- List All

  • Web   The Point


+ Theology/Religion + Culture + Marriage & Family + Politics + Academia + Human Rights
Christianity Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory
Religion Blogs - Blog Top Sites
Link With Us - Web Directory

« Open book thread | Main | Daily roundup »

October 31, 2008

Breaking News: Evangelicals Missing

According to this article from a recent daily roundup, evangelicals are missing in most newsroom, resulting in a liberal bent, and misrepresentation of Christians, in mainstream news. Do you agree that there's the lack of diversity in the press? If so, is having more Christians in the newsroom the solution, or should we just accept the fact that the mainstream media will always be biased against Christians?

AddThis Social Bookmark Button


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Breaking News: Evangelicals Missing:



Since the MSM are private corporations, I don't know that we can change it, only compete with it.

If we are in for a totalitarian Chavezista revolution, the matter becomes moot.

If the web remains free, then podcasts and blogs are still ways for dissenters to communicate, assuming that dissenters will not be punished by the government.

It isn't that there aren't evangelical journalism graduates, but that the MSM are in the hands of those who beleive that the job of journalists is to be change-agents converting society from the one evangelicals want to a Euro-socialist model, so they simply don't hire the evangelicals.

Rachel Coleman

I've worked as a newspaper reporter, editor and columnist in a small midwestern community for 15 years. My observation about the lack of Christians in media? Evangelical Christians, for one thing, may not be less intelligent than the liberals who dominate in the media … but it sure seems like they don't know the difference between good writing and drivel, or between unbiased writing and outright propaganda.
Many believers are quick to point out the bias in MSM outlets -- and it's true, there is terrible slant. But for decades now, the Christian establishment has assumed a tit-for-tat approach is the solution; if the Sinful People employ dishonesty and propaganda, we can respond with our own slanted coverage.
Not only does this not work, it makes the problem worse. We've raised a couple generations of Christians who eagerly lap up those Amish-themed bodice-rippers (emotionally promiscuous if not so in the flesh) and prefer Thomas Kinkaid to Rembrandt. How are they going to get in there and compete for prestigious journalism jobs?
When so many Christian magazines, fiction and homeschooling resources are often so mediocre, I understand why nonChristians are contemptuous of us.
It's not church-p.c. to say this, and I don't mean to sound uncharitable. But discrimination and anti-God bias are not the only reasons "we" don't break in, and we are kidding ourselves when we cultivate a sense of victimhood.
The Breakpoint staff writers are the wonderful exception, and whenever I see those names on the bylines, I read with alacrity.
If only there was more of this insistence on excellence within our cozy Evangelical confines, we would see more committed believers in the ranks of the media. Think of Obediah in Ahab's court, Samuel growing up alongside Eli's wicked, shameless sons, Daniel, Esther, Paul among the Romans -- there's a host of witnesses that prove it is possible to be godly in the midst of depraved systems. But if you can't do the job well, don't expect the pagans to hire you in the first place.
Once we figure out how to equip talented Christian young people to major in journalism and excel, let's deploy young, brilliant believers to infiltrate the American Library Association!

Jason Taylor

One might wonder whether preferring Rembrandt to Kincaid is a journalism qualification. Was Ernie Pyle fond of Rembrandt and would he have preferred him to Kincaid? I have know idea.

Rachel Coleman

The point I'm making is that certain trends in Christian evangelical popular culture are just plain intellectually lazy. And when you transfer that unwillingness to think deeply (whether it's about art, politics or nutrition) to a profession that is supposed to examine everything closely, you can't reasonably expect excellence.
And, as I said, if you aren't interested in excellence, you have no hope of breaking into a snobby, left-leaning world like the media.
I myself like N.C. Wyeth for his pirates and Norman Rockwell for his homey sentiment -- just as much as I like more highbrow stuff.
I think you spelled Kincaid properly, whereas I got it wrong -- so this journalist should brush up on her forum fact-checking habits!

Rachel Coleman

Jason, in my zeal to uplift the cultural standards of mainstream Christians, I didn't even think much (shallowly or deeply) about your wrap-up questions above.
I'm going to give it a shot.
You asked, "Do you agree that there's the lack of diversity in the press? If so, is having more Christians in the newsroom the solution, or should we just accept the fact that the mainstream media will always be biased against Christians?"
Answer #1: Absolutely. And readers and listeners should speak up winsomely, via letters to the editor, email comments, etc. Someone should give out prizes for believers who manage to get their responses read aloud on NPR. Seriously!
Answer to #2: Yes, that would help -- but as I noted before, we have to step up our efforts. The Amy Foundation offers generous prize money to Christian writers who present Biblical truth in secular publications. I think their approach is strategic and smart. Patrick Henry College has a journalism program that looks promising. It might be helpful if we offered a caveat to would-be journalists that venturing into MSM will be like going to the mission field -- and it wouldn't hurt for them to approach it as such.
Answer to #3: I suppose we have to accept this fact, just as we accept Christ's "heads-up" to his followers that the world is going to hate us. But just as we aren't supposed to give up on the Christian walk, we shouldn't throw in the towel on being a voice in the wider world. At the same time, we should do our best to create parallel options for believers (not letting the world system limit or prevent us from communicating with each other) but we should not retreat to a cloistered life.
Above all, anyone interested in journalism ought to remember Micah's observation that God requires only a few basic things of us: to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with God.
My first post was not at all humble, and I'm glad you rapped my gently on the knuckles.

