Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ignorant journalists and evangelical voters: Fast forward to US election year 2008

Marvin Olasky, journalism prof and World's chief editor complains once again on the endemic problem of journalists who do not seem to think that they need to know anything at all about religion - which would NOT be a problem if they also didn't report religion-related news. But they Do, you see, and so ...
As voters ask questions about religion, some journalists are challenging records for theological illiteracy. For example, on Nov. 29, Chris Matthews complained that a YouTube questioner asked GOP presidential candidates about their views of the Bible: "If there was a Jewish fellow up here, an Arab fellow up here, a nonbeliever, he'd have to say, 'I don't believe in the Bible.'"
Way to go, Chris: Three errors in one sentence. Jewish believers would not say that: They trust the Old Testament, which makes up three-fourths of the Bible. Some Arabs are Christians, believing in all of the Bible. Arab Muslims also believe in the Bible, when the Quran does not contradict it.

I've heard this story a few times now, and expect to hear it a few times more. One reason many journalists do not bother to inform themselves about religion is that for many decades pundits said it would, like, disappear. Nothing of the kind happened, of course.

As we note in The Spiritual Brain, the pundits who propounded that view were looking at the dwindling membership of mainstream Christian denominations. They assumed that the ex-members were becoming secularists. Many were, no doubt, but others were turning up at storefront churches in the inner city and megachurches in the burbs, as well as various New Age folds, Islam, or Zen.

The pundits and those journalists who heed them are just not keeping up with the story. The last pastor I had coffee with, Bruxy Cavey, dresses like a bicycle courier, not like a funeral director. And his innovative churches are thriving. He gave me a copy of his book, The End of Religion - but despite the title, he's no Richard Dawkins, let me tell you. He means the end of the kind of religion that has emptied pews all over town, not the end of Christianity. He is quite confident about the latter.

From the back cover of his book: "Sick of religion? So was Jesus."

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