Joel Belz: Taxpayer-funded indoctrination

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Wednesday, November 6th. Thanks for listening to The World and Everything in It. Good morning! I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. WORLD founder Joel Belz is going to tell us about a time he remembers when National Public Radio asked for prayers!

JOEL BELZ, FOUNDER: “Thanks very much,” said the impassioned radio announcer just as I tuned in at the end of her plea, “for your calls, for your concern, and for your prayers.”

For your prayers?

Even though this happened some 25 years ago, it was a little much. I checked my radio dial to see what might be out of adjustment. This was no radio evangelist I was listening to. This was the local outlet for National Public Radio, thanking me for my prayers. 

As a matter of fact, I hadn’t prayed anytime that morning for NPR—or any morning before. Nor did I have any intentions of adding NPR to my prayer list in the future. Do I say that with a tad of embarrassment? Perhaps.

Let’s give them their due. In some ways, NPR is radio broadcasting at its best. The NPR folks know how to tell a compelling story for the ear.

Here at WORLD, we’ve been frank imitators of NPR’s professional and technical skills as we’ve developed this program—and you’ve given us all kinds of kudos for doing it.

But there are two big reasons I don’t want NPR to prosper.

The first is that it’s simply not an appropriate role for an arm of government to be a major news reporter. Of course, NPR argues that it is independent and gets less than 1 percent of its funding from federal grants. But NPR’s member stations across the country get about 12 percent of their operating funds from federal and local government subsidies. 

No one can credibly argue that has no effect on NPR’s coverage decisions.

Regardless of the amount, the bigger issue is whether any money is spent at all. If there is one thing government should not be doing with the money of its citizens, it is trying to influence how those citizens think.

On dozens of other issues, there may be room to disagree. But the wrongness of government indoctrination isn’t one of them. My father used to say he’d far rather have the government feed, clothe, and house his children than to have that same government shape their minds.

But I said there are two reasons I don’t want NPR to prosper. The other reason is that the values NPR regularly promotes are—overall—tilted so heav­ily against the value system of the Bible. 

Oh, it thinks it’s objective. But as we’ve pointed out here repeatedly, there’s no such thing as real objectivity apart from the Bible.

NPR is most misleading when it acts as if it does not have a starting point. The whole task of selecting, ordering, and scheduling each day’s stories is an exercise in indoctrination.

NPR is free to do as it wants—but not at our expense.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Joel Belz.

Creative Commons/Todd Huffman

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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