Justin Bieber just outed the Satanists and pedophiles in Hollywood.
According to an article from NewsPunch.com, Bieber told a Bible study group that during a music industry party, he was “encouraged to sexually abuse a young child who had been brought to the party for the sexual gratification of the industry elite.”
To add angst to the article, writer Baxter Dmitry added the following:
“I didn’t want to do this. I really didn’t. They said this kid was drugged, it was horrible,” Bieber said, explaining that it was made clear to him that he would gain entry to the “business side of the industry” if he “joined the club” by passing the initiation rites.
According to Baxter, other performers, such as Jay-Z, have participated in similar rituals. However, Bieber would have nothing to do with it, as evidenced by another quote Baxter attributed to the young performer.
“They said this kid was raped by a few different guys. They said he was bleeding. I got out of there but I heard he died and that haunts me.”
A few fact-checking websites trounced the story. No one from Bieber’s camp responded to the article’s claims, and given the outrageousness of the alleged news, it’s fair to say no publicist would dignify such allegations with a response.
At best, the story is a lie orchestrated to cash in on advertising dollars generated from website visits, or grow influence through social media likes and shares. At worse, it’s malicious fabrication that’s designed for character assassinations of those involved (or implied) in the stories.
Consider the source. And the repercussions.
News Punch, also known as YourNewsWire, is a media outlet that has a reputation for clickbait, fake news, conspiracy theories, sensationalism and sloppy sourcing.
Lending to this reputation, its writer Baxter Dmitry has been discredited for his “PizzaGate” stories, a conspiracy theory that alleged Hillary Clinton and other government elites ran a pedophile ring out of a Washington, D.C. pizza restaurant. His writing led to a PizzaGate believer firing an AR-15 rifle into the family restaurant; the shooter claimed he was attempting to find and rescue child sex slaves that he believed were being held in the restaurant’s basement, which contrary to conspiracy theorists’ beliefs, neither the basement nor the pedophile ring existed.
But none of that stopped an alarming number of Christians and conspiracy theorists from enthusiastically sharing the Bieber story and adding their own commentaries about rampant Satanic child abuse in Hollywood and other influential cities.
As demonstrated by the gunman’s assault on a family pizzeria, the promotion of this kind of sensationalistic (and fake) content puts innocent people at risk. For Christians who spread this irresponsible journalism, hearsay and rumor, the actions can destroy credibility and trust with the very people who could benefit from Christ’s message.
This promotion and fervent defense of this and other similar stories also hurts real victims of pedophilia and other abuses. It dilutes the pain and suffering of their cases when people reserve their ultimate horror-struck indignation for spurious allegations of despicable abuse. Outrage – and attention – over pedophile grooming, molestation and rape are diminished when people focus heavily on the sensationalistic and unsubstantiated “raped and killed in Satanic ritual” cases.
Pedophilia is a real problem in Hollywood and other places where predators have easy access to children. Entertainers such as Elijah Wood have publicly discussed the sexual abuse of child stars, but he emphasizes that his comments have not been based on personal experience. According to Esquire magazine, former child star Corey Feldman said that he and the late Corey Haim were passed around “back and forth” among pedophiles who acted as gatekeepers to their careers.
As horrific as their stories were, neither actors’ testimony ever veered into gang rapes or Satanic rituals.
When Satanic ritual was news
The original Satanic panic began in the 1980s and lasted through much of the 1990s. According to the Dallas Morning News, the time was marked by “…a tidal wave of bizarre accusations that a secret network of day care owners and workers across the country engaged in “Satanic ritual abuse” of young children in their care.”
During the panic’s heyday, social workers, police, attorneys and others used questioning techniques that encouraged children to invent and believe disturbing scenarios. The techniques have since been widely condemned by mental health and human services providers, but during one trial of a Texas couple, small children testified that their caregivers:
- Disemboweled babies
- Flew children to Mexico (and had them back to the daycare center by pick-up time) so they could be raped by soldiers
- Made them swim in a pool with live sharks
- Made them handle rotting corpses
There was no physical evidence to support any of the allegations, but astonishingly, Dan and Fran Keller spent 23 years in prison due to the accusations. The courts officially declared them innocent in 2017.
The Keller’s story was not an isolated case. There were hundreds of Satanic abuse accusations leveled at caregivers around the country – California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and other states.
The media fueled the fire with celebrities like Geraldo Rivera and Oprah Winfrey featuring exposes of Satanism on their shows. Mainstream news outlet ran special reports on what they considered a growing threat. Even HBO created a documentary on the topic.
However, Rivera, Winfrey and the accusers were misled and wrong.
The Department of Justice investigated, and in 1992, said the reports of widespread Satanic abuse were not credible. The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect debunked the claims in 1994. In time, courts overturned convictions of those wrongfully accused. The former “child victims”, now adults, recanted their stories.
What’s the Christian response to fake news?
First and foremost, there is no question that Satan is alive and well in today’s society and demons are real. None of that is to be dismissed or taken lightly.
There is also no question that people often feel powerless when confronted by our culture. Sadly, that feeling makes people hungry for any semblance of power and value they can find, and sensationalistic and fake news provides an infusion. People can cultivate a small element of authority when they know what others do not know, and they gain a perceived sense of clout when sharing that information with others – even when that information is wrong or misguided.
Many Christian influencers, especially those on social media, contribute to this trend by spreading stories such as the Bieber one or by adding sensationalistic anecdotes and hearsay about newborn sacrifices at hospitals, Oprah Winfrey endorsing face creams made from infants’ foreskins, Illuminati plots by entertainers such as Katy Perry, Jay-Z and Beyonce, and other claims.
It’s an understandable reaction, but it’s not the right thing to do.
People should be able to look to Christians as a source of truth, not a source of panic.
There are Biblical precedents for fact checking and truth. In Acts 17, the Bereans are lauded for their vetting of information.
Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
Perhaps Christian influencers, and Christians as a whole, need to apply Berean-like ethics to see if news is true BEFORE it is shared with others – especially on social media.
Find out if things are true. Exercise discernment.
It’s a foundational tenet of journalism – and Old Testament law – that a “fact” must be supported and verified by at least two sources. If verifiable facts and credible sources aren’t there, it is unethical, immoral and irresponsible for ANY media outlet (or Christian) to run such a story.
While many may argue that contemporary mainstream media no longer abide by that standard, that makes it all the more incumbent for alternative media and people of faith to follow and exceed that standard. Outlets such as YourNewsWire, World Net Daily, Info Wars and the Daily Mail aren’t doing that.
Consider the words of theologian and Christian apologist C.S. Lewis. In “Mere Christianity”, he wrote:
“Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out.
Is one’s first feeling, ‘Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,’ or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies are as bad as possible?
If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils.
You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black.
Finally we shall insist on seeing everything — God and our friends and ourselves included — as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred.”
There is evidence that many of the fake news and sensationalistic stories some Christians share and support “might not quite be true”. Nonetheless, many of these individuals double-down on their defense of these items simply because they reinforce their belief that certain people or entities are inherently evil; these stories help them find affirmation in believing these enemies are as bad as possible.
When we ascribe darkness and Satanic attribution to everything we see (or think we see), the devil doesn’t have to do much work himself.
We see everything a little bit blacker.
As Lewis feared, it will make us into devils.
Author note: I am a veteran journalism professional, who, incidentally, happens to be a Christian. Special thanks to my good friend Dave – a professor of theology and Scripture, ordained minister, former pastor and former journalism professional, too.