Is GetReligion a ‘Christian’ blog?

Cb RedSeaThe iMacs on my desks at home and work share many things in common, including an overflowing (digitally speaking) email folder called “GetRel guilt.”

This file is full of really good, really bad or really interesting religion-news stories that I really, really wanted to write about on this weblog. However, something bad happened along the way and things just kind of slid until the topic was simply too old. Most of the time, the topic of the story is so important that I am simply too intimidated to write about it without pouring several hours of careful writing into the post. There are many times when — with my full-time academic job, starting a new program in which I am the director and lead lecturer — I just don’t have the time. Oh, and I write the “On Religion” column for Scripps Howard as well.

Thus, several times a week, I drag another couple of stories over to the “GetRel guilt” file, because my co-workers — working journalists, all — are too busy to write about them either. I imagine that they have their own guilt files.

Meanwhile, the waterfall of news roars on. And, in the midst of this, readers are constantly submitting links to stories from newspapers, magazines, wire services and networks that they want us to cover on the blog. Most of these tips are really good and we appreciate them very much, especially those from newspapers in cities and lands far from the oceans of ink poured out on the east and west coasts. There is no way that we can read even a tenth of the news that we would like to read. Television news is another major gap.

My guess is that we get about 10 to 15 of these news tips during a typical weekday, when traffic on the site is heaviest. Add that to the dozen or so items that the GetReligionistas share with each other day after day, as we try to figure out what we have the time or the smarts to write about on any given day while we do our various jobs.

So a week or so ago, a reader sent in the URL for a New York Times piece by Michael Slackman that ran with the headline “Did the Red Sea Part? No Evidence, Archaeologists Say.” It focused on a tour of digs that Dr. Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s chief archaeologist, provided for a pack of journalists. This media event

… prompted a reporter to ask about the Exodus, and if the new evidence was linked in any way to the story of Passover. The archaeological discoveries roughly coincided with the timing of the Israelites’ biblical flight from Egypt and the 40 years of wandering the desert in search of the Promised Land.

“Really, it’s a myth,” Dr. Hawass said of the story of the Exodus, as he stood at the foot of a wall built during what is called the New Kingdom.

Thus, our reader commented:

… (P)lease understand that I am not necessarily saying THERE IS compelling physical evidence of the Exodus. I have my own questions about Biblical “history.” I am only commenting on the quality of this story and the major play it received in the NY Times, “the paper of record.”

I believe this story deserves comment on several levels:

(a) It’s a standard “where’s the beef?” story that pops up around every major “historically based” religious celebration — Jewish, Christian or whatever (well, maybe not all of them). This particular story line has been done for years in connection with Passover, which leads one to wonder why the Times bothered to redo it.

(b) The only source quoted touting the no-evidence line is an Egyptian, apparently a government official (no academic connection is mentioned so how else do you get to be Egypt’s chief anything?), which makes him suspect in this context, given Israel’s conflict with Egypt (despite the peace treaty) and the Arab history of seeking to deny any Jewish historical connection to the Holy Land for religious/political reasons.

(c) The counter voice by another Egyptian is deeply buried at the story’s very end.

(d) This piece talks only about one possible route into Sinai. There has been speculation about several possible routes.

(e) The writer fails to note that no proof it happened differs from proof that it did not happen.

Excellent points, all the way around. I remember thinking that I wish I could run this as an item on GetReligion, in large part because this particular reader is a religion-writing pro named Ira Rifkin. If you don’t know that byline, Rifkin is best known as the former national correspondent for Religion News Service, founding news producer for Beliefnet.com and Washington correspondent for The Jerusalem Report magazine. His most recent book is Spiritual Perspectives on Globalization: Making Sense of Economic and Cultural Upheaval and you can read his work in lots of other places, as well.

But I didn’t get to that article and my co-workers didn’t, either.

tenCommandmentsAs you can tell, I didn’t throw it away. It was, however, almost certainly headed to the GetRel guilt file.

A few days later, another note showed up from Rifkin. It was blunt and it stung, in large parts because I agreed with much of it. It certainly needed to be taken seriously. Here is a shortened version:

The creators of any publication, online or dead wood, have the right to decide subject matter and perspective. Readers who differ can go elsewhere or start their own publication. So it is with some hesitancy that I write the following.

I’m a veteran religion journalist who reads GetReligion with some regularity because I agree with the blog’s basic premise — which is that one cannot understand human actions and world events without first understanding religious motivations, and that the popular media too often fails in its responsibility when it comes to covering religion. This is particularly so when the religious are traditional in nature. …

Reading the blog’s “Why We’re Here” page I am led to believe that critiquing popular journalism’s coverage of religion is the blog’s raison d’etre. There is no mention of a desire to spur insider wrangling over Christian theology, criticism of liberal Christian thinking or to evangelize from a traditional perspective. Also not mentioned is any desire to in any way limit the blog to Christian issues, even though most American media religion coverage is — and rightly so from a demographic perspective — about Christian issues and individuals.

Nonetheless, I find the blog to be Christian-centric in a way that contradicts the “Why We’re Here” page. I concede that I could be overly sensitive on this point as a non-Christian. I’m a practicing Jew; my theology is unorthodox but my practice leans toward what might be described as a blend of liberal and traditional. Moreover, I consider my faith tradition, in all its permutations, to be under considerable if not existential threat from external and internal pressures.

What prompts me to write this is GetReligion’s apparent decision not to comment on a story I submitted that ran in the New York Times last week under the headline: “Did the Red Sea Part? No Evidence, Archaeologists Say.” Perhaps it was inadvertently overlooked, or simply fell through the cracks because of Holy Week pressures, but several other important non-Christian stories I’ve sent in or have noticed in the major media also have not received comment by the editors. So I discern a pattern.

Why comment on Rachel Zoll’s AP piece on debunking Easter stories and not Michael Slackman’s Times story debunking Passover? I think anytime the Times gives prominent play to a controversial religion story it is worthy of GetReligion comment. …

So tell me, am I out to lunch? Am I simply on another wave length? I welcome repudiation, though agreement would be nicer.

Like I said, it’s an important letter. We’ve been dealing with some of these questions from day one or thereabouts (post No. 24), when Jeff “Killing the Buddha” Sharlet of The Revealer quipped that we want people to “get” religion — our religion. I stressed that we are interested in mainstream news coverage and that, well, we have no plans to add a “Just As I Am, Without One Plea” soundtrack to the site. That remains the case.

We really have no interest in doctrinal fights unless they get woven into the news and, believe me, they often do. That’s where the whole “tmatt trio” thing came from. Those edgy doctrinal questions grew out of my own work covering the Anglican wars, and I will argue again and again that they are valid, information-rich questions, if journalists want to dig beneath the political surface of that ongoing train wreck (and lots of other oldline Protestant stories, as well).

