O Ye of Little Faith: The Secular American Media and Religion

January 13th, 2010 Billy Hallowell

The media have an inadequate understanding of religion. This simple fact is corroborated frequently, as mainstream outlets attempt to illustrate stories, explain religious themes and delve deep into faith-based systems.  Unfortunately, most outlets miss the mark entirely, as journalists do not have proper understanding of the constructs through which they are attempting to report.  As a result, the American public suffers a lack of pointed and well-presented information on a subject that stands at the forefront of important global and domestic issues.

Case in point, Christiane Amanpour’s 2007 CNN mini-series entitled, “God’s Warriors.”  The three-part series delved into the world’s three largest religions – Christianity, Judaism and Islam.  As is typical of the secular media, an enhanced level of relativism led the Iranian-bred Amanpour (born in London to a Persian family) to equate “extremism” within and among adherents to the three religions.

While each belief system has had moral failures, equating the deaths as a result of radical Islamic fascism to those of contemporary Christianity and Judaism is absurd.  Furthermore, as is the case when journalists attempt to cover religion, Amanpour left out essential details that would have provided a more fair-minded picture.

In terms of her opaque coverage of Christianity, MercatorNew.com wrote the following,

“But she missed the obvious. [Christians] were participating in America’s legal and political system exactly as it was intended by the Founders, as a representative republic, with citizen involvement.  She missed the pre-Jerry Falwell political civil rights activism of Dr. Martin Luther King and other Christians, and she totally missed Catholic social justice and the involvement of the roughly 70 million strong Catholic community in the US in the pro-life movement. She did highlight the powerful impact of Roe v. Wade on galvanizing Christians. She just failed to mention the Catholic involvement, which is considerable.”

In its usual ideologically-balanced form, The New York Times wrote the following endorsement: “This three-part series…is a fine primer on the emergence of strains of Judaism, Islam and Christianity that want to fuse politics and religion, and have shown a willingness to blow things up and kill people to do it.”

Again, an unhealthy and unbalanced level of moral equivalence – though I will give the Times credit for writing: “the issues on these Christian warriors’ minds seem positively quaint next to the agendas of the people in Parts 1 and 2.”  Still, the inability to truly distinguish, on the whole, is a detriment to true understanding.  Unfortunately, this sort of coverage is common.

The modern secular newsroom lacks the ideological know-how to truly understand religion.  Perhaps Terry Mattinglybest exlplained the media’s “diversity problem”. According to Mattingly, “While there’s been heavy gender and racial diversity … there’s a lack of cultural diversity in journalism…”  It is this lack of diversity that leads to major misconceptions and the media’s inability to adequately tell stories that are rooted, themselves, in religious themes.

The lack of diversity may lie in the journalists themselves, as personal faith plays a role in the ability to understand and thus illustrate religious themes.  Just how religious are journalists?  According to USA Today, “the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reported in 2007 that 8% of journalists surveyed at national media outlets said they attended church or synagogue weekly.”  Additionally, 29% reported never attending church services, with an additional 39% stating that they go a few times each year.  In sum: Not very religious – especially when compared to America as a whole.

Pew found that 39% of the public claims that they attend church services weekly.  Additionally, past Gallup pollshave shown as many as eight in ten Americans claim allegiance to Christianity.  Clearly, these numbers show the need for proper journalistic understanding and presentation, especially when covering stories rooted in Christian themes.

Not enough journalists are regular church goers. Faith is not an attribute one can physically observe, thus “affirmative action” – a promotional methodology that is highly controversial to begin with – is an impossibility (also, employment laws generally forbid interview questions of faith).  While general ignorance and inexperience with religious themes is likely a culprit amongst journalists, and consequently mainstream media outlets, complacency is also an impediment.

In a 2003 Los Angeles Times piece, David Shaw wrote the following:  “Absent…scandal — or the death of a pope and the election of his successor — the news media often seem indifferent to, ignorant of and, at times, downright hostile toward religion.”  Shaw is completely correct in his assertion.  If not indifferent altogether, the media approach religion so slothfully that it appears as though the effort to misunderstand is undertaken with a barely concealed level of hostility.

