This is where World Opinions seeks to situate itself: precisely in that Protestant commentary market gap where incisive cultural analysis and neighborly love intersect, and the cultural falsehoods that lead our neighbors astray are clearly exposed for what they are. This is certainly my own goal as a contributor. It is precisely because not all Christians have the disposition or the calling to be culture warriors that wise volunteers are so needed. This is necessary work, and further, it is work that can be undertaken “objectively”—not because there is a Bible verse for everything, but because God has revealed himself by the light of nature as well as Scripture.
Evangelical magazine news rarely draws mainstream attention. Last year’s New York Times coverage of the split between Marvin Olasky and World was a notable exception. It was a well-worn narrative: The magazine had been “conquered by Trump.” The launch of World Opinions, a new section on the magazine’s website, by co-editors Nick Eicher and R. Albert Mohler was ostensibly a manifestation of this hard right turn.
As usual, the facts are more complicated than the story suggests. Senior reporter Sophia Lee resigned in Olasky’s wake, but she also contradicted the Times narrative on her way out, tweeting that despite the “terrible” headline, World magazine “had not gone MAGA.” It was further confirmed at the time that funds were not being diverted to the opinions page from the magazine’s straight reportage arm, which Olasky was deeply concerned to preserve.
Nevertheless, in a new retrospective essay, Olasky maintains that the past year has borne out his concerns. He laments the shift in priorities between the “old World” and the new “Culture-War World.” Where old World covered scandal around a figure like Madison Cawthorn, new World hasn’t touched his latest shenanigans. Where old World toed an establishment line on the pandemic, new World has run stories that Olasky frames as playing to evangelicals’ “anti-vaccine prejudice.” And stylistically, where old World prided itself on “understated prose,” new World columns “toss hand grenades” at the left. Old World was “conservative on some issues,” but it also covered topics such as homelessness and poverty, which Olasky implies would be intrinsically out of place in “Conservative World.” Given that Olasky himself writes compellingly on homelessness for the Discovery Institute—the conservative think tank where anti-CRT activist Christopher Rufo first got his start documenting the gamut of homelessness and poverty issues—it’s not clear why he thinks this.
But the whole conceit of an op-ed page contradicts Olasky’s framework for “biblically objective journalism.” He defers to the Bible as the only “objective” source on matters it directly addresses. But on those topics the Bible does not directly address, he believes any human opinion is automatically “subjective.” Hence, he concludes that op-eds in these spheres are not the purview of Christian journalism.
Of course, the Bible doesn’t directly address a plethora of topics, including economics, immigration, gun control, contemporary American race relations, and pandemic protocol.