Obviously, reporters focusing on fault lines in Judaism, Islam, neopaganism and other newsworthy faiths would need to ask doctrinal questions appropriate to those groups. As an Orthodox rabbi in Denver once told me, when in doubt ask Jewish newsmakers if they believe in God and if they still believe in the state of Israel.

Meanwhile, I would like someone to show where the featured writers for this blog — as opposed to folks on the comment boards — have veered into evangelistic work. We are constantly trying to police the comments pages to try to get people to focus on the journalistic questions linked to the writing we do here. We should spike more comments than we do.

However, let me answer Rifkin’s main question: Is GetReligion a “Christian” weblog?

The most honest answer is that it is a journalism blog produced by mainstream journalists who are traditional, creedal Christians — Eastern Orthodox, Episcopalian, Lutheran and Presbyterian — who have never hidden their religious convictions.

Yes, I am sure we tend to write about the topics that we know the most about, in part because we don’t want to mess up. I, for one, am constantly aware that I am — this is my goal — writing to an audience of mainstream journalists and that I am also praising or dissecting the work of professionals. I also know that the GetReligion gang has never found a writer with the time to do a decent job covering religion news at the global level. That is another massive area of guilt.

I wish there were more hours in the day. I probably end up writing about one out of 10 news stories or topics that I want to write about. My GetRel guilt file keeps getting bigger.

Nevertheless, keep those news tips coming. And if you send us letters, as opposed to comments, please let us know whether we can publish them. We’re looking for all the content we can get. Believe me.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog.html Jason Pitzl-Waters

    tmatt,

    I have always wondered why Get Religion didn’t recruit a journalist who isn’t a “traditional creedal Christian”. Couldn’t find anybody? None of the non-Christian journalists you know were interested? Surely there is at least one Jewish or Muslim writer out there who would be within your blog’s social/religious comfort zone?

  • Jeff

    One would imagine that Mr. Rifkin might be interested?

  • http://orthodoxinparsonsks.blogspot.com/ Will Harrington

    It seemed strange to me that this story wasn’t covered here, but there are lots of stories that I’ve come across that I think will get covered here but don’t. What seems strange to me is that this would be percieved as a result of christocentrism possibly leaning into anti-semitism. After all, the story of passover and the exodus is important to Christians as well. I think I would type this up as you can’t make everyone happy. Ever.
    On the balance topic, Im one of those creedal Traditionalists (Eastern Orthodox) so that may influence me, but on a practical level, if you take the time to read the comments you will get a lot of religious and pholosophical balance on this blog and the bloggers do make an effort to maintain journalistic balance. It sooms like a good mix as it is. I wonder, though, what criteria should be used to expand the list of bloggers?

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    WILL:

    I thought the tone of Rifkin’s letter was totally respectful and constructive.

    It says a lot that he WANTED the Times piece covered at this site.

    I have tried to take his concerns as seriously as possible.

  • Jerry

    Just for grins, I went over the last few months entries as well as looked in some of the categories. There’s a certain ebb and flow to the stories that are covered, of course, with some topics having a number of stories close together. As you pointed out, of course there would be more stories about Christianity. And the blog does reflect the focus on Islam that is part of religion coverage.

    But my biased opinion is that I would not had so many postings on Romney and the Episcopalian issues. I also did notice a lack of coverage of Jewish issues. I was also surprised by the absence of a Hindu category.

    Maybe one thing to consider is having an occasional ‘guilt pile’ posting of stories that you did not have time to research. Perhaps titled “This Months’s Mea Culpa list of stories I should have covered but did not?” :-) It seems to me that Ira Rifkin’s story is a classic example of one that you could mention. This list would not necessarily contain every suggestion, but those that you thought were notable but just below the bar of stories you had time for.

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

    Point 1: I’m not sure the debate on whether the Exodus happened or not is strictly a Jewish issue. Christians have traditionally accepted the Exodus as well. I can see, because of Passover, why Jewish sensibilities would be raised over the issue.

    Point 2: I understand what the “tmatt trio” aims at, but is that in keeping with the spirit of religious coverage in the media? This one, small aspect does cross that fine line into theological doctrine and debate. It is useful when one wnts to find where various Christian groups stand, but it also elicits a distinctive Christo-centric feel to any debate.

    What might a “tmatt trio” consist of for Jewish adherents or Muslim followers?

    Is it possible to pen up the “staff” (all volunteer, right?) to writers who have a keen insight into the press and religion? Maybe someone wit a religious background who can recognize subtle nuances found in media coverage not easily recognized by the laity? GetReligion could use such people as a fount of education for reporters not versed in religious matters. I know I get the response fromthe local paper on misinformation that the reporters aren’t trained in religion and “do the best they can.” Not exactly a great excuse because often the subject is a matter of curiosity and if a reporter shows little curiosity for his/her subject, what is that person doing in this profession?

  • Spencer

    I’ll admit it. Though I find the evangelicalism (for lack of a more meaningful term) of this blog to be subtle and almost certainly unintentional, I find it to be present all the same. As a fairly theologically liberal Christian, I am always amused that the (often legitimate) journalistic criticisms noted here tend to be along the lines of “there isn’t enough evidence presented for this [theologically liberal] position, and what about the counter [conservative] position?” At least for now I don’t have much time to try to drag up some examples, so you may well disregard this, but it’s an impression that I genuinely get nonetheless, and you might want to know.

    But, you know, a slightly different example is how you deal with Mitt Romney (who, for whatever it’s worth, I do not personally support). I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a post dealing with his presidential race that does not mention the Mormon doctrine of “As man is, God once was.” Which is fine, except that it doesn’t really have anything to do with his presidential campaign, and it’s always presented in a way to make it look untenable if not a little ridiculous. Now, I know you try to keep the comments on such threads away form theological discussions about the doctrine, but the jab is made nonetheless. Those conversations start for a reason.

  • http://www.geocities.com/frgregacca/stfel.html Fr. Greg

    Love you guys, and I’m obviously a creedal Christian as well; however, I would welcome a non-Christian perspective such as Rifkin’s and, I think, it would certainly help y’all achieve your goals with regard to this blog.

  • David Palmer

    Thank you tmatt and co (I like Mollie’s take on things) for a great blog site which I, an Aussie and Presbyterian regularly visit.

    I don’t think you should go beyond orthodox christian contributors (its one of the strengths of Touchstone), though I suppose I wouldn’t mind an orthodox Jew.

  • http://until.joe-perez.com joe perez

    Thanks tmatt for sharing your reader’s frustrations with GetReligion. I’m sure they’re echoed by many whose faith tradition is not traditionalist Christian. I would also be grateful for more coverage of Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, New Age, and other traditions … hope you can find a journalist interested in joining your team.

