A Baptist preacher runs for president

gov mike huckabeeArkansas Governor Mike Huckabee today officially launched his bid to be the 2008 Republican nominee for president (or, as some would say, his candidacy to be someone’s vice president). Thanks to some diligent reading and good questions from Meet the Press host Tim Russert on Sunday, we have a pretty good idea of how the former Baptist preacher understands the role of his faith in his public duties.

Huckabee joins a set of genuine conservative Republican candidates who match or exceed President Bush’s rhetoric in the gay marriage-abortion debate that so excites conservative Christians. In other words, Huckabee will be competing with Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney for the endorsements of James Dobson and Co.

At this point, it’s fair to say that Huckabee is seen in a distant third place to Romney and Brownback in terms of national support from conservative Christians. Romney has the resume, organization/fundraising prowess and the great hair, while Brownback has experience in Washington and his story is embraced by the Michael Gerson types because of his advocacy for the less fortunate in the world. So what does it say about the conservative Christian movement to see a Mormon and a Catholic drawing far more support than the Baptist Preacher? Just asking.

Huckabee the Baptist preacher is going to have to answer questions that have been asked of Romney the Mormon and our country’s first Catholic president, John F. Kennedy — and Brownback the Catholic is likely to face some questions too. Russert got us off to a good start Sunday morning:

MR. RUSSERT: I want to ask you a couple things that you said earlier in your political career. “Huckabee … explained why he left pastoring for politics. ‘I didn’t get into politics because I thought government had a better answer. I got into politics because I knew government didn’t have the real answers, that the real answers lie in accepting Jesus Christ into our lives.’” And then this: “I hope we answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for Christ.” Would you, as president, consider America a Christian nation and try to lead it as — into a situation as being a more Christian nation?

GOV. HUCKABEE: I think it’s dangerous to say that we are a nation that ought to be pushed into a Christian faith by its leaders. However, I make no apology for my faith. My faith explains me. It means that I believe that we’re all frail, it means that we’re all fragile, that all of us have faults, none of us are perfect, that all of us need redemption. We are a nation of faith. It doesn’t necessarily have to be mine. But we are a nation that believes that faith is an important part of describing who we are, and our generosity, and our sense of optimism and hope. That does describe me.

MR. RUSSERT: But when you say …

GOV. HUCKABEE: I’m appalled, Tim, when someone says, “Tell me about your faith,” and they say, “Oh, my faith doesn’t influence my public policy.” Because when someone says that, it’s as if they’re saying, “My faith isn’t significant, it’s not authentic, it’s not so consequential that it affects me.” Well, truthfully my faith does affect me. But it doesn’t make me think I’m better than someone, it makes me know that I’m not as good as I really need to be.

MR. RUSSERT: But when you say “take this nation back for Christ,” what does that say to Jews, Muslims, agnostics, atheists? What …

GOV. HUCKABEE: Well, I think I — I’d probably phrase it a little differently today. But I don’t want to make people think that I’m going to replace the Capitol dome with a steeple or change the legislative sessions for prayer meetings. What it does mean is that people of faith do need to exercise their sense of responsibility toward education, toward health, toward the environment. All of those issues, for me, are driven by my sense that this is a wonderful world that God’s made, we’re responsible for taking care of it. We’re responsible for being responsible managers and stewards of it. I think that’s what faith ought to do in our lives if we’re in public service.

capitol domeNote how immediately after this set of questions and answers, the interview led directly into questions on gays and abortion. But more on that another time.

Writing on the Huckabee announcement, which was actually made on Meet the Press, The Washington Post‘s Lois Romano highlights the section on Huckabee’s faith:

He also publicly supported creationism, a philosophy advocated by fervent Christians, arguing that students should be exposed to the study of the doctrine as well as evolution.

When moderator Tim Russert pressed Huckabee on whether he would lead the United States to be a more Christian nation, he replied: “We are a nation of faith. It doesn’t necessarily have to be mine.”

“I make no apology for my faith,” he said. “My faith explains me.”

Huckabee’s candidacy has several compelling stories lines. The most prominent is his similarities with President Clinton (both born in the same small town of Hope, Ark., both governor of Arkansas) and his ability to lose a lot of weight in a short time. But the deeper, more significant story is going to be this faith thing and how it explains him.

