It was every intention of mine to write articles strictly on this election. It looked like it would be interesting. Technologically, it is different. Some have started calling it “Election 2.0” and some of the issues at stake during this season seem vital. I certainly didn’t mean to start my column off on religious issues. And yet religious issues and political issues sometimes are linked, as some of the infighting during the present election cycle shows.
That media bias isn’t always political was recently demonstrated to me by a friend. She is just starting her career in communications and journalism. She has interned in several places and written quite a few articles while getting her A.S. degree with A’s, and working on her occupational journalism certificate. She’s even managed to do some good interviews while working as the Religion Editor for the school newspaper.
In one article, she managed to do an interview with the actor Kirk Cameron, who played Mike Seaver in the television show Growing Pains. Kirk Cameron was saved after he left the show, and became a Christian evangelist, marrying his television show girlfriend. The article is interesting, light, and with an interview of someone I haven’t seen before. If you like religious or human interest pieces or news on what happened to a Hollywood actor, then you’d probably like this article.
And that should be the end of the story. Graduate, A student, intern at multiple newspapers, gets occupational certificate while finishing school year with a fabulous interview. Sounds great, but that isn’t what happened. It seems this particular school uses a “jury” composed of local news media personnel, and 4 out of the 9 jurors didn’t pass her, two specifically citing her article on Kirk Cameron as being too Christian.
Yes, that’s right; the majority of the jury passed her. The article was already published in the school’s newspaper that was awarding the certificate. The A had already been earned. It was an article for the religion section. It was about a Christian evangelist, which means it has to have a Christian in it. No matter, 4 out of the 9 jurors didn’t like it, and apparently religious bigotry counts as an extra vote, so she was denied the certificate.
So the American Center for Law & Justice got involved, who fights this sort of thing, and sent the school a letter (See link below). So instead of getting something she had worked hard for, she got this, for interviewing a Hollywood star turned evangelist. And at a two year college over an occupational certificate that is just normally given out to anyone. Quite frankly, I think the interview was above the two year college newspaper level. In any case, the dislike of the content should not have played any role in judgment of journalistic ability of the writer. The articles were already published by the newspapers to which they were submitted. Content has to be hands off on deciding who is a journalist. If it is not, the media will be biased, by definition.
Sometimes we forget what we are fighting for in politics. I always thought we were fighting for a good country where we could raise families, cook apple pies, and play baseball in parks. Where people’s opinions are tolerated and harmless pieces about someone’s lifestyle isn't used as a cause to hate, but diversity and love of others are respected, and is in fact, part of the culture of the land, and something needed for freedom. What causes a bunch of reporters to attack an aspiring twenty year old journalist for writing about an ex-TV star anyway? That type of bias isn’t the America I love, the land of the free.
And this brings us back to politics. The media has been known for being biased for a long time. The bias isn’t always political. It’s also been known as being biased religiously. I’ve seen in depth articles on the life of those of Jewish beliefs, and Muslims, and other faiths including Christian. I’ve never been offended at any of them for being too religious. In fact, I’ve often enjoyed them, and they frequently gave me the opportunity to learn about something new. Apparently, not everyone feels this way; because an article on a well known television star turned Christian is attacked by people in the media business, because it is an article about a Christian evangelist. Writing articles about different lifestyles helps create tolerance and peace, while censuring helps to engender hostility towards the group not understood.
Bigotry is a bad thing. America thrives when tolerance thrives. America’s religious foundations were composed of small groups of adherents with diverse opinions, such as the Separatists, the Puritans, Pilgrims, Quakers, Baptists, and many other groups. It couldn’t have worked without respect for the rights of others to form opinions, tolerance, and dare I say it, love for others without requiring absolute agreement in all things in the heavens and on earth! After all, Philadelphia, the pre-eminent city from our colonial formation period, was known as the city of brotherly love (which is what the name means when it is translated from Greek).
Another way you might view this is America is the home of small religion and the small church, as opposed to big religion. I’d suggest that big religion is a lot like big government. The two go hand in hand, and from the days of Rome, through the middle ages and the divine rights of kings to this day are often seen walking together. Likewise, tolerance and respect for the opinions of others goes well with freedom.
Even the separation of church and state was originally a concept from the small church school. It was found in the writings of Roger Williams, the first American Baptist, who wrote a lot on the subject, including why you shouldn’t kill people for their beliefs (for instance his book: “The Bloody Tenant, Of Persecution for Cause of Conscience”). Later, the exact phrase separation of church and state was found in a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to a group of Baptists. And it still seems to me that this basic idea that big religion and big government tend to go hand and hand, and you should separate them, and not have state established religion, is very basic to the idea of being an American. Like a foreign policy which is composed of freedom, peace, commerce, and honest friendship towards other countries, the same principles applied on an individual level also seem to work.
The foreign policy we’re currently applying to other countries isn’t that policy, and it hasn't been working. Likewise, the policy we’re applying to others in our society isn’t working on a cultural level either. There is nothing wrong with peace and loving your neighbor.
Matthew 5:9 says “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God”. Alas, no telling what would happen if you quoted a passage of scripture in a religious section of a newspaper, because the media is biased against peace on earth, and mercy mild.Link to ACLJ article: http://www.aclj.org/TrialNotebook/Read.aspx?id=569 Tweet