Why is News Station KTBS Endorsing Jesus?

It’s not uncommon for religious people to post Jesus-y messages on their Facebook wall, but last night, KTBS 3, a news station in Shreveport, Louisiana, posted this regarding the Casey Anthony verdict:

What?!

Why is an ABC affiliate endorsing Jesus?

Why is a news station still talking about the verdict?

Why did they feel the need to capitalize all the letters in GOD…?

It starts with a commentary by reporter Rick Rowe that aired Sunday night. You can watch it here. It’s all about how we, “as Christians,” must ask what Jesus would do in times like these.

Again… what?

Since when is everybody a Christian? KTBS is a privately-owned ABC affiliate, but as far as I can tell, it’s not a “Christian station.” At the very least, even if the station management allows subjective commentaries and the endorsement of Christianity in such pieces, why are opinions like that going up on the station’s Facebook page? Shouldn’t a news station remain neutral on issues like religion?

Meteorologist Joe Haynes eventually fessed up to posting the message, but it’s hardly an apology. In fact, he’s glad he did it.

When someone called him out on it, this is what he said:

(Again with the unnecessary capitalizing…?)

Haynes touted the station’s Christian bent later in the same thread, sticking it to the larger (read: more watched) news markets:

Yeah! Screw Dallas and Houston! They would never talk about JESUS! They’re too busy reporting the “news” and being “objective” and stuff…

Ok. Is this worth complaining about? Is this something the news station does regularly? Am I making a big deal out of nothing?

*Hemant looks at phone*

So I called the station. They called me back within a couple minutes of my leaving a message, which says a lot about them wanting to fix this situation.

News director Randy Bain told me the station doesn’t weigh in or give opinion on religious issues.

He said when Haynes made the posting, he likely posted based on his own emotions. It’s new media, Bain said, and it may take a little extra training for someone like Haynes to realize that his personal beliefs, posted on the station’s Facebook wall, could be misconstrued as a news organization weighing in on the matter.

Bain said he would talk to Joe to get his perspective on the issue, and he would have a conversation with him regarding what is and isn’t appropriate to post on the station’s social media outlets. Hopefully, this sort of thing won’t happen again.

That’s all I was asking for, so I appreciate the station acting so quickly to address the issue. A public apology would be even better…

In the meantime, you may want to keep an eye on that FB page for a day or two, just to be sure everything’s ok.

(Thanks to Morgan for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Kev Quondam, Kevque Futurum

    That was just dumb. Joe should’ve posted it to his own FB account, eesh. Thing like this could cost him his job. Pretty sure there are probably members of that station who are atheists and are as unhappy about it.

  • Sesoron

    To be fair, it is the cable channel ABC Family that airs Pat Robertson’s show. I, for one, don’t expect much out of ABC.

  • JD

    ABC Family’s contract requires them to air Pat Robertson’s show.

    In my opinion, people shouldn’t be using their station’s or company’s twitter or FB feeds to push their personal agendas to that degree when they’re supposed to be representing whoever is paying their wages.

  • http://www.banalleakage.com martymankins

    I don’t think anyone would have had an issue if Joe has posted that same message on his own personal Facebook account.

    Using a company sponsored account is worth complaining about.

  • http://spaninquis.wordpress.com/ Spanish Inquisitor

    I’m sure it was something innocent.

    GOD is a delivery service, like UPS. (Guaranteed Overnight Delivery). Jesus (pronounced “Hay-Zues”) is probably one of their drivers.

    He probably heard that her Hollywood agent had overnighted the contract on her ghost-written tell-all book, and she should be looking for the driver of the delivery truck.

  • Dennis N

    I don’t blame the station for Mr. Haynes ill-advised comments. It all comes down to how they handle it. Obviously, he should not be allowed to post under their name without supervision in the future.

    That being said, his comments are dripping with Christian privilege.

  • Darwin’s Dagger

    These stations are privately owned businesses that, although somewhat regulated by the FCC and other agencies, are free to express any opinions or thoughts that they like. It may damage their credibility, and that then becomes their problem, but they have every right to praise the lord if that is what they wish to do.

  • Annie

    I just looked and they are still talking about it. Someone wrote a comment stating she just wanted news, and the Jesus hounds jumped on her.

    Louisiana is a strange state. They talk about Jesus like he’s the guy who runs the corner shop. I was there a few weeks ago and overheard things like, “Well, I talked to Jesus about it…”, and a mom to her young, unruly child, “I hope Jesus didn’t see you do that!”

    Jesus.

