Attack on Journalism & Freedom of Speech

Editor's Note: Jon & Jolene Hamill are the founders of Lamplighter Ministries and trusted generals with the Reformation Prayer Network. Visit their website for regular prophetic insight for the nation.

On January 7, twelve people—including eight journalists—were left dead as Islamist assassins stormed the newsroom of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine in Paris, because of previously published cartoon depictions of Muhammad. According to French President Francois Hollande, other attacks had been thwarted just within the past few days; two days later, another attack took place when an Islamist gunman killed four Jewish men and took hostages.

The eyes of the world have been glued to Paris as protest marches take place and world leaders speak out.

The slain at the magazine offices of Charlie Hebdo include many political cartoonists considered to be the finest in France. They sought to highlight important issue in our world—not through guns and violence, but through the weapons of irony and humor. Our prayers are with their families.

Paris Highlighted at Beginning of Year

At the beginning of the year, as I was preparing graphics for a prayer initiative we are doing through our ministry, Lamplighters, the Lord highlighted Paris, France to me. As we regularly pray over the United States, incorporating images of the White House, Capitol and Supreme Court into the graphics as representations of our three branches of government seemed obvious enough. But I also felt I should include the Eiffel Tower.

I did not know then that the Eiffel Tower would represent the “fourth estate” of journalism, of free speech. And it is now very clearly under attack.

“I Can’t Speak!”

Ferguson brought the world, “Hands up, don’t shoot.” And now every police officer and citizen in the nation has become more cognizant of the need to preserve both justice and life.

New York City brought us, “I can’t breathe.”

And now Paris is bringing another justice declaration: “I can’t speak.”

May the nation and world become as indignant and intolerant of this injustice as all others—because without freedom of speech, authoritarianism would prevail, and no other injustice would even be reported.

Journalism Under Attack

In a recent interview, Mideast expert Walid Phares addressed this attack. “Look, not just France, I think the free world now has seen what is ahead of us because we have been so late in fighting terrorism,” observed Phares, “because we have been letting down our guards, not just in France but even here.”

According to the professor, “Because we have not actually addressed the ideology and radicalization, what we have now within our own societies are not maybe dozens but hundreds of individuals who are determined to attack our free press.”

“This is very serious,” Phares observed. “It’s not about Charlie Hebdo (magazine), It’s about every media in the west that dares to challenge the ideology of the jihadists.”

Journalists and Prophets

In August, ISIS stunned the world with the beheading of journalist James Foley and educated the world on just how serious this war against journalists and journalism really is.

The symbolism of this beheading must be noted. Remember the world’s most famous beheading, when John the Baptist was slaughtered after speaking against the abuse of power in Herod’s regime?

In truth, authentic journalists are very much like prophets. Their quest for truth brings them before kings, power brokers and the homeless. They see what few others see, either because of the special access granted them or because of the willful ignorance of people who refuse to see what is unfolding around them. They may seek to expose, to hold people and governments accountable for their actions. But mostly they seek simply to enlighten.

After the American Revolution, many of the efforts of our founding fathers went towards preventing our government from devolving into the type of totalitarian dictatorship from which they had gained their freedom. The abuse of power had to be countered. The balance of power had to be retained.

Therefore, two societal forces were immediately protected: freedom of religion and freedom of the press. At its core, freedom of religion should always result in a prophetic voice of conscience and compassion to society. Freedom of the press should confront and expose the abuse of power, holding leaders accountable to “We the People.”

Please note that the religion protected by our founders encompassed the Judeo-Christian worldview, with ethics centered in the Ten Commandments.

Bribing journalists is akin to bribing and corrupting the prophets. And silencing the journalists is akin to silencing the prophets.

Attacks from Within

The stinging slaughter of journalists only serves to show how priceless the value of free speech really is. Honestly, journalists have not only been under attack from without—by jihadists, etc—but from within.

When political leaders seek to censor stories, when the names of protected sources are confiscated by government authorities, when the careers of journalists are threatened by these leaders for running stories that expose the truth, freedom of the press is under attack.

As a former journalist myself, what is stunning to me is the seeming ambivalence by so many Christians towards “the fourth estate,” yet the very exposure of corruption we so often seek is within their grasp. Friends, journalists truly need your intercession.

Next time you are reading or watching your preferred news source, take time to pray for the correspondents bringing you the stories. Please consider adopting a journalist in prayer!

2015: The Rise of Prophetic Journalism

Let me shift roles briefly here from journalist to prophetic voice. Just as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were sent by God to cover the first coming of Jesus Christ, so God is equipping and sending journalists to cover the events surrounding His Second Coming. I prophesy to you that this year begins an acceleration of prophetic journalism, where the hand and heart of God will both lead journalists and reach the masses through journalists!

Many will have a sudden “flash,” a knowing about the truth of a situation and how to uncover it. Against all odds, many will simply be at the right place at the right time to witness and capture events of extraordinary importance. Many who have become jaded and without hope will have their lives and careers re-energized by a fresh encounter with Truth.

I prophesy, many journalists will see—or at least perceive—Jesus Christ in their respective journeys. They will literally become born again. And so will their capacities, with a few upgrades!

And for you who are struggling to make sense of these merciless attacks, know at least they are not senseless; they are strategic. Because eyes that see and ears that hear constitute Freedom’s greatest protectors under God.

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