    I think GetReligion is definitely a blog by Christian writers who let their faith show in their writing, and thank you for not hiding it. I’m not sure that it’s your religious preference that most colors your vantage point, though. I would say it’s all just one aspect of a mythico-essentialist worldview, resigned to co-existing with modernity uneasily and frustrated to heck with postmodernism, and all that those intellectual and personal commitments entail. (My own particular category for GetReligion in on my color-coded Until blogroll is yellow: you’re a synthetic essentialist. I consider my own vantage point post-postmodern.)

    But you neededn’t wait for Ms. or Mr. Perfect to volunteer to join the crew (and work for the wages of virtue). Why don’t you start a GetReligion discussion message board? You and your readers could have a “patrol free zone” for engaging in evangelicism or theological banter or to post news stories that would otherwise languish in your Guilt File. Put enough disclaimers on it to make it clear that it’s a mostly unmoderated free for all, let it fly for six months, and see if the experiment worked? Just a thought.

  • Dennis Colby

    I see Rifkin’s point, but I’m sure he understands that every media outlet – blog, network newscast, NY Times – has limits. Although there’s no news hole in cyberspace, there are plenty of other limits: the time of the contributors and the interest of the readers being paramount. Just look at Christianity Today’s excellent web log: often, they have so many stories they can provide little commentary other than cutting and pasting the nut graf.

    Since I’m one of the readers who suggested the Zoll piece, I’ll say a few words on its behalf:

    (1) The piece was very well done. I’m one of the whiny commenters who complains that this blog too often raps the knuckles of the mainstream press without drawing sufficient attention to when religion is covered well. This was a case where I thought the press did a fine job, and was hoping to see that acknowledged.

    (2) The piece offered an interesting angle on a timeworn story: not just reporting the latest “Jesus was married and died in France” Easter stories, but looking at why those stories crop up at the same time, and interviewing people who understand the timing is no coincidence and are annoyed by it.

    (3) The piece directly tied in with recent posts about the Lenten season, and indirectly with the annual Christmas wars stuff.

    I don’t think it was a mistake to highlight the Zoll piece, and I think Rifkin’s suggestion that there was some kind of “either/or” between that and the Time article is a red herring. Journalists have to make choices about what to cover every single day. This site does, on average, an excellent job of finding the important and interesting stories to focus on.

  • Chris Bolinger

    I don’t know how you Fab Four GetReligion folks find the time to do the good work that you do. Your posts are thoughtful and well-constructed. Some of them must take hours to formulate. Even when I disagree with you, and even though I feel that the blog devotes too much attention to political issues, I appreciate your attention to quality and your willingness to lay it on the line.

    For those who complain that your suggestions aren’t covered or that GetReligion is slanted in a particular fashion, quit whining and do your own blog. This one rocks; leave it alone.

  • Will Harrington

    tmatt,

    I didn’t mean to imply that Mr.Rifkin was being disrespectful of unconstructive but it still struck me as strange. The more I think about it the more I think that it is simply an example of the Impossibility of leaving bias behind completely, on both sides. Mr. Rifkin sees a Christian bias because of the absence of coverage of a particular story. I think that the bias is there (not a bad thing) but the evidence he uses isn’t anything like proof of that bias. It is, however, something that he would have been sensitive to because of his particular belief system. He thought it should be there because it is a central issue to judaism, it wasn’t, and he saw that as a slight, whether intentional or not.
    On your part, I think this was a matter of too much to do and not enough time to do it rather than an intentional choice to exclude a story of primary interest to jews (though also to christians). I suppose the best you can do is remember the criticism and take it to heart, but also remember you can’t leave your biases behind since they will determin what you find interesting enough to blog about and remember you can’t make everyone happy.
    I still wonder, though, what criteria you use when expanding the blagging staff? In depth search for talent? Good drinking buddies with writing talent? Is creedal orthodoxy part of the standard or is that just how it worked out? Just curious. Keep writing, I just found this blog at the beginning of Great Lent and I’ve almast worked my way through the archives. Good stuff.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    Let me offer an early comment on some of items above (I hope there will be many more comments later).

    * It is so hard to get some of our readers to understand that this is not a blog about religion. It’s a blog about how the news media cover religion. That has been a struggle from day 1.

    * This blog has a point of view. Beliefnet.com has a point of view. The Revealer has a point of view. I am not interested in changing the essential nature of the site or its point of view on journalism and religion.

    * The essence of the tmatt trio is that I believe disputes inside religious groups are rooted in religion/doctrine as well as politics/power. Those looking for other expressions of this conviction on the blog need only follow the many posts here about the media’s failure to cover the doctrinal differences inside Islam, especially the terrible silence on the doctrinal differences between moderate Muslims and IslamISTS and between Sunni and Shiites. You need different doctrinal questions when you cover different groups. And, as I have said, just because one wants to see increased research into the beliefs of Hispanics does not mean that one is less interested in research about Asians, or African-Americans, or whoever.

    * Yes, we do lots of Anglican coverage. I believe that many MSM newsrooms have serious flaws in their coverage, especially in terms of seeing the global picture and the, yes, that it is about doctrines other than sexual ethics and the future of marriage.

    * On the Mitt Romney story: The media continue to act as if the issue there is polygamy. Get real. If journalists visited the headquarters of the Assemblies of God, the Southern Baptist Convention, Focus on the Family and a host of other religious groups that influence more than a few GOP Bible Belt primary voters, those journalists would find that no one there is talking about polygamy. They are concerned, instead, about Mormon doctrines linked to the very nature of Jesus and the Father God (and his wive or wives) of this Earth. More than a few will know all about the doctrine of Exaltation. It is not “evangelism” or something like unto that to point out that this will be an issue for Romney in the politics of the Bible Belt region, if Romney does not somehow address the issue somehow. Perhaps polygamy is an issue with some in the general public. But that is not the story among the leaders on the religious right. It’s a journalism question, folks.

    * Spencer: Read the Bill Keller memos on the struggles of the New York Times. Read any of the major (like the LA Times) studies on media bias. The press does struggle to accurately cover the conservative side of most religious and cultural debates. Shoot, that theme is even sounded in some LIBERAL books on media bias (See “What Liberal Media” by Alterman). Thus, this reality shows up quite often on this blog. That is not “evangelism” either.

    * Perez: You should do more media criticism on your own blog. Honest.

    * We do not have an editor who could work fulltime overseeing an open “message board” or the work of a score of volunteer bloggers. If we hand the keys to this blog to another writer or two, it’s because they have joined our team. I do have an Orthodox Jewish writer in mind, however.

    Carry on.

  • Tim J.

    While there’s not much here about Hinduism or Buddhism, I think that the bias there is towards news in the Western world. It’s worth keeping in mind that I very frequently see exhortations here to explain Muslim theological issues in more depth. Like it or not, Christianity and Islam are the news-making religions in this hemisphere.