In covering the American Religious Identification Survey that was conducted in March 2009, the Pew Research Center wrote,

“A comment on the blog Matters of Faith declared, “The media’s tendency to give inordinate attention to religious dimwits and crackpots has seriously damaged the credibility of religious leaders. You rarely read or hear of the miraculously generous work of faith communities in caring for the poor and infirm around the globe. But let someone suggest that the Virgin Mary has appeared in a plate of refried beans and the bulletins circle the globe in minutes.”

This commentary targets one of the media’s main malfunctions when it comes to covering religion in general and Christianity in particular.  As is the case with most stories covered by the mainstream media, the more outlandish, the more the story is pursued.  In practice, this creates a climate of coverage strewn with the “dimwits and crackpots” mentioned above, as journalists lack the understanding or desire to seek a wide array of theological viewpoints.  Meanwhile, thousands of Christian missionaries risk their lives both domestically and internationally to make lasting spiritual and physical change in the lives of those in need.  Yet their stories go widely unnoticed.

Modern democracy hinges in part on a proper understanding of religion amongst journalists, leaders and the general public.  Matters of faith are some of the most personal aspects of American life.  Furthermore, faith is one of the only cohesive forces that, if properly nurtured, leads to interdependence and personal, spiritual and societal growth.  It is a shared and common experience.

Given the religious turmoil present in the Middle East – conflict that has affected America and Americans for for decades – one might think that the media have a responsibility to offer properly informed coverage.  While efforts to ethnically and sexually balance the newsroom have been underway for quite some time, ideological and theological divides have led to tilted and incomplete coverage in matters of faith.  It is time that the media better serve our democracy in covering a subject that will be increasingly important in the coming decades.

Rating: 2.6/5 (11 votes cast)

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Urban Conservative Officially Relaunches

October 29th, 2009 Billy Hallowell

Hello, America!  I am extremely excited to be writing to you this evening, as I officially begin my journey as editor-in-chief of UrbanConservative.com.  My name is Billy Hallowell and I am honored to introduce myself to you all.  

I have been a contributor to this site for the past two years.  I am a journalist and commentator who has been working in media for nearly 11 years (I’m 26, so I started fairly young).  In 2003, I founded Pathufind Media and I am currently the host of RENEWtv, a web show devoted to renewing American conservatism.  And now, I’m officially a member of the Urban Conservative family!

But enough about me.  You can surely read more on my Web site, but I’m guessing you’re most interested in what will be happening here on UrbanConservative.com!  Tomorrow, we will become a daily publication.  Many of you have been actively reading UC for years.  This new change will afford you even more access to valuable news and information!

You’ll notice we’ve launched a plethora of new topics.  While these subjects are of great importance to American politics, please be patient as we build our content around them (i.e. there may be a lag before all topics have streaming content).  But, we will be branching into new and uncharted news categories, as you can see.

Also, in November, my show — RENEWtv - will officially join forces with Urban Conservative.  

These are just some of the changes in store as we move forward!  Please be patient as we transition, add new blogs to the CONLIST and forge our path moving forward.  I thank you for your support and readership and I look forward to serving you!

- Billy Hallowell, Editor-in-Chief

Rating: 3.0/5 (22 votes cast)

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Obama’s Attacks on FOX Smell of Desperation

October 28th, 2009 Noah Johns

The White House’s recent attacks on FOX News are a good indicator of just how far off message the Obama administration has strayed. It speaks volumes to the level of hypocrisy rampant in the administration that this president, who never misses a chance to get in front of a microphone or camera, has the nerve to complain about the tone of news coverage on FOX. Obama wants other media outlets to ignore FOX and has unleashed his henchmen to paint the entire network with a broad partisan brush.

Liberals, who are usually among the first to speak up for freedom of speech and the press, should be ashamed of Obama’s actions as well as their own. Where is the self-righteous indignation that liberals felt when they asserted that George Bush was playing favorites by inviting conservative pundits to the White House and shutting out liberal acolytes? Is this some sort of leftist payback in their clouded minds?

