  1. And we solemnly promise to watch, and pray for that Mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus; to do unto others as we would have them do unto us; and to be merciful, just, and pure.
  1. Their ‘pastor’ is not a human, but a pair of books.

For Christian Scientists, the ultimate textual authority is not the Bible but Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.

  1. Christian Scientists distinguish between Jesus and Christ.

For Christian Scientists, Jesus was a man who lived in first-century Palestine and Christ is the name for a certain divine idea: “Jesus is the human man, and Christ is the divine idea; hence the duality of Jesus the Christ.” The invisible Christ (“the ideal Truth, that comes to heal sickness and sin through Christian Science”) became perceptible in the visible Jesus, who was a mere man and demonstrated the divine idea. Eddy once said, “If there had never existed such a person as the Galilean Prophet, it would make no difference to me.”

  1. Christian Scientists deny the Trinity and replace the person of the Holy Spirit with ‘divine Science.’

In Science and Health, Eddy denies the historic doctrine of the Trinity: “The theory of three persons in one God (that is, a personal Trinity or Tri-unity) suggests polytheism, rather than the one ever-present I AM.” In place of this concept, Eddy outlines her version of the triune God:

Life, Truth, and Love constitute the triune Person called God,—that is, the triply divine Principle, Love. Divine trinity They represent a trinity in unity, three in one,—the same in essence, though multiform in office: God the Father-Mother; Christ the spiritual idea of sonship; divine Science or the Holy Comforter. These three express in divine Science the threefold, essential nature of the infinite.

  1. Christian Scientists believe that matter—and sin—are illusions.

  2. Most people only know of Christian Scientists because of their Reading Rooms and their newspaper.

Two institutions most associated with Christian Science are Reading Rooms and The Christian Science Monitor. The Manual of The Mother Church directs that “each church of the Christian Science denomination shall have a Reading Room” and that “literature sold or exhibited in the reading rooms of Christian Science Churches shall consist only of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, and other writings by this author; also the literature published or sold by The Christian Science Publishing Society.” The sect describes a Reading Room as “a place to read, pray, and get inspired” and “a space where many have been healed by studying the lessons of the Bible and nurturing a connection with God.”

  1. Christian Scientists helped create religious exemptions for medical-neglect laws.

  2. Christian Scientists can take medicine, visit doctors, and don’t necessarily oppose state-mandated vaccinations.

Spiritual healing is a core teaching of Christian Science. Yet while Christian Scientists are discouraged from using medicine or seeking health care from a doctor, it is not necessarily forbidden by the religion. The official position of the sect is that it is a matter of individual conscience. On the issue of vaccine mandates, the official position of the sect is it has “appreciated vaccination exemptions and sought to use them conscientiously and responsibly, when they have been granted.”

Hendersonville Presbyterian Church does not mix their words either. Christian cults have been around since ancient times. The Early Church saw Gnosticism in the 2nd century, then Docetism, Marcionism and Ebionites. Nowadays we have Christian Science!

Christian Science officially known as “The First Church of Christ, Scientist.”

The principles of Christian Science are not admitted by the Christian Churches and sects” because of its teachings on the unreality of matter, sin, and suffering.

Key points

  • “Sin, illness, and disease are all illusions of the mind to be corrected by right thinking.” Their doctrine emphasizes healing of the mind and body.

  • Suffering and death are the effects of false thinking.

  • Jesus (who is not the Christ but was a very good man) revealed to people of his day their illusion of illness and thus cured them. Only God is real; all else is an illusion.

  • Jesus didn’t suffer on the cross, was not physically resurrected, and will not return.

  • Heaven and hell are simply states of one’s mind.

  • Jesus was not God because God is perfect. All humans are less than perfect, therefore God could never have come to us as simply a man.

  • “Genesis 2 is a lie; the virgin birth was a spiritual idea; the Trinity is pagan;...prayer to forgive sin is pointless.”

Christian Cults Then and Now

The vast majority of conservative Christians would not put any stalk into what the Christian Science Monitor has to say. It does not always pass the smell test for journalism on religious topics.

