Anti-Media Paranoia

March 28, 2008

Ethics Daily reported today about comments by Southern Baptist Convention president Frank Page attacking the media. Although he stated after his surprise election that he was a conservative but was not mad about it, his recent comments suggest a different attitude. He argued that the media is liberal and has "an anti-Christian bias." Robert Parham of the Baptist Center for Ethics points out in response a number of very positive recent stories about Southern Baptists in the secular media. Parham argues that "the media is not a monolithic, anti-Christian monster." Also, the Canadian blogger at "Bene Diction Blogs On" took issue with Page's claim that the U.S. should learn from Canada where a pastor can be jailed for speaking out against homosexuality. Apparently the problem with Page's remark is that it is not true! It seems that his anti-media paranoia is based in part on incorrect information.

Although there are clearly cases of media reports that are unfairly biased against Christians, it is inaccurate to paint with such a broad stroke. In a couple of weeks, I will be presenting some papers at a communication conference. One of them is an examination of the media coverage of religion during the Terri Schiavo case. Although conservative Christians wanting to keep her tubes connected claimed that the media was biased against them, they actually received substantially more attention and opportunities to share their opinion. Their voice became the dominant religious one even though it did not accurately reflect the opinion of most Christians--even conservative ones--on the case. Maybe they are working the refs to get even better coverage, but it seems that often these claims of media bias come from those receiving more and better coverage than others.

UPDATE [3-31-08]: Ethics Daily has a new article in which two Canadian Baptist leaders dispute Page's claim about a pastor being jailed in Canada for speaking out against homosexuality.