As an Evangelical in the media, I’m sympathetic to the struggle journalists have with reporting on our peculiar tradition. When simply defining what the term “Evangelical” means poses a challenge, it can be difficult to know how to report on shared beliefs within Evangelicalism, much less the on the more controversial sub-movements within the tradition.
The BBC news magazine recently ran a feature on the Quiverfull movement, though, that had me taking notes on how to do it right. Here are a few Journalism 101 tips about reporting on religious trends that I gleaned from the article:
1. Explain the movement in terms its adherents would agree with. – The BBC provides some helpful background by mentioning the term “Quiverfull” comes from Psalm 127:
The psalm – where children are compared to arrows for war – is the inspiration for the Quiverfull movement.
“Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They shall not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.”
Christians in the movement believe in giving up all forms of contraception and accepting as many children as God gives, both as a sign of obedience to God and in a bid to ensure the future of the faith.
2. Explain why the movement is newsworthy. – Almost any genuine religious trend is worthy of coverage, but the average reader should be given some reason for caring enough to read the article. The BBC provides a helpful, succinct explanation:
In the US, Quiverfull families frequently reach up to a dozen children with the numbers of adherents in the tens of thousands. But now the movement is gaining popularity in other countries.
In the UK, where the average family size is 1.7 children, this makes couples who follow its teachings stand out.