Ad­ven­tist Church View on Media Free­dom

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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.

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