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Oprah editorial gets Enquirer spotlight

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP)–The National Enquirer took an editorial potshot at Florida Baptist Witness executive editor James A. Smith Sr. in their April 7 edition — and Smith couldn’t be more pleased.

Under a headline that declared, “Baptist leader condemns Oprah,” National Enquirer writer Alexander Hitchen drew readers’ attention to what he called a “bizarre warning from a leading Baptist authority who says the talk-show host’s support for some New Age teachings is leading Christians astray.”

The bulk of Hitchens’ article was then devoted to quotes from Smith’s March 6 editorial, including an observation that “far too many Christians — including many who would consider themselves conservative, Bible-believing evangelicals — are more likely to take their theological cues from Oprah than they are from their faithful pastors.”

The supermarket tabloid’s weekly circulation of 1.05 million is down 28.5 percent from the fall 2004 level of 1.47 million advertised in its media kit, but it is still more than 26 times the Witness’ circulation of 39,911. Smith thinks that is great exposure for his publication.

“Since I suspect National Enquirer readers are a prime demographic for Oprah, I couldn’t be more delighted by the attention that publication chose to give my editorial,” Smith told Baptist Press. “I pray that the coverage may cause a few readers to carefully evaluate Oprah’s theology — and their own eternal destiny.”

The Enquirer’s page-51 headline is a little confused theologically in asserting that Smith condemned Oprah, the Witness editor noted.

“Oprah stands condemned by her own decision to embrace a false gospel,” Smith said. “Yet God’s grace can rescue her, and all true followers of Christ should pray to that end.”

Smith’s editorial focused on an e-mail circulating on the Internet that warns Christians about Winfrey’s promotion of a New Age teaching called “A Course in Miracles.” Smith noted the popular talk show host’s stated belief that “there couldn’t possibly be one way” to God and detailed the unbiblical teachings of ACIM, which was popularized by Winfrey’s promotion of New Age guru Marianne Williamson’s book, “A Return to Love.”

Noting that “A Course in Miracles” dismisses guilt as “solely an invention of your mind,” Smith encouraged Christians to “pattern their lives after those of the Bereans who ‘received the Word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether’ what they were being taught was true (Acts 17:11).”

The full text of Smith’s editorial is here.
Mark Kelly is an assistant editor for Baptist Press.

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