  • Marguerite

    I agree with the above comments– this looks like a case of one employee using his company’s platform to promote his own personal viewpoint, which is never appropriate, particularly in the case of a news station. I’m glad it was pointed out to the station, and that they’re addressing the problem.

  • Matto the Hun

    He said when Haynes made the posting, he likely posted based on his own emotions. It’s new media, Bain said

    BS. This would be different from Joe using the weather forecast, or use company e-mail, or letterhead to push his religion how?

    Joe is either a complete moron that this would suddenly cause him to be oh-so-confused, or Joe is another hypocritical, dishonest Christian who took advantage… or both.

    I’m glad he did it though. There’s people out there who are believers like I was who will see his dishonesty and hypocrisy. It will help drive them from religion and the idea that it has anything at all to do with making you a “good” person. After that, who knows, they may even dump God altogether.

  • http://www.bornagainyesterday.com Justin

    I’m in Tulsa, so my first reaction was, “Well, that’s Texas for ya.” Then I saw the station is actually in Louisiana and I thought, “When did Louisiana get the internet? Texas needs to lock their wifi.”

    JK…

    The interesting thing is your question, “Is this worth complaining about?” I’m always asking myself this.

    Why does the behavior of a TV station weatherman in another state matter? I feel like it does, but why? Where do we draw the line? (This isn’t rhetorical. I’m interested in opinions.)

  • Dennis N

    Why does the behavior of a TV station weatherman in another state matter?

    I don’t think it doesn, in and of itself, but that it is indicative of a more macro issue of our culture.

  • Amanda

    Wow. If you go through the Facebook page you can see comments on the wall about this very event. It never ceases to amaze me the comments that people make defending this ridiculous act by a “news” station.
    Sigh.
    If you want to feel smart today, go through some of the comments from Christians claiming that Jesus and God are “facts” that have every right to be a part of “news”
    Uh…..

  • Dustin

    Thanks to the staunchly Christian views of the rest of the community being voiced in the comments on that FB page, KTBS has felt led to continued to state their fundamental opinions:

    KTBS 3 News: The really neat thing in my opinion is…If it wasn’t for GOD creating us…We wouldn’t be having this conversation right now! I know this is a simple thought…But when it comes down to it…Just let GOD handle the judging and we ourselves get down to the job he gave us to love one another and him…and to help people in need! It’s so much easier this way! Joe
    11 hours ago · 25 people

    and

    KTBS 3 News AMEN!
    11 hours ago · 1 person

    I grew up in the area. It’s kind of embarrassing to watch the local news station continue to put out statements like this that show a complete disconnect from the rest of society and a complete lack of intelligence.

  • Estevan

    It’s privately owned. What else can be said. They have the right to act like idiots and their real audience will respond. Chances are thier audience are bible thumpers and don’t care.

  • Marguerite

    “It’s privately owned. What else can be said. They have the right to act like idiots and their real audience will respond.”

    True, but since they’re an ABC affiliate, I kind of doubt ABC would be happy about them “acting like idiots” (though how much power the network has over an affiliate, I have no idea). But in any event, they seem to be addressing the problem, which is fine. I do agree with Matto the Hun above, though– the idea that this guy messed up because it’s “new media” is silly. Clearly he thought he could get away with something, but he surely must know better than to trumpet his personal beliefs in the context of the workplace.

  • Claudia

    I think the whole situation is a great example of how a proportional response can lead to a desired outcome.

    Since it was a privately owned business and it was not directly denigrating nonbelievers, getting very worked up would be too much and unlikely to yield results. However a polite phone-call appears to have gotten you the response you wanted and alerted management to behavior they want to moderate. Sure a public apology (or better a public statement that the station does not take positions on religion) would be nice, but I would say it’s nonessential given the incident.

    More worriesome is the on-air “how we as Christians” can handle these things. That I’d like to hear more about, even as I recognize that as a private station, they have the legal right to do that.

  • SeekerLancer

    It’s a privately owned news station in Louisiana. I realize that doesn’t make it any less stupid but it makes it a lot less surprising and a lot less unlikely that this guy’s job is in any danger.

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    Nice work, Hemant.

  • Rich Wilson

    I often ruminate as to which of my minority statuses brings me the most grief. So in a random bit of crossover venting, I offer a reporter’s take on what’s wrong with bike lanes:

    A Second Avenue bike lane is next to the Israeli consulate, leaving many wondering what would happen if a man on a bike were a terrorist.

    http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/07/07/nyc-dot-installs-controversial-bike-lanes-on-high-traffic-first-second-avenues-in-manhattan/

    At least this guy was just putting comments on FB, not reporting ‘news’.

