Some fellow named Dean Baquet, New York Times Executive Editor, was holding forth about the election on your tax-dollar-supported NPR (Slogan: You have to pay, but you have no say), and Baquet said, “I think that the New York-based, and Washington-based too, probably, media powerhouses don’t quite get religion. We have a fabulous religion writer, but she’s all alone. We don’t get religion. We don’t get the role of religion in people’s lives.”
He’s right. The State media doesn’t get religion; which is to say, since this is the USA, it doesn’t get Christianity. And the reason for the incomprehension is not far to seek.
Most journalists aren’t Christians. Practicing, believing Christians, that is. There are a lot of Jewish writers at the New York Times and similar venues, it’s true, but they’re so “reformed” that their religion is at best vestigial. Religion isn’t personally important to most reporters. It then follows that if a person doesn’t think something is important to them, they won’t think it’s especially important to others or to their countrymen.
They’ll even suppose, as is human, that their non-religious point of view is superior, and thus to be preferred. Which is why they shy from Christians. At least, the ones who really believe.
It’s increasingly Us vs. Them. David Bernstein at the Washington Post noticed. “To what can we attribute Trump’s success? The most logical answer is that religious traditionalists felt that their religious liberty was under assault from liberals, and they therefore had to hold their noses and vote for Trump.”
Religious traditionalists didn’t just “feel” their liberty was under assault from “liberals” and Tolerants, they knew it was. They knew the one thing Diversity mavens could not tolerate was diversity. If Hillary would have won, many secular “activists” would have interpreted her victory as a mandate to shut out any remaining traditionalist voices.
In short, many religious Christians of a traditionalist bent believed that liberals not only reduce their deeply held beliefs to bigotry, but want to run them out of their jobs, close down their stores and undermine their institutions.
Bernstein thinks this attitude will cost liberals the Supreme Court majority (via Trump). He might be right, but it’s not sure money.
Others were quick to notice Baquet’s admission. David French from National Against Trump Review, for instance.
The original sin of religion reporting is the failure to believe what religious people say. There’s always an “other” reason for their actions.
In much coverage of American Christianity, this mindset is obvious: You believe that God ordained marriage as the union of a man and a woman? Well, that’s just bigotry in search of a belief system, religion wielded as a club against the marginalized.
What was it nominal Christian Antony Kennedy said about “irrational animus”? Poor fellow didn’t understand loving Reality is not equivalent to hating people.
Then there’s the third sin: the belief that a good Google search or a quick Wikipedia read transforms a reporter into a theologian. Few things are more irritating than the argument that, “If you really believed the Bible then you’d…” followed by a theological interpretation of such profound stupidity that you’d be embarrassed for the reporter if he or she had an ounce of shame.
Atheists are prone to strict literal interpretation of the Bible. Even after it’s been pointed out to them that nobody believes the interpretation they’re pushing. Once again, this is human nature. Short cuts are easier than in-depth investigation. Lastly:
A reporter doesn’t have to be religious to “get” religion. I’ve known atheists who understand Christians quite well. But in my experience, secular reporters are selectively credulous. They’ll accept at face value a secular activist’s motivations and question their sincerity only when presented with evidence of opportunism. But when it comes time to extend the same charity to a Christian, they either can’t or won’t discard their skepticism that he truly believes the tenets of a faith that they find to be repressive nonsense.
It’s not always follow-the-money. Especially in matters of morals, it’s follow-the-heart. And Reason. Non-believers can’t believe believers believe what they profess to believe. So, as above, they don’t seek out the why of that belief.
If they did, they’d realize some beliefs are non-negotiable. This is why, as French understood, the Culture Wars are not over. And never will be.