“Christian Science" is an oxymoron in the sense that "Christian" implies some form of dogma and set of beliefs to be adhered to, while "Science" is a method that does not and cannot have a strict dogma. Unfortunately, it's an oxymoron that has attracted a sizable following (which isn't entirely surprising, since the "Science" part of the name was tacked on to gain credibility). Contrary to the name, followers of "Christian Science" do not actually believe in science — or even, it would seem, their own senses, since they specifically deny any evidence which contradicts their interpretation of the Bible. There are also some who would doubt that their religion is particularly Christian, but that is beyond our scope.

The following may also be of some interest:

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    But this explains why you consider Christian Science itself to be "wrong". The real question is about how reliable or biased are the news stories in one specific publication. A quick look at Christian Science Monitor doesn't show anything that's blatantly pushing their doctrines. Do you have any examples of how their reporting of world news is unacceptable to mainstream Christians? Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 14:19
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    @Ken Graham, Your answer gives me the information I need about how CSM could be viewed by sincere Christians. However to probe you further on CSM, would it be fair to say it is more recognised and respected than its sponsor? Just as The Times (British newspaper) is more respected than Rupert Murdoch, and the Russian newspaper Kommersant, whilst based in Russia and existing at the pleasure of Putin, has nevertheless many times summoned the courage to question the shrinking space for freedom of speech in Russia. I do think media should often be judged independent of their sponsors in practice.
    – novice
    Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 14:27
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    "Many Christians would not consider The Christian Science Monitor (CSM), an acceptable source for Christian information." — True. But neither would Christian Scientists themselves. It isn't a source of Christian information; it is a source of secular news that could be of interest to Christians. Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 14:42
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    "The vast majority of conservative Christians would not put any stalk*[sic] *into what the Christian Science Monitor has to say." — On matters of religion, sure (as in the last link), but what about secular topics? Is there any bias there? ¶ "It just does not pass the smell test for journalism." — Its Pulitzer prizes don't agree with that claim. Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 19:26
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    @Ken Graham In your last link, the Catholic League criticises CSM for giving a platform to an anti-catholic critic. But the article conveys that CL finds this astonishing because it ordinarily has a high degree of respect for CSM. Given the often respectful attitude of organisations including CL for CSM, couldn't you tone down your assertion it "does not pass the smell test for journalism"? "Donohue... was astonished that a responsible publication like the Monitor would...While we respect [CSM] and have no reason to doubt its intentions and sincerity, we will be monitoring the newspaper..."
    – novice
    Commented Jan 17, 2023 at 1:19
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Christian Science Monitor: a socially acceptable source among conservative Christians?

There is no reason (other than unreasonable fears caused by their own prejudices) why anyone would object to this publication.
(Do you refuse to donate items to the Thrift Shop because it is run by a religious organization (The Salvation Army)?)

The Christian Science Monitor happens to be published by a religious organization for the purpose of providing suitable world news to their members (and the rest of the world), but that doesn't mean that it is used by that organization to bias that reporting or that its articles are intended to change the religious views of other readers.

Their staff seem quite reputable, and have received seven Pulitzer Prizes while writing for the Monitor, a strong indication of their reliability.

Reporting

Despite its name, the Monitor is not a religious-themed paper, and does not promote the doctrine of its patron, the Church of Christ, Scientist. However, at its founder Eddy's request, a religious article has appeared near the end of every issue of the Monitor.

The paper has been known for avoiding sensationalism, producing a "distinctive brand of nonhysterical journalism". In 1997, the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, a publication critical of United States policy in the Middle East, praised the Monitor for its objective and informative coverage of Islam and the Middle East.

During the 27 years while Nelson Mandela was in prison in South Africa after having been convicted of sabotage, among other charges, The Christian Science Monitor was one of the newspapers he was allowed to read. Five months after his release, Mandela visited Boston and stopped by the Monitor offices, telling the staff "The Monitor continues to give me hope and confidence for the world's future" and thanking them for their "unwavering coverage of apartheid". He called the Monitor "one of the more important voices covering events in South Africa".

