Friday, November 17, 2006

WKRN Reports Unfounded Allegations of AU Partiality

Originally published at Free Tennessee:

While introducing his coverage of a story that has been in the news for over two weeks now, News 2 Religion and Ethics reporter Jamey Tucker said of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State:

Now a group often accused of being critical only of churches supporting Republican candidates is turning in a church for supporting Harold Ford, Jr.

Those accusations were not the subject matter of the report, so there was no journalistic justification for inserting that pejorative comment.

However, let us assume that the accusations might be germane.  If so, then Mr. Tucker failed to substantiate those accusations with proof that AU is only critical of "churches supporting Republican candidates."  There is no evidence of fact-checking AU's record or the conclusions of any independent study of AU's actions.

More fact-checking would have lead Mr. Tucker to discover that those accusations are unfounded.  According to a November 6, 2006 AU press release four other congregations were reported to the IRS by AU. Two churches were involved in Democratic candidate endorsements; two churches were involved in Republican candidate endorsements.  According to AU's reports, more churches (three) leaning toward Democratic endorsements have been reported to the IRS than have those (two) leaning toward Republican endorsements.

UPDATE: Jamey Tucker has clarified the statement in question at WKRN's website.  He says that he was intending "to inform the viewer that even though the group is often criticized for only going after evangelical churches that support Republican candidates, that criticism is false."

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