  • mthrnite

    Some Christians are so afraid of the conspiracy to “atheize” America, that they feel the need to seed Jesus into as many circumstances as they possibly can. It’s why the lady at the bank tells you to “have a blessed day”. When they do get a complaint, they respond by saying they were just being kind, is kindness next on the chopping block? etc… and then they become even more entrenched in fear of an atheist planet, and in the resolve to fix our ailing nation by talking about JESUS every chance they get. I’m betting that’s exactly what’s happening here.

  • runawayuniverse

    KTBS

    At least they picked the correct call sign

  • JESUS

    Whiny, persecuted-Christian-martyrdom-complex Facebook posting in 3…2…1…

  • Vanessa

    Thanks for calling them up and getting a clarification. Hopefully the station will do its best to keep something like this from happening again.

  • http://cincinatheist.blogspot.com cincinatheist

    Not surprised. As this past Sunday’s Doonesbury reminds us, Louisiana is also a state that endorses creation mythology as science in the classroom. Not shocked.

  • Chris aka “Happy Cat”

    Hemant, the rendering of Lord in caps is a biblical convention. It is used to replace the actual name YHWH (Tetragrammaton), to prevent Jews from pronouncing the “sacred” name of god. (Well, one of the names, anyway.) The caps are used to differentiate it from the generic title “Lord”.

    It’s amazing so few Christians know this and just assume “Lord” is all caps because God is like, you know, so awesome and stuff.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    @Chris aka “Happy cat”,

    Good point.

    This video also explains it. :)

  • http://estevancarlos.com estevan

    “True, but since they’re an ABC affiliate, I kind of doubt ABC would be happy about them “acting like idiots” (though how much power the network has over an affiliate, I have no idea). But in any event, they seem to be addressing the problem, which is fine. I do agree with Matto the Hun above, though– the idea that this guy messed up because it’s “new media” is silly. Clearly he thought he could get away with something, but he surely must know better than to trumpet his personal beliefs in the context of the workplace.”

    I really don’t believe ABC will be terribly concerned about what a newscaster said on their corresponding, affiliate, Facebook page. I do believe at this stage, there are very weak, inconsistent policies when it comes to dealing with “new media”. Companies are behind on this and will allow these details to be ignored. Plus, I suspect the ABC affiliate will just call it an unrelated editorial comment. The end. I don’t think we should persecute every expression of religious nonsense. We can snicker but we don’t always have to chastise.

  • Ben

    You know i agree news stations need to be objective, but i fell this is worth mentioning but its nothing even worth dwelling on.

  • Pureone

    I don’t know why they think God will punish Casey. Since most x-tians say everything happens for a reason and it’s all part of Gods plan, then we can say that God wanted that little girl to die and wanted Casey to be found not guilty.

  • Bryan Johnson

    mthrnite:

    Some Christians are so afraid of the conspiracy to “atheize” America, that they feel the need to seed Jesus into as many circumstances as they possibly can. It’s why the lady at the bank tells you to “have a blessed day”. When they do get a complaint, they respond by saying they were just being kind, is kindness next on the chopping block? etc… and then they become even more entrenched in fear of an atheist planet, and in the resolve to fix our ailing nation by talking about JESUS every chance they get. I’m betting that’s exactly what’s happening here.

    Judging by the 200 some comments on the original facebook post, I think you’re absolutely right. The overriding thing I gleaned from Christians on there was “If you don’t like it, go to another station. Unbelievers go crazy every time we mention GOD, but I’m not ashamed!”

    Totally missing the point…

  • Lee

    Hey, that’s my local news station. I am not surprised and that is the sort of thing they, and other local news stations affiliated with other companies like NBC and FOX, love to do. Once a commentator on the local NBC said ON THE AIR that gays are ruining America. It made national news and the commentator made a sarcastic passive-aggressive apology in response.

  • Bones

    Along with all the posts praising them for standing up for god and country(sheesh)was this little gem.

    “Manny Lipowitz
    When jesus decides to pay us a visit, you should mention that. Until then, you should do more stories about all the reasons people have to hate Jews.
    30 minutes ago”

    What is wrong with these people?

  • rdbhcx

    @Chris aka “Happy Cat”

    An alternative to Biblical convention is that they may be following the Pokémon convention of capitalizing all nouns important to the game.

  • Kerri

    This type of thing, coupled with the video of part of their “news” broadcast, makes every news story they do suspect. What a waste of airtime.

  • NotYou007

    This was just posted on their facebook page.