Jason and Elizabeth Ibrahim

I definitely think you have a point here. In fact, my wife and I feel so strongly about the points you mentioned that your comments stopped us dead in our tracks. We have also noticed a preoccupation with Christianizing, sanitizing and ripping off secular/pop products and media. I read a column once making the point that God is a creator; Satan is an imitator. When we produce low-quality work that mimics the world’s work, are we striving after God, or something else? When all of our energies are spent making it look almost exactly like the Nike swoosh, how much time do we have to be truly innovative? Ironically, we do all this in an attempt to reach the world, but if our second-class work is representing Christ, what kind of a witness is that?

In all fairness, I also need to say that we’ve seen equally poor quality in the MSM. Opinion columns by people who need to spend more time in journalism school, or hagiographies of Obama falsely advertised as news; these sorts of things often get a pass on the technical and quality standards simply because they contain the right buzzwords.

So what are we doing about it? To raise up people that can do quality work, we need to lead by example, producing work that is excellent AND unique. We know this is possible; we’ve been a part of it:

1. When evidence suggested that our state pro-life federation accepted a large sum of money from our pro-choice state senator, then endorsed him, we called him to account, unseating arguably the most powerful politician in our state. We used all media available to us: blogging, newspaper and radio.
2. When our good friend decided to become a real agent for change and run for city council, we wrote letters to the editor, catered an elegant fundraiser, and canvassed the city. The result? He received the most votes out of any council candidate in that election.
3. When this same friend wanted to create a community forum website, we helped him conceive, design and build it (http://www.ilovealtoona.com). We continue to participate by writing regular columns and special features.
4. Our children are very young, but we already have plans in mind for their future homeschooling. My wife was homeschooled K-12 and has first-hand experience with the slanted curriculum you mentioned. As an antidote, we’re hoping to use the Sonlight Curriculum (http://www.sonlight.com), which we believe meets our criteria for excellence.

As a family, we are doing what we can to address these issues. “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Jason Taylor

Rachel has more then a bit of a point about Evangelicals needing to be more intellectually qualified. It was never said "Blessed are the poor in wits, for there's is the Kingdom of Heaven".

On the other hand I spend enough time at sites where the snobby left-leaning crowd hangs out(like TV tropes, and Steve Jackson Games)to know that an Evangelical often can't be accepted no matter how suitable he is even by stated Liberal principles unless he is willing to make gestures which are essentially kowtowing. There is a reason why snobs are called snobs.

Then too, it is often fashionable these days to make intelligence almost a moral quality. In some ways this is justified: Proverbs praises the getting of knowledge. But to some degree the adulation of intelligence is simply an arbitrary conceit, no different in principle then the adulation of physical strength or lineage. You can tell from the people habitually talk. They will say things like, "Hitler was crazy". Now of course if a psychiatrist had examined him he likely would have been justified in pronouncing him mentally ill. But the key element about Hitler wasn't that he was crazy but that he was evil. Indeed the world is in many ways fortunate that he WAS crazy as that fact was not beneficial to the success of German arms. But the point is that many use terms that are supposed to rate intelligence for rating character which is giving intellectual standing more credit then it should have. Which is hardly good as when intelligence becomes hubris it is no longer intelligent.

So the question is, how does one draw the line between over-pariochialness on the one hand, and over-worldlyness(sometimes manifested in the overvalueing of intelligence) on the other? That is a tricky point and one that in fact predates Christianity and even predates Judaism. Several things can be remembered. One is that it is more important to be good then to be smart and more important still to be Godly(for one thing, if one is truly Godly, goodness will take care of itself). Another thing to remember is that not everyone is called to be a scholar, and it makes as little sense for an intellectual to berate someone for being unintellectual as it does for a plumber to berate someone for being unskilled at unclogging drains. On the other hand it behooves us to be able to hold our own, and having a Church that scorns intellectual activity sends about as good a message as sending Eric Liddel to Paris without knowing he could run.
Another point that comes up is that I at least have not been all that impressed by the intellectual qualifications of the MSM. I have seen so many palpable idiocies about their military reporting(which is an area which impinges on a journalists trade so much that ignorance is inexcusable)that I can hardly respect them to much in other fields. It may be that Evangelicals have anti-intellectual tendencies but I really don't think we need have such low self respect as to worry about the intellectual snobbery of journalists. That is rather like worrying about what movie stars have to say about my chastity, temperance, and frugality.
There are a lot of things to be said along that line and I have said enough for one post to be sure. Perhaps the most important thing is that it is always difficult to decide how much we should mingle and how much to keep ourselves separate. And that goes for learning as much as anything else.

