Editor must be accountable

Brittany Packnett

At certain moments, you just can’t afford to mince words. So, if no one else is willing, I’ll say it: Alex Fak’s attack on organized religion and the rituals that accompany it was a purely cynical, uninformed, and under-researched piece of journalism. The column entitled “Touching God and no one else” concerned me not because of Fak’s opinions, but because he obviously had not duly considered his audience. We are an intelligent, observant group of people, and Fak challenged that intelligence by serving us a poorly constructed and factually inaccurate piece. We rightfully hold ourselves and each other to high standards, and as readers and supporters of Student Life, we are entitled to better work from our opinion editors.

This is not the first time such misinformation has appeared in an opinion column. Alex Fak’s columns on the inner workings of the Association of Black Students and the club’s supposed stance on interracial dating were equally unapprised. Any writer who decides they are qualified to hold any staff position and assume an official title should be held accountable for what they print.

Fak’s column focuses on what he deems as counterfeit religious justifications for many practices. The first, and most central to the piece, is that of pre-marital abstinence. Fak asserts that Catholicism’s original reasoning behind teaching pre-marital abstinence is that it, in association with the prohibition on divorce, was “designed to make women more equal to men.” This may be historical fact, but the original reason for the adoption of this doctrine is purely scriptural, as you will see if you consult both 1 Corinthians 7:4 and 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, and not reasoning of gender equity under the law. Fak also comments, “…not having sex may be the price worth paying for…salvation down the road.” To claim that sexual purity alone will get you through the pearly gates and anything less will subject you to fire and brimstone is simply false. It is clear, at least in the principles of Christianity Fak assaults, that salvation is not dependent upon one’s sexual history, but upon the total acceptance of Christ and His message.

As well, Fak calls God a hypocrite, citing the forbiddance of all “idols…except his son Christ.” I do not disagree with the assertion that some treat Christ as an idol-like figure, just as some treat the Pope and our pastors and evangelists as idols, but do not be mistaken: Christ was not created as an idol. “The high priest asked him, ‘Are you Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’ ‘I am,’ said Jesus.” (Mark 14:61-62). To call God a hypocrite because some believers make the mistake of treating Christ like an idol deflects from the truth, as Christ is the Son of God. If you claim you are writing to fully explore the justification for religious practices, give a glance to the sacred books of these religions before making unfounded statements.

Fak mocks other religious rituals also in use today. “Some of the rituals of which He apparently approves involve going hungry until nightfall. Others are just bizarre,” Fak continues, “such as the Tourette Syndrome-like swaying and echolalia by which sects of some religions have to pray.” I am insulted that you would belittle entire religious institutions and their members simply because you are not familiar or understanding of their practices. To swing so low as to call the cultural and religious rituals of entire peoples “bizarre” and “Tourette Syndrome-like” is not responsible journalism. And nothing less than responsible journalism should be accepted from a senior editor of Washington University’s paper.

No one is questioning your right to your opinion, Mr. Fak. Being curious and sometimes cynical is healthy. However, when this cynicism causes you, a Student Life opinion editor, to act so cruelly as to sling insults because you don’t care to understand culture or religions that are not your own, it is irresponsible. When this curiosity ceases to be reason for you to perform comprehensive research before you publish, you have undermined the title that appears next to your name. This all may seem too harsh for some, but if we do not hold our editors accountable for their published words, who will? As the general body, as loyal readers of Student Life, and as steadfast supporters of student journalism and opinion, it is our right and our responsibility.

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