We either have freedom of the press or we do not. There is very little middle ground. President Obama’s team  likes to claim that FOX is a “research arm” of the Republican party. The real reason the White House is seeking to demonize FOX is because their big government, deficit exploding, economic non-stimulus agenda is failing. It is failing in the polls and it’s failing in reality.

Consider in the nine months Obama has been in office he has accomplished very little. A stimulus package was passed that has produced 33,000 jobs at a cost of almost $500,000 per job. Meanwhile, nearly 7 million jobs have been lost. Health care legislation is such a mess now that whatever finally comes out of Congress is going to look nothing like Obama promised during the campaign. Obama has gone on a world apology tour that won him the Peace Prize from a bunch of European leftists who loved the fact that he has told the world the United States is to blame for much of the world’s problems. Cap and trade is a multi-trillion dollar boondoggle that has the potential to make the healthcare fight look like a yo momma war of words between a bunch of third graders.

Guantanamo is not going to close in one year as Obama promised. The war in Afghanistan is a debacle with a wishy washy president who will not commit the resources needed to win it. I almost forgot…unemployment is nearly 10%, a full 2% higher than the administration said it would go if we passed the stimulus and now they are saying the rest of the money is not likely to have much effect.

With a record like that, Obama needs a “win.” He needs an opponent that can be demonized, marginalized, isolated and destroyed…all right out of the Rules for Radicals playbook. Enter FOX news. They are an easy target because a large part of Obama’s base hates Fox and everything associated with it. The question becomes what does a “win” look like for Obama?

Fox news is easily the number one cable news network out there. In a recent ratings report, it had the top 11 shows on cable news and 13 of the top 14. It is absolutely killing CNN, MSNBC and HLN in virtually every time slot and demographic. Ratings have spiked even higher since the White House has decided to take on Fox. Their profits have to be going through the roof.

 Obama must realize that FOX is enormously popular. The president’s need for attention and adulation is only dwarfed by the size of his ego. The idea that a major segment of America watches Fox and thus rejects Obama and his policies has to be absolutely irritating the hell out of the president. He is the one who is supposed to be in the limelight. This is Obama’s moment in the sun, his chance to make history and here comes this upstart network trying to steal his thunder so he picks a fight with them.

For Obama to win this fight, FOX has to be thoroughly discredited. The network has to be seen as pure propaganda and thus eventually lose some of its appeal to the right of center people watching it. It must fall behind MSNBC, CNN and HLN in the ratings for Obama to declare an end to the era of Fox. None of this is likely to happen anytime soon.

 The more likely course of events is that Obama and his cronies will continue to attack FOX. FOX will continue to see its ratings climb and will gain even more influence in the discussion of politics in America. The president will continue to look like a cry baby. The public will continue to see through Obama’s attacks as an attempt to divert attention from the real issues facing America. The 2010 elections will see a shift in power in the House and Senate as the GOP makes major inroads in both bodies. With any luck, Obama will have overplayed his hand and underestimated the influence and power of the forces against him and lose his re-election bid in 2012.

Picking fights with members of the media is usually suicide for politicians. Ask Gary Hart. Ask Richard Nixon. You could even ask John McCain. We have a long history of freedom of the press and if you are in office that means you are going to have to accept the fact that many members of the media are not going to fawn all over you. Obama had better learn this lesson fast but it seems unlikely that he will. His honeymoon with the press is over and not just with FOX either. We can only hope he keeps repeating his same mistakes and becomes yet another failed one term president.

Rating: 3.3/5 (11 votes cast)

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MSNBC Calls Veterans, Senior Citizens, Hockey Moms and Business Owners Hooligans

August 4th, 2009 John Michael Rivera

MSNBC has labeled groups of veterans, senior citizens, hockey moms and business owners showing up at local townhalls to protest the Obama health proposal, as “raw hooliganism”.

MSNBC feels that protesting against President Obama or any liberal for that matter, and standing up for what you believe in is subversive and should be discouraged whenever possible, which in liberal double talk means all the time.

The Obama administration, demonstrating their insecurity says: “constituents venting personal concerns, about Obama’s health care proposal, at townhall meetings were deemed “organized” groups of conservatives, “manufacturing anger” towards the Obama plan-a hilarious accusation since the conservative right has had no organization for quite some time.”