Gina Dalfonzo

You've all made some excellent points. Rachel, I greatly appreciate your sharing your perspective as a journalist; you've offered several valuable insights. And Jason, having been burned a few times by the snobs myself -- including Christian snobs, which for my money are the worst kind -- I appreciate your points as well. (Dalfonzo's Theorem #2: The amount of snobbery a person displays is inversely proportional to the things he or she has to be snobbish about.)

These are some complex questions, and I don't know if I can express myself very clearly on the subject, but to my mind, we can best find the balance Jason speaks of when we are committed to pursuing excellence in our fields for the glory of God and the benefit of our fellow human beings whom He created. Because if you think about it like that, you know your gifts and skills are not ultimately your own, and they were not given to you for your own benefit. You're not doing what you do for the sake of your own ego. And, I think, when an evangelical is doing his or her best to keep the right balance and perspective, he or she can look at fellow evangelicals -- even those who are intellectually lazy -- and still recognize and appreciate their good qualities.

Some of the Christians who have been kindest to me have been Christians who, for their entertainment, read and listen to Christian fluff with little merit. I may have a justifiable problem with the Christian fluff, but I am kept humble when I look at these people and see what true spiritual giants they are, and what a spiritual midget I am beside them. "But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise."

One more thing, because it's been far too long since I brought Dalfonzo's Law into play. I've never worked within the mainstream media on a regular basis, but if I could nonetheless make one recommendation for all Christian journalists, I would suggest a thorough reading of the writings of Dorothy L. Sayers, with special emphasis on the quote I keep taped to my computer: "The only Christian work is good work done well."


There are plenty of very intelligent, well-educated Christians, both Catholic and Evangelical who can do a much better job of stringing words together than the 5th grade reading level inanities of the newspapers. Homeschooled children score very highly. They and the classically-educated Christians are far more literate and educated than your typical NPR-listener who prides himself on being "an intellectual."

There isn't a lack of supply, there is a lack of demand for Christian journalists.

Rachel Coleman

So many good points here -- it's exciting!

I did not mention in my post that my journalism work has been slowly pushed to the side over the years, as my husband and I homeschool our three children (going on 10 years now). That is work with far more eternal value than journalism, in my opinion.
We started with Sonlight and migrated to Veritas, both of which are viewed with some trepidation by many of our homeschool friends who tend to fall into the "nonsnobby mainstream evangelical" category, if we want to tread into that dangerous territory of categories. These are sweet, committed Christians who don't understand why I won't let my daughters read serial Christian romance novels.

Labrialum, I agree that many intelligent Christians can write better than much of the newspaper writing I see. My 13-year-old daughter can write better pieces than the journalism school graduates who end up in the newsroom I left to work from home. (The most recent arrival did not recognize the word "wont," as in "throwing dinner together in a hurry, as I am wont to do," in a column I wrote. I could not get the poor guy to understand it is a real word, and not at all the same as "want.") They are all giddy about tomorrow's election, which they presume will be won by the big O. Yet my publishers readily hands over nearly the same hourly wage to my column-writing daughter, because what she produces is of great value to him. There is hope for Christian journalists now and in the future.

Gina, I understand and agree with what you have to say about valuing our brothers and sisters regardless of their reading choices (or wall art). That goes to the issue of the law of love, doesn't it? And we should all remember Paul's remarks about God choosing the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and his warnings about people who are "ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the gospel." I love your theorum.

I think the igniting factor here is the sense of us, as believers, coming "under attack" by the culture at large. The more we contemplate that, the easier it is for us to default to positions that, because we all struggle with our fallen nature, incorporate wrong thinking. So I may fall into a pattern of scorn towards others and pride in my own brain; others may be prone to seeing "us" as victims and responding with self-pity; there are neverending varieties of error!

I love discussions like this, though, because there is an iron-sharpening-iron effect; I can be encouraged by the Ibrahims' ongoing efforts to do what they can, chastened by Jason's reminder not to be snobby, heartened by Gina's confession of spiritual midgetdom (I am not alone!) challenged by labrialum's perspective.

Since I am actually in the midst of another school day with my offspring, I should wrap up by telling Jason he's absolutely right. Our school motto reflects the idea of valuing goodness over smartness: "A heart for God, whole-hearted in all pursuits."

Jason Taylor

Oops, me bad. Sorry about that line, Rachel. I did insult the intelligence of journalists.

Jason Taylor

If it is any comfort to you, I am often snobby myself. That is really a self-rebuke as well as a rebuke to others.


Learning is good, and good for us. Instruction, which is what colleges do anymore, not so much.

But we can be educated to appreciate the classics of the liberal arts, and still be totally comfortable with blue-collar people (and even *be* blue-collar people) and not imagine ourselves better than them, or act as if we do.

People seemed to assume that Gov. Palin isn't educated because she doesn't act all hoity-toity. I wouldn't be so sure.

The comments to this entry are closed.