Just Launched: Spiritual Truth in an Age of Fake News with Elizabeth Geitz and Rebecca Cotton

We just launched Spiritual Truth in an Age of Fake News with Elizabeth Geitz and Rebecca Cotton For Individuals and For Groups.

The term “fake news” tends to convey different meanings in different contexts. People use it to refer to anything from parody news accounts to half-true “facts” spread on social media to legitimate news that politicians or pundits want to spin as false. It can be hard to identify misinformation because it is designed both to appeal to us and to resemble real news. The more misinformation that appears, the harder it is for people to trust any news sources. It doesn’t help that legitimate news is often presented in ways designed to appeal to emotion so that people will click and subscribe. The constantly-changing ways we consume media can be hard to keep up with, also benefiting scammers.

Reporters with various forms of “fake news” from an 1894 illustration by Frederick Burr Opper.

It is, perhaps, unsurprising that many people are aware that they can’t trust the information they encounter but aren’t sure how to navigate the news media landscape. As a default, people tend to consume the news we want to believe, which leaves the community both ill-informed and set against one another. We retreat into echo chambers, respond skeptically to news that doesn’t suit our narratives, and, increasingly, find ourselves divided from people with whom we disagree. Worst of all, from a Christian point of view, is the spread of biblical misinformation designed to support our biases.

In this class, renowned author Elizabeth Geitz and Rebecca Cotton from the Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations offer their help in clearing the weeds. They explain what misinformation looks like, why it confuses people, and ways to combat it. They discuss the effects of misinformation on our culture and the reasons that Christians in particular must resist fake news. They also talk about how the misuse of news information, and in particular misinformation about the Bible, has been used for centuries to support cultural inequities. They suggest ways and reasons to resist biblical fake news.

This course is ideal for those seeking tools for discerning truth. For a preview of the course, please click the video below.

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