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Separation of church and crown

queenmirrenAs the reigning (three-time) champion of my newsroom’s Oscar pool, I’ve been preparing for the coming battle by watching as many Oscar-contending films as possible. The Queen was definitely one of the best movies of the year. Helen Mirren is amazing. Unfortunately Peter Morgan’s Oscar-nominated screenplay was tampered with a bit by some censors. The Associated Press’ Giovanna Dell’Orto reports:

So much for God and country, at least during some in-flight showings of the Oscar-nominated movie “The Queen.” That’s because all mentions of God are bleeped out of a version of the film given to some commercial airlines.

Even in these politically correct times, censoring references to God in the film wasn’t a statement of some kind. Rather, it was the mistake of an overzealous and inexperienced employee for a California company that edits movies selected for onboard entertainment.

. . . So the new censor mistakenly bleeped out each time a character said “God,” instead of just when used as part of a profanity, said Jeff Klein, president of Jaguar Distribution, the company that distributed the movie to airlines this month.

“A reference to God is not taboo in any culture that I know of,” Klein said. “We excise foul language, excessive violence and nudity.”

It’s not the hardest-hitting story, but I appreciate how well the reporter captured the religious angles. It’s also really funny. Read the whole thing.

In much more serious news, the British government has passed a law that requires all adoption agencies to provide their services to gay couples, whether or not they have a religious objection to doing so. The law goes into effect across Britain in April.

Leaders of the Church of England are helping the Roman Catholic Church in its bid to exempt its adoption agencies from having to choose between following their religious beliefs and complying with the law.

You can go here or here for explanations of the story.

You may also want to check out this Reuters piece by Paul Majendie, which questions whether the conflict means the Church of England should lose its special status as the state religion:

[Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan] Williams, spiritual head of the world’s 77 million Anglicans, argued: “The rights of conscience cannot be made subject to legislation, however well-meaning.”

So who then does he owe allegiance to?

Williams said: “What’s at stake ultimately is whether the church is answerable finally to the state as the only court of appeal or whether the church can rightly appeal to other sources for its moral compass.”

Long gone are the days when Britain had an empire and its missionaries helped colonise vast areas of the world.

But Anglican vicars still swear allegiance to the Crown. They are paid by the state for working in prisons, hospitals and the armed forces.

I feel like someone should tease out some Sir Thomas More parallels.

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A Roman Catholic is a Catholic is a catholic?

RelegEd3bIt’s an old question: Is the pope Catholic?

OK, here is the modern question that seems to come up every few months in a major newspaper or wire service: If the pope says you are no longer a Catholic, are you still a Catholic?

I raise this question because of the interesting Religion News Service story by Jeff Diamant that ran the other day in The Washington Post, the one under the headline “Some Dissenters Quit the Church But Don’t Stop Being Catholic.”

The story is about the small “Catholic” churches that exist in many American cities, rebel congregations that are often led by “priests” who left the church to get married. Some also include women who have been ordained, to one degree or another. These churches clash with Rome on all of the usual “doctrinal” issues linked to the Sexual Revolution.

Yes, please note the presence of scare quotes around some of the key words in the previous sentences, words like “Catholic” and “ordained.” If you add scare quotes of this kind you offend one group of readers. If you do not use them, you offend another. There is no way around this reality.

As you would expect, Diamant’s story includes all kinds of material that will tick off faithful Roman Catholics who remain members of traditional Roman Catholic parishes. Then again, the new alternative Catholics or catholics believe that their version of the faith is just as faithful as the faith demanded by the Vatican.

Is the pope Catholic? Who knows? What is a “Catholic worldview” anyway? If you join something called the “Inclusive Community,” are you still a “Catholic”?

The Inclusive Community meets in a small chapel of a Congregational church, has a $16,000 budget, and draws maybe 15 people most Sundays. In those ways, it is similar to most “underground” churches, said Kathleen Kautzer, a professor at Regis College in Weston, Mass.

It’s unclear how many “underground” Catholic churches are in the United States. Most are small, many unstable. They lack networks and are often unpublicized, so no one knows whether they are increasing or decreasing in number. Kautzer estimated that there are 200 and that they probably attract much less than 1 percent of the 67 million American Catholics. That is a small number, considering that polls show significant opposition to church teachings on contraception, abortion, divorce and priestly celibacy.

