Friday, January 05, 2007

News 2 Provides No Balance in Story on Muslim Congressman

Originally published at Free Tennessee:

Despite diverse responses to a decision made by Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison--the first Muslim in Congress--to take his ceremonial oath on Thomas Jefferson's copy of the Qu'ran instead of the Bible, WKRN Faith and Ethics reporter Jamey Tucker runs with a report on local reaction to Ellison that exclusively documents the negative response of one conservative Madison pastor.  Pastor Charles Cowen told Tucker:
America, the United States, being founded on the Christian principles, I believe that we should continue to put our hand on that Bible ....  [Tucker interjects that those like Rev. Cowan see Ellison's oath-swearing as "another example" of Christian principles "eroding away"] If we mix all of this together then somewhere with the persecution that's happening in our country today, where God and Jesus and Christianity's concerned, that that would get pushed totally to the background.
Tucker selected a pastor who clearly leans toward a theocratic view of government, but he never bothered to clarify in the story what Christian principles were being eroded.
Rev. Cowen's church subscribes to the principle of New Testament infallibility.  The Pentecostal Bible School that the pastor graduated from emphasizes its own controversial history of faith healing, speaking in tongues, and what is popularly referred to as the "success gospel" (e.g., the belief that God multiplies blessings on those who give money).  So, it seems that the person at the center of Tucker's interview has himself a rather extreme religious background to which other Christians could object.

As with previous stories, Jamey Tucker's story overloads the picture of local response with one ultra-conservative point of view and without any prevailing alternative.  That leaves the impression that there are no alternative responses to actions that Republican Senator Lindsey Graham called "swearing allegiance to a document consistent with [one's] faith."

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