An interesting article, which I have posted here in hopes that Charles Johnson will see it. Of course, we know that he never reads DoD, but maybe one of his little sycophants will report back to the Lizard One. I have annotated this article to point out certain highlights that pertain to Charles. I don’t think he has the intelligence to take some of these suggestions to heart, but we can always hope.
But here are four points that journalists (Charles Johnson) should always keep in mind when they (he) ask(s) and then write about religious beliefs that they (he himself) themselves don’t share.
First, conservative Christianity is a large and complicated world, and like other such worlds — the realm of the secular intelligentsia very much included — it has various centers and various fringes, which overlap in complicated ways. Sometimes teasing out these connections tells us something meaningful and interesting. But it’s easy to succumb to a paranoid six-degrees-of-separation game, in which the most radical figure in a particular community is always the most important one, or the most extreme passage in a particular writer’s work always defines his real-world influence.
Second, journalists (Charles Johnson) should avoid double standards. If you roll your eyes when conservatives trumpet Barack Obama’s links to Chicago socialists and academic radicals, you probably shouldn’t leap to the conclusion that Bachmann’s more outré law school influences prove she’s a budding Torquemada. If you didn’t spend the Jeremiah Wright controversy searching works of black liberation theology for inflammatory evidence of what Obama “really” believed, you probably shouldn’t obsess over the supposed links between Rick Perry and R. J. Rushdoony, the Christian Reconstructionist guru.
Third, journalists (Charles Johnson) should resist the temptation to apply the language of conspiracy to groups and causes that they (he) find(s) unfamiliar or extreme. Republican politicians are often accused of using religious “code words” and “dog whistles,” for instance, when all they’re doing is employing the everyday language of an America that’s more biblically literate than the national press corps (Johnson). Likewise, what often gets described as religious-right “infiltration” of government usually just amounts to conservative Christians’ using the normal mechanisms of democratic politics to oust politicians whom they disagree with, or to fight back against laws that they don’t like.
Finally, journalists (Johnson) should remember that Republican politicians have usually been far more adept at mobilizing their religious constituents than those constituents have been at claiming any sort of political “dominion.” George W. Bush rallied evangelical voters in 2004 with his support for the Federal Marriage Amendment, and then dropped the gay marriage issue almost completely in his second term. Perry knows how to stroke the egos of Texas preachers, but he was listening to pharmaceutical lobbyists, not religious conservatives, when he signed an executive order mandating S.T.D. vaccinations for Texas teenagers.
Oh, and just in case Charles thinks this short lesson on responsible journalism came from some right-wing publication or blog, please read the whole article at the New York Times.