Pod people: Civil (religion) wars

On this week’s Crossroads podcast, host Todd Wilken and I discuss coverage of some of the religion battles at or near the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. We also talked, briefly, about coverage of the Pakistani Christian girl who was charged with blasphemy and the imam who was charged with setting her up.

In comments to that last post, a reader pointed out that the twists and surprises in this story keep on coming. The Guardian wrote up how the chairman of the All Pakistan Ulema Council hailed the girl as a “daughter of the nation” and disparaged the imam and his supporters.

I hoped that American press is as interested in covering all angles of this story as British press have been. Here are two examples that show strong interest in reporting the significance of the story. The Christian Science Monitor did a great job of advancing the story, using the hook of the girl’s dramatic helicopter delivery to a secure location:

Activists seeking to reform Pakistan’s stringent blasphemy laws had hoped this case would spur public debate and government action toward amending the laws. However, that has not happened yet, say activists, and the girl’s release may cause the spotlight to fade.

“Even though we are happy that the child is now reunited with her parents, I am unhappy about the public face the government put on during the ordeal. The state did not come with any long term resolve to stop the abuse of blasphemy laws, and the debate does not even seem to go in that direction,” says Peter Jacob, head of one of the largest minority rights’ activist groups in Pakistan.

The Washington Post gave a great summary of the case to date, albeit much more hopeful than the Monitor‘s piece.

On a separate note, I can’t think of a better example for how shoddily the religious angles in liberal political scenarios are covered than what we saw in last week’s debates. Whether it was the lack of interest in the platform story as it was first developing, the confusion over what the debates meant or signified, the failure to notice religious adherents at the convention in any substantive manner, or anything else, really, it was just not a great week. As hostile as the media can be when it comes to covering stories involving religion and conservative ideology, the complete blind spot when it comes to covering stories involving religion and liberal ideology is arguably worse.

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