Lesson from a Student

October 25, 2007

Last month I critiqued an atack made by The Pathway on Southwest Baptist University (my alma mater) for offering a yoga class. SBU student Charlotte Holman recently responded to The Pathway's article with a piece in SBU's student newspaper. Her piece is entitled "Denying Hinduism's influence at SBU: Student responds to article in 'Pathway.'" Here are some highlights from it:

There is nothing on the page or over the article suggesting it is an editorial, and it has been categorized by "The Pathway" as a news story.

... Don Hinkle, editor of "The Pathway," informed me in a phone interview that this article was in fact a news article.

... In fact, Hinkle said that he believes yoga and Hinduism are inseparable. He recognized that others may disagree with that belief, but the article didn't really recognize these other points of view.

The view of yoga as exercise was actually openly opposed by the article's sources and no counterarguments were given to respond to the opposition. The idea that some Christians practice yoga to grow closer to God was not even mentioned.

That doesn't seem like the objective characteristic of news stories. That seems like the selective exposure of an editorial.

On "The Pathway" website, they have a statement that specifically outlines their purpose or "mission" just like the one SBU has that is apparently so incompatible with yoga. The statement neatly ends saying "[t]he journal will facilitate Kingdom growth and promote unity in the Missouri Baptist Convention."

Is this article compatible with that statement? I don't think so. Writing about how one MBC-funded university does offer a popular unChristian activity and then contrasting it with the other MBC-funded university that doesn't seems to promote disunity instead of unity. While I believe we can be diverse and still be unified, I don't believe this article successfully told that story. The contrast was too stark and views were too polarized (one side greatly unsupported) for the article to trumpet diverse unity.
Well said! It is quite sad when a student has a better understanding of journalistic standards than a "professional." Christian journalists should set a higher standard than that of Hinkle and The Pathway.

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