    Likewise, you certainly see far, far more articles here berating journalists for not getting conservative/orthodox Christians than for not getting liberal Christians, but I think that’s just because those are the ones that journalists don’t get. News organizations understand liberals because they are overwhelmingly populated by them. Conservatives are foreign.

    Perhaps you could alleviate the guilt with a weekly link-dump, ct weblog style? This may not serve your purpose of analyzing news stories on religion, but it would serve my interest in this site as a source of religious stories very nicely.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Very interesting comments! I think Terry nailed it when he described the guilt involved with contributing here. One of the problems is that some weeks in particular have an overwhelming amount of religious coverage I’d like to look at. But with a full-time job and all sorts of other commitments, I don’t get to cover everything I’d like. You may notice I only get to write about four posts a week.

    As far as a bias toward Christianity with our coverage . . . I understand both the concerns and lack of concern with the issue. A few thoughts. One is that Christianity is overwhelmingly the majority religion in this country. It’s natural to expect proportionally more coverage of news stories about Christianity than news coverage of other religions. I mean, I’m just quickly grabbing some data here but Adherents.com says that 76.5% of Americans are Christian and the next largest religious grouping (not counting the unaffiliated) is Jewish at 1.3%. Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, etc., are even lower. Sometimes I think there is a bias in newsrooms against covering Christianity at a level that is representative of its role and place in society. Rather than find good ways to cover Christianity, reporters just go for the “shiny new toys” of various other religions and end up with a certain imbalance.

    Another thought I have is that my work here is guided by my understanding of vocation. I am unabashedly confessional Lutheran, etc. I do not hide that and I mention it when I think it’s appropriate or could reveal some needed information about my perspective. But I in no way believe my job here at GetReligion is to convert people to Lutheranism. I believe my job is to analyze how well the media gets various religious issues. Certainly my perspective as a Lutheran enables me to see problems in a way others might not (for instance, my repeated view that religious coverage is unnaturally obsessed with politics) but I hope that it’s edifying for people who don’t share my religious views.

    It is interesting to me how many members of my family or other close social networks are confused by the actual purpose of GetReligion. Obviously everyone here is interested in religion (both posters and commenters) but our narrow focus on how well mainstream media covers religion? That’s hard for people to grasp. I have heard from people who think it’s unfair that I don’t cover opinion pieces or news from right-wing or left-wing sites. Others think that I should never cover stories about their particular religion because I’m not a member or have personal theological disagreements with it. See my note on vocation above.

    I agree that some topics get more coverage than may seem necessary, but I usually think that there’s good reason for it. The Anglican/Episcopal stories, for instance, deal with a small group of people but are such a nice microcosm of what religion reporters deal with every day. I hope that people can learn from our analysis and various public commenters in a way beyond how those issues affect the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion. I hope that with each story we analyze we’re broadening our criticism to be relevant to many more stories and issues.

    I do like the idea of an occasional “guilt-post” where we just dump all the stories we wanted to get to but couldn’t. Perhaps with one- or two-line comments?

  • Michael

    You all deserve credit for asking these tough questions and airing criticisms of your scope.

    As someone who has been critical of GetReligion, it is also an unusually intelligent and thoughful blog and quite different from most blogs–and even religious blogs–on the net in the way people interact.

    It’s interesting to see TMatt acknowledge the point of view, because I think POV is what trips people up reading this website. Because there is a lot of talk about objectivity and fairness in how the media covers religion on GR, the fact that the blog has a very specific POV sometimes feels counterintuitive. IOW, when one critiques the media for the lack of objectivity and fairness, how does that jibe with a POV that isn’t objective?

    The bloggers have a very clear POV and bias. When you work for a religious conservative interest group, have been a spokesman for conservative religious groups, take money from religious conservative philanthropists, and have your blog hosted by a religious conservative think tank, there’s a lot of bias and POV there.

    Even the TMatt trilogy–which has a clear Christian POV–also has a religious conservative bias. They are the kinds of questions religious conservatives would ask religious liberals and moderates when they wanted to play “gotcha” because they are couched in the language and voice of religious conservatives and orthodox Christians. IOW, only an orthodox Christian would ask those kinds of questions. It’s significant that you never suggest asking religious conservatives those questions (because you already know the answer), but instead bring them up when challenging or questioning moderates and liberals.

    The lack of coverage of traditional Jewish believers–and the overemphasis on Mormons–is striking. It’s also interesting the traditional Muslims appear not to get the kid-gloves empathy that traditional Christians get when it comes to perceiving bias.

    I also think it isn’t always clear when a post is about journalism and when it’s about religion. Sometimes there’s an interesting journalism question, but it often seems that posts seem more about the content of the journalism and not the journalism itself. Maybe because of the obvious POV of the bloggers, it does sometimes seem like posts are less about journalism and more about a desire to make a religious point under the cover of a discussion of journalism.

  • Karen

    Well, if you wish to counter that, I did wonder if the following article would show up on your pages:

    NYTimes: Young Sikh Men Get Haircuts, Annoying Their Elders
    March 29, 2007
    By Amelia Gentlemen

    This was an interesting article, and religious in nature.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    Michael:

    * Blogs are, by definition, zones of opinion and analysis. Correct? I assume your favorite blogs on the left, such as your own, are unaffected by POV?

    What is interesting is when people say that our appeals for balance and accuracy in reporting are, in an of themselves, evidence of bias. I first heard that in the mid-1980s. I can’t believe that some people take that kind of stand against intellectual diversity in journalism.

    * The tmatt trio is a set of questions for one setting. Let me say, again, that reporters need to find the right doctrinal questions that unlock doors in other religious groups. Yes, during the Southern Baptist Convention civil wars I had a key set of questions for those on the right wing in that massive body.

    Hey Michael, you answer the “tmatt trio” questions and I will answer three liberal POV questions about the same three creedal and sacramental issues.

    How would YOU word three questions on the Resurrection, salvation and the Sacrament of Marriage?

  • http://7leper.blogspot.com Bruce

    As an Orthodox rabbi in Denver once told me, when in doubt ask Jewish newsmakers if they believe in God and if they still believe in the state of Israel.

    Just curious, is “believing” in the state of Israel the conservative position now? Seems that Orthodox Jews actively opposed the state of Israel in the beginning. I know most eventually reconciled themselves with it, but are they active supporters now?

  • Larry Rasczak

    Mollie has a great point about Christianity being the majority religion in this country, and how “It’s natural to expect proportionally more coverage of news stories about Christianity than news coverage of other religions.”

    I think that because of this, I personally am less forgiving of media mistakes in stories about Christianity.

    Thanks to the internet it is no longer as difficult as it used to be to find out the particulars of minority religions in this country. Reporters are paid to get their stories right and to fact check things. Still I am more understanding if a reporter gets the difference between Tibetan Buddhisim and Theravada Buddhisim wrong than when they fail to grasp that whole point of Easter is Christ rose from the dead.

