Adventist Church View on Media Freedom
From the beginning, the Seventh-day Adventist church has been heavily grounded on the foundation of its publishing work. Among the various Adventist institutions, the first to be established was the Review and Herald publishing office in 1865 at Battle Creek. From this beginning the publishing work spreads on both national and international levels.
Adventists have put stress on media ministries, and have excelled in certain aspects here. For example, in 1997, Adventist World Radio, broadcasting in 46 different languages, surpassed the language count of both the Voice of America and the British Broadcasting Cooperation.112
E. G. White also supported medias ministries, as they are great educational agencies. By these means we can greatly enlarge our knowledge of world events and enjoy hearing important speeches, and discussions, and listening to music.113
The position of the Adventist Church is to support media-based endeavours, on the ground of an evangelistic or ministry purpose. Medias helped spreading the gospel. However, Adventists and others run into trouble since expression by means of broadcasting media is restricted in autocratic countries. In-spite of the advance of Adventist media ministries, during the world wars, the Adventist publishing houses in Germany and Japan were confiscated, as the authorities were afraid of spreading antigovernment propaganda. The Adventist publishing work in Germany was shut down in 1940, because the government refused to allocate paper for nonessential
religious publishing.114 Similarly, the Japanese military government took over the Adventist publishing house there and sold seven wagonloads of warehoused books as scrap paper.115
In Myanmar, especially young people’s freedom of expression is restricted. They are not allowed to preach, nor to gather for worship or evangelical purposes. They are even cautioned to avoid church attendance, especially in those ethnics minority regions as existed in border areas. According to UN sources, the situation in Burma is deteriorating dramatically. The UN Special Rapporteur on Burma reported in 1997 that, “there is essentially no freedom of thought, opinion, expression or association in Myanmar.”116
Calvin argued that a just government is one that knows its true ends, “opens itself to outside criticism as to how it might best pursue them, and then pursues them with diligence and determination.”117 Freedom of expression, including media free of excessive control, is part of a democratic system. It is related to the present day democracy and human rights standards. And it is the essential of freedom of expression and freedom of media for a good government.