A few days ago, the Christian Post ran a story that included this passage:
The Cathedral’s exclusion of evangelicals is “not surprising,” Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, told GetReligion.org.
“There is a tragic intolerance toward Protestants and particularly toward evangelicals,” he said. “I wish the president would refuse to speak unless it was more representative.”
Except that Frank Page didn’t tell GetReligion.org this. He didn’t talk to us, at all. Instead, Bobby quoted and critiqued a portion of a story that quoted Frank Page.
I suppose it could have happened a couple of times in the many years we’ve been posting here, but as a rule, we don’t do original reporting at GetReligion. We all might be reporters in our other jobs, but that’s not what we do at GetReligion. Here, we look at how other folks report religion news and we analyze it.
It’s so hard to shoot down misattributions such as this in the Internet age, but it’s worth correcting the record here.
And on that note, I had something kind of weird happen where USA Today linked to a blog post I wrote and yet set it up to say something I didn’t say.
I wrote a post generally praising Laurie Goodstein’s piece in the New York Times on the controversies about which religious figures were or were not invited to various 9/11 commemorations. At the end, I pointed out that these stories about the controversy tend to neglect confessional Protestants such as myself who don’t seek to take part in these services. We tend to highlight congregational worship but avoid interfaith worship on doctrinal grounds. This has been described as a Two Kingdoms approach. We almost never get coverage for this view.
So then, here’s how that was written up:
Could it be that evangelicals were “snubbed” when no clergy were invited to the New York City official 9/11 memorial event?
Does it bother you that a rainbow of religious traditions — but no conservative evangelical voices — were invited to speak at the Washington National Cathedral’s Sunday morning vigil?
Mollie Hemingway at the critique site Get Religion wondered why Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims but no Southern Baptists or pastors from the Lutheran Missouri Synod or the more traditionalist wing of Presbyterians were on the Cathedral program.
Except I didn’t in any way say this. I mean, not only do the words “Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims” not appear in my post, not only does the term “Southern Baptists” not appear in my post, but most importantly, I did not in any way wonder why Lutherans and Presbyterians weren’t on the program.
Sort of the opposite. I wanted the media to look beyond the simple “Protestants on the left vs. Protestants on the right” template they tend to set up. I mentioned that confessional Protestants — my own church, especially — have a completely different approach that gets neglected in the highly politicized media environment. Eastern Orthodox Christians also have problems praying in interfaith, as opposed to ecumenical Christian, settings.
Unfortunately this mistaken interpretation of what I said has spread elsewhere online.
What can I do? Well, in addition to laughing over how much this might prove my point about the media having trouble with the Two Kingdoms approach to church-state issues, I will work to write more clearly about this topic. And I can request, again, that folks read some Darryl Hart (and others) on the matter. It really does help to see how we tend to follow certain narratives at the expense of others.