Where are the religion voices?

White_MuteButton_Pacifier.JPGThis isn’t a news story, which means that it has no direct connection to the purpose of this weblog. However, it is a insightful note by a veteran religion reporter who, sadly, now has to let his insights into the Godbeat trickle out through blogging at a site other than the one he used to call his own.

That would be Jeffrey Weiss of the Dallas Morning News, who now appears on a regular basis over at PoliticsDaily.com, while he holds down his day job covering suburban news. For more info on that sad story, click here.

Anyway, like anyone with a brain who cares about news, and about religion news in particular, Weiss has been trying to keep up with the flood of information coming out of Iran. After doing this for several days, he realized that there were voices that he was used to hearing in these kinds of stories that he was, to his surprise, not hearing this time around.

Thus, he writes:

Watching the TV and Internet as events spin wildly in Iran, I went searching for what I was sure would be religious institutional voices weighing in. I’ve mostly come up dry. Usually such hugely public events mean that my e-box fills with official statements from the broad spectrum of institutional religion. So far I’ve seen nothing. So I went searching. I’ve done Internet news searches for “Iran” and a bunch of other religious terms: “Bishop” and “Catholic” and “Baptist” and “pastor” and “rabbi.”

Aside from the leaders of a few U.S. congregations that include Iranian immigrants, I’m finding nothing. …

There’s nothing on the website of the Southern Baptist Convention. Understandable, perhaps, because the SBC’s annual convention is set to begin in Louisville this week and pretty much anybody important is in transit.

The U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops is similarly silent. That body’s semi-annual meeting just ended a few days ago, so maybe they too are in transit.

United Methodist Church, Union for Reform Judaism, Committee on American-Islamic Relations, Unitarian Universalists. These are all folks who usually jump pretty fast to take stands. All silent thus far.

Over at the World Council of Churches, the leadership is thinking about the Middle East. But that means more talk about the Israel-Palestine conflict. The National Council of Churches is still focused on torture. Nothing so far at the National Association of Evangelicals, either.

In the wake of Tiananmen Square, Weiss wonders if it would actually help for American religious leaders — think Jews and Christians — to speak out in this case. It is also possible that mainline leaders are watching the White House and are trying follow its lead, by being careful.

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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://goodintentionsbook.com Bob Smietana

    Baptist Press, the SBC news service, has done some stories about the unrest.



  • Jerry

    This isn’t a news story, which means that it has no direct connection to the purpose of this weblog.

    Sometimes lack of coverage does need to be underlined and in an ideal universe would be the basis of a story. So I think it was a good idea to recognize the ghost.

  • http://pfarrerstreccius.blogspot.com Bill Baar

    If health care reform is the most profound moral issue of the day, than the Iranian Revolution has gotten in the way of a good many Liberal Churches’s agendas. I belong to one and just dumbfounded when I find a Minster of my Associations posting something like this: http://www.sunflowerchalice.com/?p=593

    We’ve become so comfortable we’ve lost our prophetic voices.

  • http://politicsdaily.com Jeffrey Weiss

    Thanks for noticing! And the silence continues, pace the news accounts compiled by Baptist Press.

    I’m not saying the silence is a bad thing, given the impossibility of predicting how such statements would affect events in Iran. But that kind of hurdle hasn’t stopped religious establishments from weighing in on all manner of topics in the past. As ghosts go, it’s a puzzlement.

  • http://pfarrerstreccius.blogspot.com Bill Baar

    Thanks for writing this Jeff. I’ve noticed and meeting my drum and posting as loud as I can among Unitarian Universalists.

    I was rereading some of the UCC posts on Iran and all of the calls for dialogue in 2007. Makes the silence in 2009 seem so weird.

  • Dave

    Unitarian Universalists, like the Catholic Bishops and the Southern Baptists, are just kicking off their annual General Assembly.

    The religious voices that would be most interesting are, of couse, Moslem voices, especially Shi’ite.

  • Dave

    Just an addendum because I fogot to check the follow-up notification box (blush).

  • http://pfarrerstreccius.blogspot.com Bill Baar

    Unitarian Universalists, like the Catholic Bishops and the Southern Baptists, are just kicking off their annual General Assembly.

    I hope journalists covering these conventions have the sense to ask why the silence.

  • Dave

    There will probably be non-silence from the UUs. Most statements that come out of the General Assembly have to be mulled by the congregations for a couple of years; GA is a gathering of congregational representatives. But we have a feature or two that allow GA to speak unilaterally on emergent matters, and Iran is likely to evoke that.

  • http://pfarrerstreccius.blogspot.com Bill Baar

    I hope your right Dave. I’d be awfully shamed if GA went silent here.