The Obama administration was not counting on voters disagreeing with President Obama, let alone actually demonstrating their dissent. Obama, it seems, does not have any experience in having to debate or defend his opinions due, in part no doubt, to the paralysis of the Republican Party and their refusal to defend themselves and their beliefs against liberal attacks.

For the uninitiated, liberals deplore debating their positions and beliefs because to debate assumes that you can argue for your ideas rationally, another foreign concept for liberals. This is why liberals avoid debates like the plague or paying federal income tax.


John Michael Rivera is a conservative blogger writing for The Conservative Spotlight a conservative blog. He has a background in political philosophy and lives in a heavily fortified compound in an undisclosed location in Virginia.

Rating: 2.9/5 (17 votes cast)

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Novel Idea: Let’s let the homeless in America decide who will be the next President

October 7th, 2008 Urban Conservative

In Cleveland, Ohio a volunteer group supporting Obama picked up hundreds of homeless people at shelters, soup kitchens and drug-rehab centers and drove them to a polling house yesterday on the last day that folks in Ohio could register and vote on the same day, with almost no questions asked.

One convicted felon noted, “I never voted before, without this service, I would have had no way to get here.”

Every decent law abiding citizen in this country — democrat or republican — should be angry and ashamed of this vile attempt to gain votes, however insignificant the number really is. The law against registering and voting the same day was on the books in Ohio, yet the democratic controlled court made this determination because they are — of course in bed with their political party. Yet another example of how democrats put their party before their country.

Sure, these people can vote for their candidate when they are in the booth, but there’s nothing preventing the fraud of voting in multiple locations. Is one homeless guy who’s bought off for a box of smokes or a six pack of beer worth 3 or 4 of your informed votes?

Let’s not only exploit the children in this country but also the homeless. Who’s next, the mentally disabled?

Tags: convicted felons voting for Obama, homeless people voting for Obama, Obama supporters in Ohio


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Rating: 2.6/5 (68 votes cast)

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Sarah Palin’s Babe Factor

September 10th, 2008 Conservative Cutie

By now I’m sure everyone in America has heard the news- McCain’s running mate is, to quote Zoolander, really really ridiculously good looking. What’s been most surprising to me, as an attractive woman in my own right, has not been the odd, sexist “V-PILF” website (meaning Vice President, I’d Like to… you know), but the amount of time supposed feminists are spending demonizing her for being attractive.

If Obama can be on magazine covers, why not Palin?
If Obama can be on magazine covers, why not Palin?

Barack Obama spoke sexism best when he said Hillary Clinton could “do it, and do it better, and do it in heels… I still don’t know how she does it in heels.” Everyone laughed, of course, but I had to take a minute to wonder how one’s choice of footwear could possibly be a handicap to overcome. If Hillary wasn’t comfortable in her pantsuit and heels, wouldn’t she wear something else? Hillary probably lost the democratic primary for no reason other than a bunch of men not thinking a girl can do a “man’s job”, and the media called that sexism. So why is the media getting away with calling Palin’s looks dangerous and an unfair advantage?

Since television coverage became widely used in presidential elections, Americans have generally been electing the guy with the better face for TV. That’s why youthful Kennedy won, why former movie star Reagan won, why handsome and caddish Clinton won (and we know how that one worked out for America…) and why well spoken and funny, good ol’ boy George W. Bush won both times he was up against a cardboard Democrat with poor speaking skills. Up until McCain announced he’d be running with Palin by his side, that guy in this election was Barack Obama. You’ve seen the I have a crush on Barack Obama t-shirts, you’ve seen the Obama Girl youtube videos, and I know you’ve seen certain liberal pundits say that when he speaks a “thrill” runs up their legs. Even Oprah is in love with him.

