Genuinely befuddled...

One of the things that has emerged from the coverage of candidate's religious beliefs in this current election cycle has been the extraordinarily clumsy handling of religion and religious ideas by large swaths of the mainstream media. The focus of this comedy of errors is on Gov. Palin at the present but no candidate has been handled well. Misquotes and half truths abound, and context is often non-existent.

So many journalists seem genuinely startled at the idea that a candidate even has a religious belief they take seriously. I suppose this is what happens when your life is lived in horribly provincial places like New York and Washington D.C. and you travel in small circles of both friends and ideas. But a person doesn't know whether to laugh or cry when you see grown up people, people who've supposedly traveled the world and possess a wide range of interest, stumble over themselves and stammer away at the thought that a politician prays and actually means it.

Where we these people born? Where did they go to school? Don't they have family? Maybe as part of their journalism training they should be required to live in say, Kansas or Alaska, for a year so they get a little bit of grounding about life beyond the studio. Perhaps they should go to a real church or synagogue every so often to be reminded about how people in the "fly over country" really live. "You mean you really believe in God and that's part of your life?" "How curious!" "How interesting!" "I can't wait to get back to my people and tell them about this strange and different America I discovered."

Well you get the point and the point is that the vast majority of the news you get about religion, especially the interplay of religion and politics will be flawed, folded, spindled, and mutilated by people who have lots of cameras but no clue. So be careful out there and take everything with a very large grain of salt. Ask the questions the journalists themselves are too ignorant of incompetent to ask and always remember "reader beware."

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