    Even if you did not attend Catholic School or go to Vacation Bible Camp as a child, there is a certian amount of simple cultural literacy that is assumed in anyone in society. You are expected to know that the British did not win the Battle of Gettysburg, that Michael Jordan was not the quaterback of the Chicago Bulls, and that Tattoo and Mini-Me are not amongst the Seven Dwarfs. If you have a degree I would expect that you could understand references to Shakespear, the Bible, the Great Gatsby, and at least know that Aristotle and Plato had nothing to do with cooking, even though a lot of Greek resturants reference their names.

    So if you are a blog looking at the issue of how the MSM fails to “get religion’; then the MSM’s repeated failure to grasp the most basic concepts of the majority religion of the nation is perhaps a more outstanding error than their failure to grasp the theology of a religion that less than 1 out of 20 Americans embrace.

    The latter is a failure of proper research, the former is simply inexplicable.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    BRUCE:

    Great question, on the “believing” point. The follow-up questions would yield all kinds of info — including divisions of doctrine within the “Orthodox.”

    Good point.

  • Michael

    TMatt, I’m just pointing out that there is a cognitive dissonance of saying–on the one hand–that the media needs to be balanced and accurate (which it should) and on the other hand blogging with an unbalanced POV (which is what one expects in a blog). I think that’s what trips people up.

    What are the doctrinal questions you use to make Southern Baptists sweat? What are the doctrinal questions you would ask the Orthodox to make them sweat? or your friends and benefactors on the Anglican right?

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    LARRY:

    I am with MZ on the issue of newspapers needing to produce coverage that is, in some way, reflective of the region they are covering.

    But I would not want to see us producing coverage of ANYONE in which those covered are consistently saying, “You got the facts wrong. That isn’t what that word means. That is not what I said.”

    Ruport unto others as you would want them to report unto you.”

    It’s just journalism.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    MICHAEL:

    I’ll answer your questions there after you answer mine.

  • http://watchpost.blogspot.com Tyler Simons

    tmatt: I am not interested in changing the essential nature of the site or its point of view on journalism and religion… If we hand the keys to this blog to another writer or two, it’s because they have joined our team. I do have an Orthodox Jewish writer in mind, however.

    Am I off base sticking these two passages together? My take on Jason’s comment #1 was that maybe y’all might add a non-traditional believer of some kind, not so much that you’d add a traditional creedal (?) Jew. Not that the latter wouldn’t add an interesting perspective to the goings-on here, (go for it!) but an Episcopalian or ELCA Lutheran or even a non-believer, experienced on the God-beat would, assumedly, bring entirely new angles to the coverage here. Am I right in assuming that you intentionally limit the media criticism on the front page to followers of more intentionally tradition-y faiths? Why?

    As far as Rifkin’s comment goes, it seems a little off base to jump on someone for stuff that he didn’t choose to blog about. Even if one feels that a story is important and relevant to one’s chosen field, I think, one shouldn’t write about it unless one has an idea or a fresh perspective to bring. The spark of creativity and insight is fleeting, it is a mistake to expect its constant presence.

    That said, I have gotten a little annoyed with Mollie’s style of media criticism at times. There have been occasions when, as I see it, she allows theological generalizations about the bad-ness of the secular world to creep in and color her analysis of, say, the Washington Post’s religion coverage. I remember when the OnFaith section started printing This-I-Believe type stuff from Christians, Jews, Hindus, Hippies, etc. I might have expected someone from this blog to praise the paper’s attempt to let people’s religious modes of thought speak for themselves, but Mollie was quickly all “Dude, what about the 7th day adventists?!” It seems like she works real hard sometimes to find evidence of a over-arching liberal media bias. Maybe it’s me, but she blurs the line between encouraging responsible journalism and winning rhetorical points in favor of her faith tradition and its claims more than the boys. That’s an interesting question for tmatt, I think, and it ties in with my first point. Is the purpose of this blog solely to encourage responsible, informed journalism or is there a missionary facet? Is the point to encourage responsible, informed journalism of traditional belief structures so that they might be more understandable and appealing to a misguided secular world? If the answer is the former, I don’t see why you don’t work on adding a less doctrinaire believer. I get the sense that this blog pushes in the latter direction.

    (I do want to add that on the occasions when I’ve felt compelled to try to hammer out this point in the comments, Mollie has been more than civil. Part of my issue is, no doubt, that Martin Luther kinda drives me nuts and I tend to take it out on Christians who follow his lead.)

    Sometimes, of course, one needs to work hard not to find evidence of the clueless “look-at-the-weirdos” type of religion story. Mollie only seems to see one side of the problem, here, though. I don’t think the press is much better at getting my liberal Episcopalian story right, but I’d be really, really surprised if you can point me toward a post of hers where she gets all up in the grill of someone who misrepresents or distorts a liberal/revisionist perspective. It does happen though. That’s why I think y’all would be well served to bring on a heterodox contributor. Maybe Ruth Gledhill can do a few guest posts?

    Okay, that’s enough from me. Keep up the good work.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Another note — please please please remember to submit story ideas through the link at the top of the page. That’s how we get a ton of our story ideas and I wish someone had, for instance, submitted that Sikh story of a few weeks ago. We read a LOT of newspapers, etc., but we need help from readers.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Tyler,

    Your criticism is well noted. Just a quick defense on the Seventh-day Adventism issue. I think the WashPost should cover them more because their international headquarters are located in the area.

  • Rick the Texan

    tmatt – Is this a forum for suggesting names? He’d probably be too busy to accept but I am familiar with an observant jew whose initials are Don Feder…

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    TYLER:

    “Am I right in assuming that you intentionally limit the media criticism on the front page to followers of more intentionally tradition-y faiths? Why?”

    I’m tempted to say, “Because it’s my blog.” But that wouldn’t be true. The folks on the left that I know that I would love to work with — think Mark Pinsky in Orlando — are still on the beat and, thus, can’t write at a blog like this.

    But, again, one does not have to work hard at all to find MSM bias against the right on RELIGIOUS issues (as opposed to purely political). Even the liberal books have to admit that this problem is real and must be addressed. Read the NYTs memos, again.

    And if you have a link to a MSM story that shows a conservative bias or factual errors that directly impact the left in the mainline Prot wars, by all means send it on. I would love that input. Send ‘em in!

  • http://watchpost.blogspot.com Tyler Simons

    Sure. I should probably learn more about them, too.

  • Jerry

    I know your focus is on how the American media covers religion but if you had copious spare time, I’d love to see the occasional piece on how the world’s media covers religion. Perhaps sometimes in the next few months there might be a story with wide enough import allow for comparing and contrasting at non-American reporting.

    How would YOU word three questions on the Resurrection, salvation and the Sacrament of Marriage?

