The media’s religion deficit
Evidence of big media’s bias against religion that doesn’t advance the secular and liberal agenda of the Democratic Party is beyond dispute. Any faith attached to a conservative agenda is to be ridiculed, stereotyped and misrepresented. Islam is a notable exception. The media appear to bend over backward not to offend Muslims.
The Washington Post on Monday, reporting from Carrollton, Ark., uncovered an event that occurred nearly 155 years ago and then sought to link it to the presidential candidacy of Mitt Romney: “On Sept. 11, 1857, a wagon train from this part of Arkansas met with a gruesome fate in Utah, where most of the travelers were slaughtered by a Mormon militia in an episode known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre.”
The Romney connection? “There aren’t many places in America more likely to be suspicious of Mormonism — and potentially problematic for Mitt Romney, who is seeking to become the country’s first Mormon president.”
As Carrollton, Ark., goes, so goes the nation? Would the Post question the legitimacy and faith of a Muslim candidate for Congress, or any office, because of 9-11? Do you even have to ask? Should the Spanish Inquisition reflect on a Catholic candidate?
Since Jimmy Carter announced during the 1976 presidential campaign that he was a born-again Christian, the media have been fascinated by religion, but not so much that they would labor to understand it.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is a devout Mormon, but Reid gets a media pass on his faith because he toes the line on the secular left’s agenda, from abortion to same-sex marriage, which Reid endorsed last week. That his church teaches the opposite of the way he votes doesn’t appear to concern him.
Senator Orrin Hatch, also a Mormon, is running for re-election in Utah. Hatch is less scary to the media because he made friends with the late Senator Ted Kennedy with whom he occasionally cooperated on legislation.
Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, a devout Catholic, opposes the death penalty, as does the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholic Church also opposes the “death penalty” for the unborn, but Cuomo challenged the Church’s position on abortion in his speech at Notre Dame in 1984 titled “Religious Belief and Public Morality: A Catholic Governor’s Perspective.” Why did no reporter press Cuomo on his “cafeteria theology”? Answer: Because his positions on the death penalty and abortion reflect the views of most in big media.
The questions reporters should be asking Mitt Romney are not about his style of worship or about Mormon theology, but rather which of his church’s beliefs he thinks are connected to earthly policies and which ones, if any, he will attempt to implement should he become president.
On her Washington Post blog, Jennifer Rubin says the media has a “Mormon Obsession”: “In sum, the left’s obsession with Romney’s faith tells us more about their ignorance of faithful people of all religions than anything else. ... Whether born of ignorance (i.e. that other faiths don’t share these essential values) or rank bias or intention to paint Romney as weird, the definition of Romney as nothing more than a Mormon stick figure is pernicious in our political culture and begs the question: Why is the media entirely uninterested in Obama’s religious influences, and indeed has dubbed such discussion racist?”
Journalists and media organizations should be required to take advanced religion courses so that they can better understand faith, explain it accurately and ask the right questions of candidates who believe in an Authority higher than the state.
[Cal Thomas is America’s most widely syndicated op-ed columnist, appearing in more than 600 national newspapers. He is the author of more than 10 books and is a FOX News political contributor since 1997. Email Cal Thomas at email@example.com.] ©2012 TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.