During the era of "McCarthyism", a term first coined by the Monitor, the paper was one of the earliest and most consistent critics of US Senator Joseph McCarthy.

In 2006, Jill Carroll, a freelance reporter for the Monitor, was kidnapped in Baghdad, and released safely after 82 days. Although Carroll was initially a freelancer, the paper worked tirelessly for her release, even hiring her as a staff writer shortly after her abduction to ensure that she had financial benefits. Beginning in August 2006, the Monitor published an account of Carroll's kidnapping and subsequent release, with first-person reporting from Carroll and others involved.

The Christian Science Monitor - Wikipedia

Compare the reliability and bias of the CSM with some other popular media sources, as shown in Ad Fontes Media's Media Bias Chart:

Reliability Political Bias Source
35.74 -15.04 MSNBC
42.35 -8.03 CNN
42.67 -7.75 NY Times
41.67 -7.33 Time
46.00 -5.17 PBS News
41.22 -5.09 USA Today
45.35 -2.18 Christian Science Monitor
44.75 -1.50 Catholic News Service
41.92 6.26 Christianity Today
39:10 8.55 National Catholic Register
35.96 13.26 Fox News

Its political bias is small, and its reliability is second only to PBS News (which is more than twice as far to the left).

This news organization should be praised for its value, not undeservedly slammed by someone that disagrees with the religion of its owners.

(And for the record, I don't hold, and never have held, the beliefs of that parent organization.)

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    "Do you refuse to donate items to the Thrift Shop because it is run by a religious organization (The Salvation Army)?" I don't understand the point of this sentence. Some refuse, some don't. How is that related to Christian Science Monitor?
    – JiK
    Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 17:01
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    @JiK asks "How is that related to Christian Science Monitor?". The Question asks whether the CSM is"a socially acceptable source [of world news] among conservative Christians?". That is equivalent to asking whether the Thrift Shop is a socially acceptable place to donate used clothing and household items. Very few people would condemn you for making such a donation simply because the store is owned by a specific denomination that they don't agree with. So why would they condemn you for reading news in an objective newspaper because of the denomination that happens to own it? Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 19:18
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    @RayButterworth The question is more about whether CSM would be considered authoritative by her church. "would me pushing this likely be seen negatively in her very conservative Christian church?" That it is centrist in its coverage would probably be seen as a negative, not a plus, by a 'very conservative' church. Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 20:55
  • People don't object to The Salvation Army because it's religious. It's their anti-LGBT bigotry people object to (including pushing for anti-LGBT laws).
    – tim
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 10:42
  • @ray, I think that Salvation Army point is a good corollary, one can disagree with their principles but see their good works and support them, the same could be said for the Christian Science Monitor.
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 14:21
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Everyone lies on somewhere of the political psychological spectrum of being left wing or right wing. Some are too devoted to the government, and some are too rebellious, supporting individualism and freedom. The recent couple of years have proven to be the fulfilment of all global conspiracy theories in front of our eyes. The agenda of WEF Schwab, Bill Gates is not a matter of conspiracy or speculation any more, but an open transparent, honest agenda in which the global control keeps growing rapidly and suddenly. I encourage you to watch related documentaries on Rumble, and join Twitter to gain some controversial knowledge, keep yourself updated with the best reliable sources on either sides.

End times, secret rapture are the typical beliefs of American Christians. Their religion revolves more around the "end times" headlines paranoia, than spiritual relation with God. I suggest you to discuss with her on specific issues based on reason. The notion of global end times has been believed throughout generations, and it shouldn't be taken in an absolute sense. You should just make sure that she doesn't take some radical step out of superficial paranoia and anxiety.

Regarding CSmonitor site. There is no monopoly on truth, there is no standard global fact checker. You cannot limit your knowledge on one tiny website. It could be biased in any direction. No man is right on every single view. So, trusting on any fact-checker is useless. Focus on reason, logic and faith in God's teachings to be confident in the troublesome times ahead.