Still, in the aftermath of the clergy sex abuse scandal, these churches offer a different path from the one taken by most Catholic reformers, who have sought — unsuccessfully, so far — to change church rules and hierarchy. Most members of underground churches are “really liberal people who are divorced, gays and feminists,” Kautzer said.

Yes, yes, note the loaded use of the word “reformers.” You could also call them “protesters.” In fact as Diamant reports — too far into the story for my taste — you could also accurately call them Protestants. You see, this Inclusive Community has actually (the story says “technically”) joined the liberal-and-proud-of-it United Church of Christ. That means the members are Protestants. Of course, they could say they are Catholics and Protestants at the same time. But, wait, that would make them Episcopalians?

The point is that this story does nail down the key fact: At least some of the alternative Catholic flocks are now legally Protestant. I think that would make Pope Benedict XVI happy and sad at the same time.

P.S. The story did leave me with two major unanswered questions. Do these churches have bishops? How do you claim to be Catholic — big C — without a bishop? Also, what is the Vatican’s legal or technical view of the sacraments offered by the men who were once ordained? I mean, a priest is always a priest, even if he is an inactive priest. Right? That might have been interesting to explore in a sidebar.

Photo: Spiritus Christi Church

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A must-get gig at Mother Jones

regretIn preparation for the 34th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, The New York Times Sunday Magazine had a lengthy feature on how post-abortion syndrome doesn’t exist. I’m sure you are as shocked as I am that the paper would come down quickly and easily on this side of the debate.

Emily Bazelon of Slate penned the piece. She has written for Mother Jones, too! Just like Jack Hitt, who wrote a previous (problematic) abortion story for the magazine. One of Bazelon’s stories for that magazine was — wait for it — against a feminist pro-life group. Seriously, if anyone wants to write for The New York Times Sunday Magazine, bolster your leftist credentials. Mother Jones seems to be the surest fire stop on your path.

Also, Emily Bazelon is Betty Friedan‘s cousin. I love it. A sample of the evenhanded perspective of the author:

Abortion-recovery counselors like [Rhonda] Arias could focus on why women don’t have the material or social support they need to continue pregnancies they might not want to end. They could call for improving the circumstances of women’s lives in order to reduce the number of abortions. Instead they are working to change laws to restrict and ban abortion.

See, pro-lifers don’t really care about women.

Anyway, the piece is long but not terribly illuminating. What pro-lifers are going to read such lines and feel their perspective is being given the benefit of the doubt? What pro-choicers will read the same without feeling a sense of self-satisfaction? What has been gained by that little swipe that is, in my experience, completely inaccurate in any case?

Bazelon tracks precisely one woman — Rhonda Arias — who says abortion was bad for her — and only very lightly, in the context of how the same woman now is an evangelical minister who counsels and ministers to other post-abortive women in prison. She gives lots of details about the woman — her past abortions, her preaching style, her emotional religiosity, her messed up childhood, etc. — and yet because the perspective of the author is so clear, it makes it hard to trust that her descriptions are in good faith. Rather, I kept wondering why this was the woman Bazelon chose as her lead/only anecdote. Bazelon also mentions the religious affiliations, mostly Roman Catholic, of many of those working to counsel women after their abortions.

What annoys me more than anything in abortion coverage is how the stories are always so political. This story is entirely political — about the politics of the abortion movement and (without realizing it, it seems) about the politics of the science surrounding whether post-abortion syndrome exists. And the reporter takes precisely the angle you would expect from The New York Times Sunday Magazine. I’ll note that it’s not the same angle I’d expect from the daily Times.

Like most people (statistically speaking) I have many friends who have had abortions. And while the vast majority of these friends remain pro-choice, they would be the first to tell you that the procedure’s effects are profound and long-reaching. Not so long ago, I was privy to a conversation with four pro-choice women who had their first or only abortions over a decade ago. They all spoke of effects that remained with them: Abortion-related nightmares, frequent thoughts of how old their child would be, etc. None of these women are pro-life. But because of the politics surrounding abortion, their situation — shared by millions of American women — receives no balanced coverage. Such after-effects are picked up on as proof of abortion’s evils by pro-lifers and ignored for the same reason by pro-choicers.