    Even in forming the question that way, your frame-of-reference shows. I would not ask those questions. I would ask more general questions such as “What does your religion require from you?” “What are the most important traditional principles your religion teaches?” “What are the core doctrines of your religion”? “How do you feel about those traditional teachings?”

    In trying to formulate such questions, I’m reminded of C.S. Lewis’ “Great Divorce”‘s story about heaven and hell. And I like to see questions framed so that they are relevant to the widest range people’s beliefs.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    JERRY:

    For any believing Christian — left, right, center, up or down — there is no more relevant question in the faith than whether they believe the Resurrection was a real event.

    If you proposed a motion in the U.S. Episcopal House of Bishops to debate this topic and then take a vote, that motion would be tabled so fast that your head would spin.

    The fact that Michael & Co. see this as a question biased in favor of doctrinal traditionalists is merely a statement that folks on the left are not sure that they want to clearly and openly state their beliefs in front of the laity. But if THEY DID state their position on the Resurrection clearly, it would certainly be newsworthy and it would be crucial to state what the left said accurately.

    I have always enjoyed covering people on the theological left who are comfortable with their own beliefs and who are willing to discuss them right out in the open.

  • http://watchpost.blogspot.com Tyler Simons

    (My last comment was directed at Mollie’s line about the 7DAs)

    tmatt: Is there an ethical reason people still on the beat can’t contribute here on some kind of guest-post basis, say, or is it a time issue? Do you think that the coverage would be more complete if there was someone “on the left” or not? I can’t figure that out from your last comment. I wish you’d engaged some of the things I said a little more substantively, but maybe I wasn’t clear enough.

    I don’t really understand this paragraph:

    But, again, one does not have to work hard at all to find MSM bias against the right on RELIGIOUS issues (as opposed to purely political). Even the liberal books have to admit that this problem is real and must be addressed. Read the NYTs memos, again.

    What’s the difference between bias against the right on religious issues and bias on purely political issues? I’m not saying I don’t agree, but I don’t really know what you’re getting at and how it relates to what I said. I haven’t been reading y’all every day for the last few months, and I don’t even know what NYT memos you’re talking about.

    As you probably know, I think it’s a little confusing to say that I was arguing for the inclusion of someone from the “left” here. The left/right split, it seems to me, doesn’t map perfectly onto the doctrinal questions. While virtually all of the folks in my congregation are cool with the fact that our priest lives with his male partner, there is a variety of perspectives on, say, supply-side economics. Pope Benedict XVI doesn’t really think that our priest should be trying to maintain a fulfilling, meaningful relationship or else that it’s possible for him to do so, but the same Pope has been a vocal opponent of the war in Iraq from day one.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    TYLER:

    Most working beat reporters who never, ever comment on the work of others in their field. People on the beat write us all the time with comments and then say, “Please do not use my name.”

    Your final paragraph in Comment 33 perfectly makes my point. The left-right divide in religion is not the same as in politics (other than on a few hot-button issues linked to centuries of Christian doctrine).

    That is why this blog is more interested in points of religion and doctrine than religion and politics.

    The bias issues are also much clearer on religion than in politics. Read a good book from the left on that, such as the Alterman book I cited earlier.

    For the NYTs memos, just Google our site for the word “Keller.”

  • http://watchpost.blogspot.com Tyler Simons

    Here’s a question Michael should ask. (I feel like I should help him out; we probably agree on a lot of stuff, but I think he’s being unneccessarily confrontational in this thread):

    Muhatma Ghandi has expressed nothing but admiration for the teachings of Jesus Christ. His method of non-violent resistance owes a great deal to the Christian witness. However, the Indian leader never professed any kind of faith in the resurrection of Our Lord as proclaimed in the Christian New Testament. He never mentioned accepting Jesus as his personal savior. He was never baptized. (Is that true? Let’s assume it is.)

    Is Ghandi in hell now?

    tmatt: You may well have a hard time getting Episcopal priests and bishops to state exactly what their understanding of the Resurrection entails. Maybe traditionalists are more likely to be straight about the Ghandi question than Episcopalians are with your trio. I think this would be a problem, too, and assuming everything goes okay with my ordination, you can count on me to call it as I see it. (And I intend to say something like this to my ordination committee — think they’ll let me through?) I do think, though, that the vast majority of Episcopal priest and bishops would take pains to explain, publicly, on the record, that insofar as there is an Anglican or Episcopalian tradition, included among its central components would be

    1. The conviction that a single understanding of the Resurrection should not be considered normative for all Episcopalians or all Christians, and

    2. Even if were desirable for all Episcopalians to share one “true” understanding of the Christ-even in its entirety, it is certainly not the place of the house of Bishops (or the Primates of the Anglican Communion, for that matter) to dictate what that understanding is or should be.

    Michael, Jerry, I think you’re protesting too much. tmatt’s trio of questions provides every opportunity to explain these positions.

    I personally, waver between thinking that the resurrection was a real event and thinking it solely myth (not as fiction per se, but, as R. Niebuhr put it, something to be taken seriously, but not literally.) I’m rather comfortable wavering on this issue — I don’t waver in my conviction that, whatever salvation looks like, it’s truly odd to believe that it depends entirely or mostly on one’s assent to or rejection of the historical facticity of the empty tomb. For episcopalians, insofar as I can speak for them, the truth and meaning of the Resurrection isn’t a yes or no question.

    I actually find it hard to believe that it’s that difficult for reporters to find Episcopalians (etc.) willing to state this on the record. Bishop Katharine’s been pretty up front in interviews about her own faith, hasn’t she?

    Sorry, not much media criticism in that last bit.

  • Dennis Colby

    Tyler,

    The problem with the Gandhi question is that the answer of an archconservative Catholic Latin Mass fan and guitar-strumming Congregationalist youth pastor could well be the same: Who knows? That answer is doctrinally orthodox in both their teachings.

    The advantage of the tmatt trio is that it asks very specific questions with answers that can tell you pretty quickly where someone stands in the world of Chalcedonian Christianity. This is why I dislike questions like “What are the core tenets of your religion?” or “What does your religion require of you?”

    As a reporter, I object to questions like that because they give the subject far too much wiggle room. My preference is for direct questions and direct answers.

  • James Davis

    Others have pretty well stated my concerns already. I agree with Molly that Christianity is often the issue because it’s the religion that get the most criticism in the MSM. And I agree with Terry that conservative versus liberal stances are the major fault line across many faith traditions.

    The one thing I would change, or add, in this otherwise excellent blog would be more critique of Muslim coverage. Muslims whom I’ve interviewed sound much like evangelical Christians in their complaints about media caricature and stereotype. Terry mentioned the “terrible silence” about doctrinal divisions in Islam, and how the affect politics. Well, there is some coverage, although I agree not a lot. If possible, it would be nice to add that facet to GetReligion.

