Thursday, November 16, 2006

News 2 to Run Story Called "Demonization of Faith"

Originally published at Free Tennessee:

WKRN Religion and Ethics reporter Jamey Tucker says on his blog that he is working on a story to be broadcast on tomorrow night's 10:00 newscast that he is calling the "Demonization of Faith."  The blog post seems to be an introduction to the story and Mr. Tucker seems to allude to the thrust:

Some of my posts, even the more innocuous ones have been criticized from people accusing me of proselytizing, when the post only links to a newspaper article. The comments seem to be not just directed at the post, but at Christianity and maybe the idea that a tv reporter is reporting on religion, faith and Christianity.

But are Christians in America really under attack? Are Christians in America really being persecuted? The thing is, for Christians, being persecuted is a badge of honor. Paul said so, so it must be so. If someone isn't persecuting us for being a Christian, we're not doing something right. So we want to the world to criticize us. No, that desire may not manifest itself in our daily M-F lives, but deep down we know to be living the faith, persecution is to be expected.

If Mr. Tucker is suggesting that he is being persecuted for merely reporting on Christian faith, then I find that alarming.  I perceive a slant in his reporting.  I point that out.  Criticizing a journalist for showing bias or fluff in reporting is hardly persecution.  And so criticizing is hardly an attack on faith.

Christians around the world disappear, get tortured, are murdered, are detained and censored for standing by their principles.  That is real persecution.  For Mr. Tucker to insinuate that he and the Christians who are his subjects are persecuted by simply being criticized cheapens the whole notion of persecution and it hurts those who actually are persecuted.

Even more troubling are Mr. Tucker's strongly-held us-versus-them views of Christians and American culture (which seem to strengthen my perception that he sees himself and his subjects as persecuted):

Christians do have a right to feel like they're being wronged by our culture today. A very large percentage of Christians grew up in an age when school teachers taught the ABCs with Bible verses. We said the pledge of allegiance (the one with "under God" still in it) before the Lord's prayer every morning when the school bell rang. TV shows, while not Christian, certainly displayed many of the Christian values we try to hold ourselves to. Back then, no one ever said anything negative about the church or church people (except those whispers about the preacher's kid).

This would appear to be the crux of what Mr. Tucker calls the "demonization of faith."  And faith here is not Christian faith in general or in its many different forms.  Mr. Tucker is talking about Christians as if there is only one kind:  the evangelical right-wingers who are upset when religion is not established in public schools.

Promoting a certain brand of devotional religion rather than critically and objectively reporting on it is one of the things for which I have criticized Jamey Tucker in the past.  Once again, Mr. Tucker seems headed toward a subject with a mind that will not be opened any farther than his assumptions about religion will allow.  If he cannot get past his preconceived notions about normative Christianity, then News 2 should change his title to "Evangelical Faith and Ethics Public Relations Specialist."  Either way, Tucker should stop speaking and writing about Christians as if we are monolithic.

Tune in to News 2 (Nashville area) on Friday night at 10:00 and judge for yourself.  But if his preliminary comments about persecution are any indicator, then we are in for another story biased by a religious right-wing point of view.

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