    MeLissa Moss Smith wow….pathetic….the friendly atheist…really…they dont seem so friendly to me! they seem like really bitter hateful people who try really hard to make Christians feel bad about our beliefs!
    7 minutes ago

    Reading the comments on their facebook page is very amusing.

  • Drew M.

    Matthew Howery and Shawnee Casteel, I totally heart you two.

  • http://nerdheroine.blogspot.com Brandy

    I live in Shreveport and I’d be surprised if there are more than a dozen people in a hundred miles who took exception to that comment. I’ve outed myself as an atheist three times in this area. Once at work where people actually quit talking to me because they didn’t believe an atheist could be a good person – despite the fact they’d known me over a year at this point. I’d been to their baby showers and weddings.

    Most people down here don’t believe an atheist exists. They literally have no frame of comprehension for it. Someone who doesn’t like Jesus must be out to destroy him – not just not care at all.

    We are, by and large, a special kind of crazy down in the swamps (not that there are many in these parts, but you get my drift).

  • http://xbowvsbuddha.blogspot.com Dr Rotwang!

    “New Media” my ASS. It’s your opinion, attributed to the station. That’s not a misunderstanding of new media; it’s a misunderstanding of LOGIC.

  • Kat

    I live in Shreveport and I’d be surprised if there are more than a dozen people in a hundred miles who took exception to that comment…Most people down here don’t believe an atheist exists.

    I live in Shreveport as well and I just wanted to say that there are definitely more than a dozen atheists. My family members are, most of my friends/classmates are, and all of my co-workers (that’s 12 by themselves) are. So yes, we’re out there in this otherwise typical bible-belt state.

  • http://fluffles.bigbighuge.com/ Flufflesthepancake

    Oh dear, the entire facebook page has been flooded with misinformed comments and idiocy. I’m sadly going to have to let them stew in their own ignorance as I do not wish to like the page.

  • unbeliever

    This is a good one (lifted from that FB page):
    “Sarah Dayler: We should put all the nonbelievers in a chamber and gas them to death.”
    and
    “Sarah Dayler: If you have a problem with my statement, take it up with God.

    “They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.”
    2 Chronicles 15:12-13

    The interesting thing is that even if this person is a poe, you can see the reasoning that people use taken straight from a bible quote.

  • http://honesttogodless.blogspot.com Matt Foss

    Pick your battles, guys. It’s a privately owned news station, and if the management wants to allow employees to post their personal opinions in the station’s name then so be it.

  • Jessica

    Wow. That’s my local station. I spent an hour trying to explain people on that FB page that objectivity is kind of important to Journalism. They disagreed. The South blows. Someone please beam me up?

  • Matthew Howery

    “Matthew Howery and Shawnee Casteel, I totally heart you two.”

    I heart you, too. I felt I had to say something to those people. There were a couple of ones trying to defend themselves against the onslaught. As a veteran, who very much loves his country, I can’t stand idly by and let that ignorance go unchallenged.

  • Linda

    You are making a mountain out of a molehill, and this should be your theme song for this blog, enjoy the song….

    http://youtu.be/E0tc2D9ehnk

  • atheadam

    This is news?

    I’m from Alabama, and the tv news there ALWAYS has an openly christian agenda. Honestly, I can’t even watch the local news when I’m back home without getting annoyed by the amount of jesus and god talk.

  • FreedomForReligion

    ABC is not a government agency. If they want to talk about Jesus they can.

    What this illustrates is the atheists don’t really want just Separation of Church and State but ELIMINATION of the Church from the state.

    Atheists in power have tried that before.

    But this time we will be ready.

  • Drew M.

    Yes, Linda, because a few minutes spent refuting or complaining about the utter and total ignorance of bible thumping buffoons is indicative of having too much spare time.

    Here’s your theme song:
    http://youtu.be/Ll4N_pvoSXI

  • Drew M.

    @Matthew Howery:

    I gave in and had to comment myself. The guy who cited changed relationships and cured addictions as “evidence” was beyond the pale (Darrel Strahan).

    He didn’t respond to my direct refutation. Big surprise there.

  • moosedapoop

    Well, now we know one more reason Chicago and it’s de-educated masses, are such a damn, immoral, perverted, screwed up mess.
    What I have to wonder is, why do you hate some ONE you don’t even believe in in the first place? As the sodomites always tell us, if you don’t like reading, seeing, hearing this stuff, THEN DON’T WATCH IT!
    HOPEFULLY, somehow, when we TAKE OUR NATION BACK, people like you will be run out of their positions before they DESTROY any more Children’s lives.
     


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X