[Matt 6:25-34 NHEB] Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? See the birds of the sky, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of much more value than they? "And which of you, by being anxious, can add one cubit to his height? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They do not toil, neither do they spin, yet I tell you that even Solomon in all his glory was not dressed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today exists, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, won't he much more clothe you, you of little faith? "Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What will we eat?', 'What will we drink?' or, 'With what will we be clothed?' For the unbelievers seek after all these things, for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

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Let's back up and look at your stated goal (at least what prompted you to ask the question)

The issue is that she believes we are in the end times and her need to inform herself about anything and everything which could herald the end times has become insatiable.

There's a theological component here. Your mother is absorbed with eschatology, and you want to have (at least ostensibly) a leg to stand on in talking to her about other issues, but without besmirching Christianity. I'm not sure the Christian Science Monitor gets you there.

The news portion is quite good. And it definitely is not heavily dogmatic like, say, The Christian Science Sentinel is. That doesn't mean it's dogma free, however. It still publishes pieces espousing Christian Science. Granted, that is an opinion piece, but the larger issue for you is that Christian Science says some things that mainstream Christians would find anathema to their own beliefs. Mary Baker Eddy wrote a book that says some rather interesting things about The Bible

The decisions by vote of Church Councils as to what should and should not be considered Holy Writ; the Science obscured manifest mistakes in the ancient versions; the thirty thousand different readings in the Old Testament, and the three hundred thousand in the New, — these facts show how a mortal and material sense stole into the divine record, with its own hue darkening to some extent the inspired pages.

The voting part is a reference to the Council of Nicea, but the latter part seems to indicate Eddy believed there were mistakes in Scripture. There's some other theological differences as well with this being a pretty big one (quote from Eddy herself)

Jesus is the human man, and Christ is the divine idea; hence the duality of Jesus the Christ

So... Christ wasn't actually God incarnate? That's a pretty important Christian tenet.

The problem you're going to face is that people are going to have a hard time believing that CSM isn't trying to smuggle bad theology in somewhere. A similar concern happened recently when The Chosen TV series (produced by two Mormons) was thought to be smuggling in Mormon theology. A quote from an unsourced Twitter user said

Another said, “It would be disingenuous to assume that Mormon theology has no impact” on the series. 

I'm not saying The Chosen is actually smuggling in Mormon theology (the case they make is pretty weak for that), but the fact that they are Mormon and said something not strictly in line with the Bible has given the story some legs. It's not unreasonable to assume that many mainstream Christians would view CSM the same way.

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  • Thank you for the down-to-earth answer. Out of interest, do you then think it's better to engage specific incorrect eschatologically motivated beliefs (eg it's become illegal for Australians to grow their own food) with sources with no religious agenda eg ft.com? Even though ft.com might be taken less seriously on the topic of the freedom to grow food because it might be too apathetic toward the importance of this kind of freedom to some conservative christians? (I'm under the impression CSM is more keenly aware of and more serious in their reporting on this kind of thing eg shorturl.at/gNX45)
    – novice
    Commented Jan 17, 2023 at 19:48
  • EDIT: I think it was actually Snopes which I used to fact-check this incorrect belief, not ft.com. But I still wonder whether a publication like CSM which is possibly more specialised in scrutinising restrictions to freedoms valued by conservative christians would be worse to reference in a discussion with my mum than a secular fact-checker like Snopes (and I am sure Snopes is much more in the crosshairs of political conservatives than CSM).
    – novice
    Commented Jan 17, 2023 at 20:03
  • @novice You won't find any truly unbiased sources. Instead, I would suggest reading a broad range of sources. Ray's answer mentioned the bias index, but that index can sometimes hide biases as well. But something to consider might be good commentary from well respected Christian leaders. Not every Christian ascribes to the idea that the world will end in flames tomorrow. Those people can have good commentary and resources that your mother and entourage might find more palatable.
    – Machavity
    Commented Jan 17, 2023 at 20:11
  • It would be disingenuous to assume that Mormon theology has no impact” — Could the same be said about Jewish theology for everything produced by MGM, or Warner Brothers, or Paramount, or Fox, or … ? Commented Jan 17, 2023 at 20:13
  • @RayButterworth I'm... not sure what you mean by that. That's not my position, it was the position of someone critical of The Chosen.
    – Machavity
    Commented Jan 17, 2023 at 20:14
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Frame challenge: Using your criteria,you almost cannot find a source.

