Christians (and presumably non-Christians, too!) “make a very serious mistake” if they turn to news outlets like The New York Times, Newsweek, CNN and MSNBC for “reliable news about religion,” the incoming bishop of Philadelphia told a crowd of young people in Spain last week. LifeSiteNews reports:
“Being uninformed about the world and its problems and issues is a sin against our vocation as disciple[s],” Archbishop Charles Chaput told his audience during a special World Youth Day session in Madrid. And yet, he went on to note, the Christian believer is faced with a unique challenge in finding accurate sources of information on key issues.
“In the United States, our battles over abortion, family life, same-sex marriage and other sensitive issues have led to ferocious public smears and legal threats not only of Catholics, but also against Mormons, evangelicals and other religious believers,” he said.
“And with relatively few exceptions, the mass media tend to cover these disputed issues with a combination of ignorance, laziness, and bias against traditional Christian belief.” …
“These news media simply don’t provide trustworthy information about religious faith,” he said. “These are secular operations focused on making a profit. … They have very little sympathy for the Catholic faith, and quite a lot of aggressive skepticism toward any religious community that claims to preach and teach God’s truth.”
In case you have any doubts as to the accuracy of Chaput’s criticisms, the latest example of the double standard at play in the columns of at least one NYT writer (who just happens to be the executive editor!) might help to resolve them.
Of course, no one asks that the NYT or MSNBC demonstrate “sympathy” for the Catholic or any other faith — but a fair shake would be welcome. All the news media needs to do is state accurately and openly what the Catholic Church or any other religion teaches on an issue and allow readers to decide for themselves. In the case of Catholicism, it should be especially easy to do, as the Church publishes an official catechism that serves as the final word on Church doctrine. Reporters could store that volume in their desks right along with the AP style guide and refer to it anytime they want to provide the Church’s position on an issue. I imagine other religious faiths publish similar materials.
Or, the MSM could abandon all pretense to objectivity. That, at least, would alert readers to the reality that they need to diversify their sources to ensure a well-rounded perspective. But until news sources like Newsweek and CNN speak the truth about themselves, Chaput and others will continue to call them out.
On a related note, the MSM is not the only segment of society that has “a lot of aggressive skepticism toward any religious community that claims to preach and teach God’s truth.” Academia, too — in my limited experience, at least — seems to operate from assumptions of religious falsehood rather than religious truth. Studies show higher education liberalizes believers’ faith, leaving few completely sure of their convictions. But I’d be curious to know if additional education about what various religions actually teach (and not just “higher education,” in general) leads students to reject religion or soften their stances on objective truth (embracing relativism) at similarly high rates. In other words, among the highly educated set, how many are also highly educated about a wide variety of religious doctrines and yet reject religion? Just a question.