Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Religion and the media

The uninitiated watching the PBS Newshour segment above might think that Trudy Goodman invented mindfulness meditation here in the USA, when of course it comes from a Buddhist tradition.

Kevin Drum posted about how we need more informed "God talk" about religion in this presidential campaign and that the religious press, not the mainstream media, already does this:

The reason I don't think that mainstream journalists are genuinely worried about religious questions coming off as criticism is because plenty of journalists do ask questions about religious faith. And presidential candidates talk to them. The thing is, these are mostly journalists for religious publications, who have the background to talk about this stuff without sounding ignorant. Mainstream reporters are well aware of this, and well aware that most presidential candidates are happy to talk about it. They're just uneasy about their ability to do the job right.

Talking about "God" doesn't apply to Buddhism, a non-theistic religion, but, except in the religious press or on some TV stations, religion is rarely discussed in any depth in this country, though Republican candidates all claim to hold strong religious beliefs that should be closely examined.

Mitt Romney got off easy, since there was little discussion of Mormonism in 2012. 

Liberals can be critical of Christianity, though you won't catch any of the beat reporters covering the presidential campaign doing that. 

Instead, you see anti-Christian bias in cultural coverage like this.

But the greatest religious taboo in the mainstream media today is an honest discussion of violence and Islam. Sam Harris is performing a public service by aggressively questioning The Religion of Peace:

We[Maajid Nawaz and Harris] do not entirely agree on how, and how fully, religion should be subjected to criticism in our society, but we both believe that merely repeating platitudes like “Islam is a religion of peace,” despite evidence that many zealots see it as a religion of war, blurs the line between truly peaceful and tolerant Muslims and those who aspire to drag humanity back to the seventh century.

Holding Islam up to scrutiny, rationally and ethically, must not be confused with anti-Muslim bigotry. Cries of “Islamophobia,” which have become ubiquitous on college campuses and in much of the liberal press, have been used to silence legitimate criticism. In an open society, no idea can be above scrutiny, just as no people should be beneath dignity...

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