I have a confession to make. I just broke a cardinal rule of being a Banner editor.
I thought I’d best come clean now, before you reach into your church mailbox and find out about it on an August Sunday morning.
You may remember that the every household Banner has an “editorial hedge.” The Church@Work section consists of eight pages of stories about the denomination and its ministries, ably collated and edited by my colleague Henry Hess, director of communications for the Christian Reformed Church. That section helps you to stay in touch with the many CRC ministries you support in so many ways and provides them with an avenue to communicate back to you.
The rest of The Banner remains my responsibility, editorially independent from agency control. I answer to synod for the magazine’s content, although I certainly benefit greatly from the mutually warm and productive relationships with the denominational office and the agencies, institutions, and ministries of the CRC.
I’m an avid admirer and supporter of all those ministries. But it’s important—and synod has agreed—for The Banner to stay “at arm’s length” from them in order to ensure objectivity and fairness to all of them and, if need be, to communicate honestly and openly to you, our readers, if and when, God forbid, things go wrong. The Banner needs to remain a trustworthy source of information, education, and inspiration. For that it needs to maintain its credibility scrupulously.
So here’s my confession. I broke the rule that keeps me from getting involved materially in the work of any one agency.
I broke the rule once before—I kept working for Faith Alive when I took on Banner editing. But that was forgivable because it was a pre-existing situation that all consented to.
This time it’s different. I was invited to participate in a specific agency initiative. When I consulted with my staff and my boss, they voiced some concerns. Rightly so. But because of the nature of this particular enterprise, they gave me their blessing.
The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee has invited me to become a spokesperson for their Embrace AIDS campaign, a two-year effort challenging the CRC to respond compassionately and generously to the HIV/AIDS crisis around the world. Given the unimaginable devastation caused by this crisis, I agreed in a heartbeat.
Is it fair to the other agencies and ministries for me to do this? No. Could it make me less than objective? Yes. Yet, there’s evil in this world that is so overwhelmingly massive, so cruelly malignant, and so deeply hostile to Christ’s Lordship, that I believe I must willingly risk getting off of my editorial high horse.
It’s humbling to do that. And I hope you won’t catch me climbing off that horse only to unfairly ride this particular hobbyhorse. Now that you know my bias, keep an eye on me and hold me accountable for that.
I know my editorial council, my boss, and my fellow Banner workers will keep me honest. I’ll certainly do my best to behave myself. But watch your (church) mailbox in the coming weeks. I promise to be anything but unbiased there. Some stuff we just have no right to be coolly objective about.