So apparently Lipscomb’s Institute for Conflict Management held an event last week to promote dialogue and cooperation between different local religious groups. One of my favorite professors there, Dr. Lee Camp, spoke at one of the sessions.
This is all well and good, but the next day the Tennessean ran a front-page article about the conference, suggesting that Dr. Camp believes Christians should drop certain beliefs (like the Lordship of Jesus Christ) in order to get along with other religions. Naturally, all Sheol broke loose, with bloggers and talk radio personalities calling for Dr. Camp’s head, or at least his immediate firing. Dr. Camp and president Lowry were swamped with e-mails and phone calls. The real problem, however, was not what Dr. Camp said, but how the Tennessean completely misrepresented his views. Here is his response to the Tennessean article. Of all the Christians I know, he is one who has absolutely devoted himself to the concept of Jesus Christ as the Lord of his life, to the point of making suggestions that I think most conservative Christians would find simply too radical. (BTW, I highly recommend his book, “Mere Discipleship“, if you would like a deep and honest challenge to your current perceptions of Christianity.)
So, the Tennessean selectively quoted him to make it sound like he was saying something completely opposite of what he was really trying to say. Do they publish a retraction or correction? No. They do publish Dr. Camp’s response (not on the front page, of course), but don’t admit to any mistake. They simply note that he disputes their representation. They also include an article making note of how much publicity the whole sensational mess got them, and quote some random reader who says he agrees with the views that the paper falsely attributed to Dr. Camp. I’m currently not a Tennessean subscriber, but if they ever come knocking on my door, I’ll be sure to explain to them why I never intend to become one.
Most of the bloggers who first wrote about this and blasted Lipscomb and Professor Camp have since apologized or at least linked to the response, but some have claimed not to see how the paper misrepresented him. The argument is that they accurately quoted the words he said, so if he said it, he meant it. I’ve decided to create a fictional re-enactment to clarify how taking statements out context can distort their meaning.
At a ground-breaking dietetics conference:
Dietetics guru: So how could anyone in their right mind possibly be in favor of eating vegetables? Because vegetables are great for your body! They have vitamins, minerals, fiber, and lots of other great stuff, like bioflavonoids!
Impression given to conference attendees: The guru loves vegetables.
Published in big local newspaper:
DIETETICS GURU DENOUNCES VEGETABLES, FELLOW DIETICIANS STEAMED
At a recent groundbreaking conference in dietetics at … blah blah blah blah…
Says the guru: “How could anyone in their right mind possibly be in favor of eating vegetables?”
…blah blah blah blah…
Impression given to newspaper readers: The guru hates vegetables.
Was the dietetics guru misquoted? Technically, no.
Was the dietetics guru misrepresented? Absolutely!