Bazelon does mention this in her piece, for which she should be commended:

While it seems that some anti-abortion advocates exaggerate the mental-health risks of abortion, some abortion advocates play down the emotional aftereffects. Materials distributed at abortion clinics and on abortion-rights Web sites stress that most women feel relief after an abortion, and that the minority who don’t tend to have pre-existing problems. Both claims are supported by research. But the idea that “abortion is a distraction from underlying dynamics,” as Nancy Russo put it to me, can discourage the airing of sadness and grief. “The last thing pro-choice people, myself included, want to do is to give people who want to make abortions harder to get or illegal one iota of help,” says Ava Torre-Bueno, a social worker who was the head of counseling for 10 years at Planned Parenthood in San Diego. “But then what you hear in the movement is ‘Let’s not make noise about this’ and ‘Most women are fine, I’m sure you will be too.’ And that is unfair.”

In general, Bazelon’s treatment of how pro-choicers deal — or don’t deal — with post-abortion problems is infinitely better than her emotionally distant and lengthier treatment of the same on the pro-life side. She’s able to look at some of the pitfalls of ignoring emotional problems resulting from abortion with a gentleness and sympathy that is illuminating. While that’s a wonderful benefit for readers in learning one side of the story, the problems are only emphasized for readers wanting to learn more about the other side. I think it may be yet another argument for ensuring that Mother Jones isn’t on the resume of all your abortion reporters.

Ultimately, though, the problem is with this story’s emphasis on politics. A story like this has to include actual women. How many tens of millions of women have undergone abortions in the last 34 years since abortion was legalized? How many of them could share the true effects — subtle or profound — of their abortions years after the fact?

This is why I still think so fondly of Stephanie Simon’s twin stories about women who undergo abortions and women who complete crisis pregnancies. Very little politics at all — just stories about the decisions women face and the choices they make.

How much more interesting would this story have been if Bazelon — a talented and smart writer for sure — had talked to women who had abortions and told their stories?

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The pro-life Democrat and the archbishop

BillRitterThe 2006 elections were marked in part by the successes of more than a few pro-life Democrats. Some have wondered how their rhetoric will match up with their voting records. When the House passed a recent bill to expand federal funding of stem-cell research that destroys embryos, 16 pro-life Democrats, including the newly elected Heath Shuler, joined 158 Republicans in voting against it.

Bill Ritter, the new governor of my home state of Colorado, also ran as a pro-life Democrat. But in his State of the State address, he announced plans to restore state funds to clinics that perform abortions, without funding the abortions themselves. The Denver Post‘s religion reporter Eric Gorski wrote about how Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput feels about the plan (he’s not a fan) and Ritter’s defense of same. It’s easy in a story like this to demonize Chaput or Ritter, but Gorski gives both camps their say and refrains from weighing one side over the other:

Only family-planning groups that show they can segregate state funds from money spent on abortions would be eligible, [Ritter spokesman Evan] Dreyer said. An amendment to the state’s constitution forbids the use of state dollars to subsidize abortion directly or indirectly.

“The archbishop and the governor agree on certain aspects of this issue,” Dreyer said. “The governor believes strongly it is good public policy to attempt to reduce unintended pregnancies, and that is his goal.”

Calling out Ritter is in keeping with Chaput’s belief that Catholic politicians must adhere to church teachings in their public life in order to remain true to the faith. The Denver prelate has gained a national reputation for his willingness to speak out.

Chaput wrote his thoughts out in a column for the Denver Catholic Register. Rather than quoting only from the parts critical of Ritter — as many reporters would do — Gorski mentions that Chaput praised Ritter’s desire to improve health care and education and that he lauded the “good will, good sense and hope” contained in the State of the State speech. He also mentions that Chaput noted Ritter’s “engaged and active” Catholic faith and Chaput didn’t question Ritter’s pro-life credentials during the campaign.

Still, Chaput wonders whether it will be possible to segregate state funds from abortion services under the new plan:

“What his words do actually mean will become clear in the demands he places on Planned Parenthood for proof that state funds truly are segregated from abortion services and don’t materially support the killing of unborn children,” Chaput wrote.

But Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains may not seize the opportunity if the restrictions are lifted, given the high costs of restructuring to meet the state’s demands and other factors, said spokeswoman Kate Horle.

She said Planned Parenthood also would be reluctant to take resources from smaller clinics statewide that currently receive state money for family planning.