    But I hasten to add, that in no way takes from the good work GetReligion does. Terry once called me a friend of this blog, and he’s right. I’ve often recommended GetReligion to fellow journalists, twice just this past week. And not, I’m sure, for the last time.

  • Michael

    I think you’re protesting too much. tmatt’s trio of questions provides every opportunity to explain these positions.

    Oh, I think there is every opportunity to explain those positions. The minefield is what happens with those explanations. When you see how Bp. Schori is mocked when she describes her faith, you can understand the reluctance of answering those questions, especially in our current climate. That’s how it becomes gotcha, or maybe more accurately “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

    That said, sometimes that’s what reporters do. It’s perfectly reasonable to ask Bp. Schori these kinds of questions, just as it’s reasonable to ask the leader of the a doctrinally traditional church to define “literalism” or even “traditional.” But I’m not sure why it’s necessary to pretend those don’t come from an unobjective viewpoint and that both the questions and the answers have a consequence.

  • ira rifkin

    Allow me first to convey my sincere thanks for the thoughtful and open manner in which the GR staff has responded to my note (fyi; it was sent as a private email rather than a post because I thought GR writers should have time to formulate responses prior to being overwhelmed by reader posts).

    Additionally, the general level of the posts underscores for me the blog’s value and importance.

    Now for some quick responses to a bit of what’s been written:

    As the opening graph of my note (printed above by tmatt) made clear, I fully understand and respect the right of this blog or any publication to determine its subject matter, tone and POV. I also made clear that I see full journalistic justification for emphasizing Christian stories on demographic grounds alone.

    I never called for changes in content. My sole justification for writing was my perception of a disconnect between the blog’s “Why We’re Here” statement and the blog’s usual content. That’s my argument in a nutshell.

    tmatt & co. have every right not to mess with the blog’s POV or scope. But perhaps “Why We’re Here” should be tweaked to reflect the realities that have been expressed in response to my question (question, not criticism) of whether GR is a Christian blog or a journalism blog.

    Also, In a subsequent note sent to tmatt & co. I emphasized that I was speaking about skimpy coverage given to all non-Christian stories. I was not lobbying for greater Jewish coverage alone.

    (For the record, and in response to one post, I did not imply, nor do I think, that anti-Semitism in any way is a factor here. The suggestion is entirely inappropriate.)

    There’s much more I could say, but not now.

    In closing, let me to say that I consider myself a friend of GR and I hope that GR thinks kindly of me. Keep up the great work and try not to let GetRel guilt get the best of you.

    Now for some lunch.

  • Diane Fitzsimmons

    I am an evangelical Christian living in the Bible Belt. I also happen to be a former journalist. I started reading Get Religion because I was appalled at how my little corner of the world (conservative Christian, Red State) was described in the MSM. I know a loaded word when I see one.

    I have noticed that the comments here tend to be about the Mainstream Christian churches, the Falwells/Robertsons/Dobsons, and Catholics. There are occasional stories about the outliers — be they Christian or otherwise — but not much. I have always assumed that it’s for two reasons — 1. The MSM doesn’t have much coverage on that; 2. Get Religion writers don’t have much knowledge of the outliers, i.e., it’s hard to spot bias or other problems in the story if you don’t see the world through the particular lens of the religion being highlighted in the story.

  • http://altreligion.about.com Jennifer Emick

    As someone who approached most of these issues as a complete outsider (The last time I was in a Church for purposes other than tourism was 1983), I do find myself scratching my head at some of the coverage. The first thing I see is an almost overwhelming tilt toward Anglican stories, which of course has been acknowledged.

    What gets under my skin a bit, however, is that a lot of the griping I see over these particular stories comes from a very inside position, over details that are going to be opaque to anyone who is not an insider. So we see intense criticism of reporters for not ‘getting’ doctrinal issues that I imagine many Anglicans aren’t up to speed on (judging from informal polling at my house). A bias would be fine except that the thrust of this blog appears to be that bias keeps reporters from seeing the bigger picture, and by sticking to what you know, you’re in a sense making the same mistake.

    Added to this, a majority of the negative comments I see (on the blog, not the blog comments) seem to be along the lines of “those liberals,” either the lib reporters who don’t get Conservative fill-in-the-blanks, or the liberal fill-in-the-blanks who aren’t true believers because they don’t accept some doctrinal point or another.

    At the same time, I see a lot of similar coverage of other faiths and denominations that go by unmentioned or under-mentioned. Another commenter mentioned the coverage of Islam, and I have to agree. I live and work among Muslims, and I have yet to meet one who resembles the ones I read about. I see dozens of Sikh stories, and not one that has ever broached Sikh belief (they’re not Muslims is about as deep as most go.)

    The Mormon issue is another good example- this is a faith that is very much in the spotlight, that most people know very little about, that has been in friction with evangelicals, and the coverage seems an afterthought, even though the only issue that seems to get discussed is the aforementioned polygamy.

    I have to side with Jason, too- it just can’t be that difficult to find non-Christian writers, or at the very least, occasional contributors, advisors, or what have you.

    On an unrelated note, I have to disagree that Beliefnet has a point of view. If they do, it’s toward their bank account.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    MICHAEL:

    Well, you sure got me there. The vast majority of practicing Christians, globally, are clearly biased in favor of belief in the Resurrection.

    As Michael declines, once again, to answer my question.

  • Jerry

    For any believing Christian — left, right, center, up or down — there is no more relevant question in the faith than whether they believe the Resurrection was a real event.

    Rather than prejudge that, I wanted to ask people what they think the most relevant issues are. I suspect your statement is correct for many, but that should not be prejudged when asking questions in my biased opinion.

  • Spencer

    Tmatt, I’d just like to make sure that you know how much respect I have for this blog, and how much enjoyment I take from it on a daily basis. I also want you to know how much I respect the fact that you’re opening up discussion for these types of questions.

    That said, I’d like to echo Michael’s comments, largely. From the “Why We’re Here” page to the William Schnider sub-headline, the blog seems to suggest that it’s raison d’etre is to provide a certain service, namely to comment on and supplement religious journalism. Now, because of the nature of journalism, much of those comments deal with the biases present throughout the various publications and articles. I think it just seems to strike some readers as a little strange when your own point of view surfaces in the course of those discussions—seems to be just a little off. I am not suggesting that you don’t have a right to posit that bias (you do), or that blogs are not an appropriate forum for that (they are). I am only offering a sort of explanation for the sort of impressions some readers seem to have of the site.

    Of course, there’s no reason for you to change the way business is run around here. We’ll all keep coming back no matter what, because it is, above all, an intelligent and considerate place. But you asked us, and we’re just being honest. There’s no hard feelings involved.

