When religion reporters cover politics

chaput jpbRemember that 2004 pre-election coverage when political reporters were trying to parse theological statements made by Roman Catholic archbishops? Some reporters had trouble understanding how Catholic leaders had the audacity to discuss whether pro-choice Catholic candidates were violating church teachings. And everyone obsessed about the abortion issue at the expense of other issues Catholic leaders care about. Part of the problem might have been the use of political reporters to discuss a fundamentally theological issue.

The Denver Post solves the problem — and reaps rewards — by having religion reporter Eric Gorski look at church teachings on various political issues facing Colorado voters.

Turns out that both the Republican and Democratic candidates for Colorado Governor are Catholic. And both, to varying degrees, state their opposition to abortion. Gorski digs into that and other issues on which the church takes positions. Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput (pictured) declined to critique either candidate, but Gorski got some good info out of him:

The state’s three bishops came out Monday in support of an amendment to raise Colorado’s minimum wage. And over the weekend, a letter was read at Masses supporting the marriage amendment and opposing a domestic partnerships measure.

On the governor’s race, Chaput said he is pleased by some things he hears and worried about others, but wouldn’t elaborate. He said it’s “important that people who claim to be Catholic be Catholic on all issues, not just some of them.”

However, he said abortion is foundational because “it deals with the basic human right, the right to life.” On other issues, such as illegal immigration, Catholics can disagree, he said.

“All people are supposed to have a respect for the immigrants and their dignity and a commitment to the common good,” Chaput said. “But working that out with policy, there’s some flexibility.”

I love how Gorski fleshes out Chaput’s full positions rather than snipping off words or quoting him out of context. Gorski also uses a chart to tell the rest of the story, comparing the two candidates’ positions against those of the Colorado Catholic bishops. He looks at an amendment that would raise the minimum wage in Colorado, as well as an amendment that would define marriage as between one man and one woman.

Gorski doesn’t limit the article to abortion positions, but neither does he de-emphasize its importance for Chaput and Catholic voters. Another nice and helpful piece.

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  • John

    Unless we click through to the Denver Post link, we miss out on the first reference to Archbishop Charles Chaput.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Thank you, John! I fixed it.

  • http://www.geocities.com/hohjohn John L. Hoh, Jr.

    Maybe Get Religion should issue an award for those reporters who DO get religion! Maybe call it “Martin’s Golden Hammer?”