The reality is that Wikipedia's list of Reliable Sources skews very left/secular, and self-perpetuates its bias. "Our reliable sources said x, your source says y, therefore not reliable". It's a flawed design which allows self perpetuating groupthink. Memes showing how articles on topics change overnight as soon as they become germane to a political controversy are popular among conservative audiences (and rightly so).

Any right leaning news source quickly contradicts CNN or MSNBC at some point and is eliminated. Last time I looked, several years ago, they had eliminated Fox News for any current politics and were openly discussing how all papers belonging to Richard Murdoch should be delisted.

On matters of religion, you have only to read most (not all) articles on any intersection of Christianity and social issues or Bible interpretation and you'll find emotive language,snarl words, weasel words, as well as fringe secular academics. Look at any prominent conservative Christian person's page and the 'Controversies' section will dominate the article (but never for a progressive).

On many biblical topic where Jews and Christians disagree about a bible verse, the Jewish view is presented as fact.

I suggest that you find primary sources and argue from there. The CSM is owned by a heretical denomination, as seen by any of the traditional tests of orthodoxy.

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    Would you consider that your use of 'eliminated' makes wiki editors sound less human and more machine-like, it would be best instead to assume good faith and that any wrong they are doing is not deliberate. Snarl is a word you use to describe people's expression when you are having a bad trip on shrooms, otherwise applies to dogs. It's been a slog but I've found two seemingly reputable sources which hopefully qualify as Christian, maybe you could give me feedback on them:christianchronicle.org , alpb.org
    – novice
    Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 1:04
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    @novice I was a relatively heavy editor at one point. I'm not assuming bad faith, I witnessed it first hand. Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 19:30
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    @novice No, pal. It's a standard term, used regularly in WP editing discussions. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the term or the way I used it. You hadn't even heard the term before, so you can get off your 'I can judge the appropriateness of your language' high horse. The fact that you found 6 centre right sources in a list multiple pages long, full of hard left sources, is next to meaningless. Daleks say 'annihilate', and eliminate was used by the Soviet Union, the intellectual atmosphere of which WP resembles more each year. Open minded? No way. Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 1:39
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    LA Times? Conservative? Are you for freaking real? Have you ever read anything by their editorial board? Seen their endorsements? How's your mum going to take you seriously on media bias when you don't take discerning it seriously yourself? Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 1:57
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    @novice. You're really into scolding people when they point out major flaws in what you're saying. Its really annoying, and frankly, bodes very poorly for any discussion you have with your mother. The LA Times has endorsed every hard left politician and cause for decades now. You're doing the classic 'Vox (or CNN, or whoever) says Vox and CNN and Wikipedia are unbiased, so they are, even though a cursory examination of their preferred sources shows that's wrong". PS WP was still salvagable in 2014. Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 2:14
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Monitor Ownership One cannot turn a blind eye to the ownership of any media output. This newspaper is an offshoot of the Christian Science religion. And one cannot escape the thought that some of its beliefs creep into its printing.

I.M. Haldeman wrote a book,Christian Science in the Light of Holy Scripture (Fleming H. Revell Co. 1909, 441 pp.). He compared the Christian Science beliefs with the Bible in all its major doctrines. And came to the definitive conclusion that the organization was neither Christian nor Science.

Modern medical science has left their doctrines in the dust, and the modern pharmaceutical industry would belie most of their assertions! Pain and suffering (and matter) are not illusionary after all.

Massive amounts of political, economic, international news reporting, etc. all rest on their faulty foundation of truth. Their editorials are one perspective, but should be read cautiously, and compared with other reliable media. A conservative Christian should not consider it something to promote since its fundamental teachings are glaringly anti-Christian! Paying for a subscription would be better spent elsewhere.

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