  • Jerry

    A coda: I also salute all the participants here. The quality of the postings and comments is exemplary. I believe the role of spirituality in the modern world to be a critical area to explore. So I’m very happy to find a place where the intersection of reporting and religion is explored in such a fine manner.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    So after reviewing Tyler’s comments about my style of media criticism, I have to admit I’m not sure I agree. Now I know it’s hard for a person to look objectively at themselves but I don’t see how I refer to the secular world as bad (quite the opposite, I think) and I think I work hard to show how reporters are not some monolithic leftist cabal. But maybe I’m missing the point of his concerns.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    I have two more thoughts:

    1) I know this isn’t the whole basis for our discussion, but we could have just as easily covered that Exodus story as not covered it. “Not covering it” doesn’t mean we’re a Christian blog. “Covering it” doesn’t mean we’re not. Sorry for the negatives. In my case, “not covering it” meant I didn’t have enough time that week.

    2) I love love love love and covet more participation in the comments from people with diverse perspectives. I think it’s one of the best things about this blog — that we’re not an echo chamber of people who all agree with each other. Fact is that I don’t agree 100 percent of the time with even Terry, Doug or Daniel. It’s not that I even disagree with them so much as that I would criticize the same pieces in a completely different way. But I learn from them and also from our non-aligned readers and appreciate their thoughtful criticism of our criticism. Even if we don’t all have the same views, we do all share a desire to improve journalism — and that gives us a shared basis for discussion.

    3) Having said that, I would strongly oppose any change of view from our perspective. I think that broadening that perspective too much would water down our blog and make it less interesting. I wish that there were more sites like ours that dealt with the same issue from other perspectives, but I don’t necessarily want that to be our site. I want the contributors here to be journalists or have a background in journalism first and foremost. I think our site is so popular because we tap into a particular angst that has been brewing for years. Other angst exists but I don’t know if it is our angst to cover. Also, it’s hard enough to keep comments, etc. on this site from degenerating down the rabbit-hole of doctrinal discussions. But then again, I’m resistant to change so you have to factor that in . . .

    Okay, that was three thoughts. Lo siento.

  • http://www.spiritualtramp.com Scott

    Rather than prejudge that, I wanted to ask people what they think the most relevant issues are. I suspect your statement is correct for many, but that should not be prejudged when asking questions in my biased opinion.

    I think that if you’re a Christian you should at least consider what Paul said about it in 1 Corinthians 15 before you make a statement concerning what you think is more relevant. Especially this part.

    17and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.

    It’s probably that passage that makes it one of the trio questions, but that’s an assumption on my part.

    I have to say that though I read this blog less than I used to, that’s got less to do with the blog and more to do with time. I understand the whole concept of not having enough hours in the day to do what you want and I enjoy and appreciate that you guys work hard to find what you believe to be the best of the lot.

  • http://rub-a-dub.blogspot.com MattK

    All I want is more Madonna coverage. Is she really a Jew? Did a beit din approve her conversion? Does she accept the historicity of the OT miracles? Does she keep a kosher kitchen? Does she study talmud as well as kaballah? Is she a member of a synagogue? I really wish someone would cover this story, and drop the election coverage already.

  • Michael

    As Michael declines, once again, to answer my question.

    When I become famous, write a book, or go on the paid lecture circuit and therefore my view has consequences for anyone, I’d be happy to sit down for an interview as long as a transcript of the interview is linked to the story :)

    Otherwise, it’s not about me.

    All I want is more Madonna coverage.

    Can I get an Amen?

  • http://until.joe-perez.com joe perez

    FYI following up on my comment #10 and Mattingly’s reply at #14, there’s a short essay today on my blog entitled “What Good Religion Journalism Looks Like” (hint, it’s not a parrot of GetReligion).

  • http://carelesshand.net Jinzang

    Surely ther must be a journalist out there who’s a practicing Wiccan? Although getting them to admit it may be difficult.

    Here’s a story that deserves to be covered: attacks on Sikhs by people who think they’re Muslim or Arab. The stories are out there if you look for them, though mostly in local press. Even some Buddhists have been attacked as Muslims by some not too savvy bgots.

  • Amy H

    Jennifer Emick (#42 said):

    …I do find myself scratching my head at some of the coverage. The first thing I see is an almost overwhelming tilt toward Anglican stories, which of course has been acknowledged.

    Which just goes to show you what a hard job our faithful GetReligionistas have, since I always look forward to their takes on the Anglican saga (although another image than the bomb behind the cathedral might be nice).

    For me, it’s the Mitt Romney stories. Please, no more! (But that’s likely because, being Canadian, I can’t vote in your election.)

    I have to agree wholeheartedly with Mollie that maybe GR can’t or shouldn’t be all things to all people. Perhaps there are other bloggers who can take up the cause.

    I really like the idea of guest bloggers, though. Ruth Gledhill uses it to good effect. In fact, I think someone already said that Ruth would make a good guest here on GR. I agree. It would also be a great way to get more international coverage, which is what I wish GR did more of.

    All of that said, the one thing that must never, ever happen again :-) is the appearance of the Withering Perry Head on a GR post (see Doug Leblanc’s entry of a few days ago). Conflating a girl’s two favourite stops on the Internet can be very disconcerting first thing in the morning, particularly before she’s had her coffee!

  • MJBubba

    Professor Terry,
    I was surprised a bit at the impact of guilt, since you are Eastern Orthodox. You are supposed to live in the Theory of Grace. Let Mollie The Lutheran help you out with that, and let all that guilt slide over to Young Daniel the Presbyterian.

    I have the idea that the reason for the conservative Christian point of view to come through so clear at GetReligion, in contrast to liberal Christian concerns, is that the mainstream media are way more sympathetic to the liberals, in ways that frequently skew coverage of news.

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

    I was surprised a bit at the impact of guilt, since you are Eastern Orthodox. You are supposed to live in the Theory of Grace. Let Mollie The Lutheran help you out with that, and let all that guilt slide over to Young Daniel the Presbyterian.

    Well, Lutherans carry a fair amount of guilt as well (speaking as a Lutheran). It may have something to do with the Germano-Nordic heritage! :)

    Luther once stated that “the Law is a constant companion in a man’s heart; the Gospel a seldom visitor.” If there is a reason I seek weekly attendance at church is because Ineed to “daily drown the Old Adam (guilt) and bring forth the New Man (grace).”

    Having read this blog for some time now Ido know that other faiths get coverage. I believe it may have o do with what’s “hot news” at the time. At Holy Week the media fixates om Christ amd the resurrection. Passover is in close proximity so the media fixates on matters like could the Exodus have happened. Some months ago tmatt focused on the failure of journaliststo ask basic questions on our behalf onwhat differentiates Shi’a Islam from Sunni Islam.

  • Adam Greenwood

    I like this blog. In my mind, it provides the valuable service of pointing out errors and bias in MSM coverage of topics of interest to traditional, creedal Christians. This blog’s attempts to go outside that, as with Mormons or Muslims, have been laughable. But there’s no reason getreligion.org should be all things to all people. Taken for what it is, I like it.


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