WOULD GOD EVER DAMN AMERICA?
That's the topical question columnist Robert Scheer asks in this piece. Poor God. The Almighty gets drafted into one army after another, gets enlisted on behalf of this or that political party, this or that football team, this or that social cause, this or that religion. Still, at least it must be nice to be wanted.
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THE MEDIA'S 'PROMOTION' OF ATHEISM
I'm always a little wary of media watchdog groups that have as their purpose exposing "liberal bias" or "anti-religious bias" or any other kind of bias in the media.
An example is a new report from the Culture and Media Institute of the Media Research Center. The report, called "Apostles of Atheism," describes the group's effort to monitor coverage of atheism in various media forms.
The conclusion: Atheism gets promoted in the media in ways traditional religions don't. The first link I've given you in the first sentence of the previous paragraph will provide a secondary link to the full report. Or you can just click here to read that full report.
I'm not here to defend the media's coverage of religion or atheism. As regular readers of this blog know, I think the media generally do an inadequate job covering religion. The problem is many faceted. Newspapers and other media outlets don't devote enough resources to this coverage. Readers and views don't demand better. And there's lots of theological ingorance among media executives.
But I think there may be another aspect to the considerable coverage that atheism got last year besides any alleged pro-atheist bias in the media. And that has to do with the definition of news. News is what is out of the ordinary. So war and crime will always be news as long as war and crime are not the normal states of the human condition but, rather, aberrations (I know, that's getting debatable).
So when several books promoting atheism come along and start to sell well, that's a story, given that the normal state of affairs in the book world is that the Bible outsells everything. The new public attention to atheism is interesting, different, unusual. So it attracts media attention for those reasons, not necessarily because the media wants everybody to chuck religion and become atheists.
Well, read the study today if you like. And tell us what you think.
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P.S.: The annual AIDS Walk in Kansas City to raise funds for local AIDS service organizations now is less than a month away. I'll be walking in it. If you'd like to help, click on the "AIDS Walk 2008" link under the "Check this out" headline on the right side of this page and make a pledge. Lots of needy people will be grateful to you.
To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.