“While I recognize it’s Bishop Chaput’s religious prerogative to want to believe Planned Parenthood somehow wants to increase the abortion rate in Colorado — which is what he implies — what we have always done is try to make sure every child is a wanted and a loved child,” Horle said.

I’m not sure I excerpted the best parts — so I encourage you to read the whole story. Gorski got good quotes from all concerned parties and enlightened readers about a complex topic. There are politicians of all stripes and religious leaders of all stripes. Reporters should make sure they don’t just rely on politicians’ self-descriptions or religious leaders’ analysis when covering religion in public life.

Photo via Bouldair on Flickr.

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What about the two Buddhists?

hank johnsonThe Washington Post ran a short story on page A17 Friday about the religious makeup of the 110th Congress that highlighted the record-high number of Jewish lawmakers.

Reporter Elizabeth Williamson also mentions the other Congress members within the Judeo-Christian tent, but for the most part she focuses on the high number of Jewish Democrats:

About 2 percent of Americans identify themselves as Jewish. But in Congress, the proportion of Jewish members is now four times that. Six new Jewish House members were sworn in last week, bringing the total to 30. In the Senate, the 13 Jewish members include freshmen Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) and Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), according to the National Jewish Democratic Council.

Other faith-related facts: This Congress includes its first Muslim member and, in Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.), its highest-ranking Mormon ever. Catholics remain the largest single faith group in Congress, at about 30 percent — slightly larger than their proportion of the U.S. population. Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians outnumber Jewish members, who outnumber Episcopalians.

In making its count, the NJDC, which bills itself as the national voice of Jewish Democrats, counted only those lawmakers who identify themselves as Jewish. (So even if he had won, Virginia’s George Allen wouldn’t have made the cut.)

mazie hironoI know everyone finds it deliciously ironic that George Allen found out amid a heady campaign that his family background was Jewish, but it’s not the first time this happened to a politician. A more prominent but less local character for the Post to highlight would be John Kerry.

The article mentions that GOP attempts to court Jewish votes have been to no avail. This is true for many reasons — much of what Republicans believe goes against what a majority of Jews believe — but there’s also the Republican Party in Texas:

Pollsters say the GOP failed to counter Jewish voters’ opposition to Republican stands on issues such as reproductive rights, stem cell research and the Iraq war. And then there’s the Republican Party platform in President Bush’s home state of Texas, which has declared the United States to be a Christian nation.

The religious politics of Republican Texans is a tip-of-the-iceberg issue when it comes to Jews’ hesitancy to vote Republican. There’s a much bigger story there, but a party platform declaring the United States to be exclusively Christian is a good place to start.

One of our readers, Jason Pitzl-Waters, noted and linked to this piece pointing out that this Congress has the nation’s two first Buddhist members, a detail missing from the Post article. What gives? Hank Johnson and Mazie Hirono deserve at least a mention. The New York Times‘ Caucus blog mentioned it a few weeks ago amid the Koran hubbub. That’s one of the only references I’ve seen to Hirono and Johnson’s religious beliefs.

Why did the Post editors overlook Hirono and Johnson? Perhaps they’ll revisit it later in a Style section piece?

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Argue with Andrew Sullivan this time

baby angelOK, consider this a short update on our comments-page arguments about whether public debates about abortion are, in and of themselves, a “religious” matter.

It’s poignant to watch this debate, and others linked to it, lived out in real life and covered in the news stories that result.

In this case, don’t yell at me — yell at Andrew Sullivan. It is clear to me (at least) that he has spotted a religion ghost — ethical ghost? moral ghost? — in a New York Times piece about abortion.

Or is it about abortion? That’s the point. Here is the item on Sullivan’s Time blog:

The Culling Continues
09 Jan 2007 11:57 am

Today’s NYT piece on doctors’ urging more comprehensive testing for Down Syndrome fetuses omits one obvious fact: the reason for such testing. Which is to kill them in utero, of course. Why leave this out? Isn’t it the crux of the story? And no mention of the 90 percent figure for abortions after DS detection. Do the NYT’s editors believe readers cannot handle the truth?

This follows another Sullivan post on the same topic and, ultimately, for this voice on the gay-activist side of the Catholic church aisle, leads to another topic looming in the background — the possible abortion of unborn gay children at some point in the medical future. Sullivan recently aired his views on that topic in one of his essays for The Times of London.

Does this sound like a far-fetched idea to you?

I’ve been asking questions about this possible link between the two hottest of hot social issues since the mid-1980s, when I raised it during a press conference in Denver with then-Democratic Rep. Patricia Schroeder. I asked her if, in the future, she expected to see scientific evidence that people are born gay. She said that she did. I then asked if she thought this implied there would be a gay gene that, sooner or later, would show up in prenatal testing. She said she assumed that this would happen. So I asked her if she would, at that time, oppose the abortion of gay fetuses. She did not want to answer that question and one of her staff rushed over to say that they would have to deal with that when the time came.

Sullivan thinks that issue is coming sooner or later (while I think the nature-nurture debate will be much harder to settle) and that we can see evidence of the outcome in the Down Syndrome trends. If he is right, that is a huge story and one that, when the story breaks, will be debated in strongly religious terms. Sullivan and the pope will be on the same side of that debate, correct?

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Judy Woodruff talks to some of us kids

Judy WoodruffJudy Woodruff has us kids figured out. In her documentary Generation Next: Speak Up, Be Heard, the veteran broadcaster took a segment to explore the issue of religion with 16- to 25-year-olds. I can’t say I am a big fan of the documentary’s methodology, but it has its redeeming qualities.

First of all, a person’s views change a great deal between the ages of 16 and 25. Most Americans during that period of their lives finish high school, go through college and experience the first three years of their post-graduate career (disclaimer: I am 25). How can you compare a demographic with that type of range?

Second, the episode seems to rely heavily on examples and draws large conclusions based on a handful of statistics. For instance, the show includes a stat from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life that said 44 percent of young Americans agree that religion is a very important in their lives. But a survey by the Barna Group found that 60 percent of 20-somethings who had religious teenage years are now disengaged.

Then you have 60 percent of young folk feeling that conservative Christians have gone way too far in “trying to impose” their religious values on America.

You can see what kind of picture Woodruff is painting for us here, can’t you? And it’s all supported by examples, but what do those statistics really mean?

Here is Woodruff talking to Byron Johnson of Baylor University to get an idea of whether these young people will affect the future:

BYRON JOHNSON: It will be interesting to see if the young will be able to have influence over middle-aged and older evangelicals. It wouldn’t surprise me if that happened, to be candid.

Some of these issues are really — young people have grown up thinking about them. And older Americans are now struggling with them.

And so, you know, over time, it’s hard to say how this will play out, but I would assume that, as young Americans become middle-aged Americans, their views on those will probably not lessen at all. So it may be more representative in the future of an evangelical position on social justice issues that kind of goes more left.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Will Generation Next’s views on social issues have a transformational impact on religion and, in turn, politics? Or, as they mature, will they follow in the footsteps of their parents? This issue is something both religious and political leaders will be following as 2008 approaches.

Whatever happened to the old saying misattributed to Winston Churchill that “If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain”? Before doing a series on the “next generation,” a reporter should go look at the series written on their own generation, if they did them back then. (Did they?)

Perhaps it is a generational thing. Maybe this generation I’ve been lumped into is really not special compared to past generations? Even Woodruff considers the possibility in this interview with Jim Lehrer:

So, I mean, you’ve got young people across this country who are thinking a whole lot harder about what the problems are, what ought to be done, than we give them credit for.

I’m not going to sit here, though, and tell you that every single one of them is passionate. Some of them are just focused on paying their bills, paying off their college loans, keeping a job, getting a job.

Notice Woodruff’s qualification regarding the thinking young people. They do it a whole lot more “than we give them credit for,” says Woodruff. Who is “we”? I’d like to consider myself passionate about some things. But I’m also concerned about the more practical stuff she mentions, like jobs and money.

As for the religious trends this episode attempts to establish, it’s awfully wishy-washy to lead off half of the subheads with the word “some” because you could say just about anything about a generation if you just wanted to include the minimal number of one that would qualify as “some”:

Some choose new religious tradition

Some lose interest in old structure

Woodruff uses the word “some” or variations seven times in her interview with Lehrer and 14 times in the documentary segment.

I think it’s fair to say that some parts of this series are interesting and even revealing. But I think some of our readers may agree that the paucity of specifics and generous use of generalizations is frustrating.

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