So, now the playing field is leveled and Republicans have a hot running mate. Obama, angry that he’s not the election’s sexiest movie star anymore, has started firing back by saying “If you put lipstick on a pig it’s still a pig”. Now, you can say that this remark is referring to the McCain campaign’s supposed attempts to dress up the same old policies by spinning them in a new light, but anyone who knows anything about Sarah Palin knows she’s a self-described pit bull with lipstick. Voters, if you’d been paying attention at all and had your listening ears on you would immediately see the parallels in Obama’s comment to Sarah Palin. This is probably more Obama’s speechwriter’s fault than Obama’s himself, but if every other candidate is burned at the steak for things that come out of their mouth it’s our duty to hold Obama just as accountable.

Feminists, remember when you burned your bras and insisted that women could wear whatever they wanted (by which you meant pants) and still be just as capable? Well, Palin, like most Republican women, likes heels and skirts. She’s a big girl and it’s her right to dress herself. There are a million clothing options at the malls of America and it’s a little unfair of you to cry foul because Palin happens to look good. She’s a pretty woman. Get over it.


tags: Obama comments about lipstick on a pig, If you put lipstick on a pig it’s still a pig

Rating: 2.4/5 (61 votes cast)

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Goodbye Olbermann and Matthews: You will be missed

September 8th, 2008 Urban Conservative

You will be missed by your’s truly and your 300+ viewers of your less than mediocre coverage of this year’s 2008 Presidential Election.  It looks like the “real” journalists in upper management were getting tired of your leftist rhetoric being portrayed as objective journalism.

Yes, MSNBC is removing Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews as the anchors of live political events, bowing to growing criticism that they are too opinionated to be seen as neutral in the heat of a very close presidential election. This follows increasingly loud complaints about Olbermann’s anchor role at the Democratic and Republican conventions. Olbermann, who regularly attacks Bush and McCain on his “Countdown” program, felt “truly inspired” and praised the acceptance speech of Obama.

He drew some serious flak last Thursday when the Republicans played a video that included a tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, saying that if the networks had done that, “we would be rightly eviscerated at all quarters, perhaps by the Republican Party itself, for exploiting the memories of the dead, and perhaps even for trying to evoke that pain again. If you reacted to that videotape the way I did, I apologize.”

It is also widely believed that the angry chants of “NBC, NBC, NBC,” at the Republican National Convention after Sarah Palin took a shot at the mainstream media were inspired by Olbermann’s leftist views.

Air America is always hiring and at least there you don’t have to pretend to be objective.  

Tags: Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews, MSNBC, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Harball with Chris Mathews 

Rating: 2.9/5 (61 votes cast)

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Oprah Winfrey refuses to interview Sarah Palin on her daytime talk show

September 5th, 2008 Urban Conservative

… until after she is Vice President of the United States. : )

This just in from the Drudge; he is reporting that Oprah’s staff is sharply divided on the merits of bringing Sarah Palin in for an interview.  “Half of her staff really wants Sarah Palin on,” one insider explains. “Oprah’s website is getting tons of requests to put her on, but Oprah and a couple of her top people are adamantly against it because of Obama.”

And, apparently one executive close to Oprah is warning that any Palin ban could ignite a dramatic backlash to the Obama campaign.  Oprah’s executive producer Sheri Salata; who has also contributed thousands of dollars to Obama’s campaign refused to comment on the issue, of course.   This comes after Oprah blocked an appearance by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas from appearing on her show last year.  Seems to me like there is a pattern here.

Oprah responded to Drudge’s report (pun intended) here:

The item in today’s Drudge Report is categorically untrue. There has been absolutely no discussion about having Sarah Palin on my show. At the beginning of this Presidential campaign when I decided that I was going to take my first public stance in support of a candidate, I made the decision not to use my show as a platform for any of the candidates. I agree that Sarah Palin would be a fantastic interview, and I would love to have her on after the campaign is over.

Maybe, just maybe they are talking behind her back because of her open endorsement of Obama. The other issue is that Americans are curious as to who Sarah Palin is. This is quite obvious given the number of viewers of her speech the other night at the Republican National Convention.  Also, Oprah has already used her show as a platform for a candidate. She has had Senator Barack Obama on her show twice (in 2005 and 2006).  And even if she hasn’t had him on her show recently, Winfrey’s name alone has helped snag over 1 million voters for Obama, according to a recent study. Isn’t it fair to share the love and limelight with the other side, which is much more attractive to look at anyway? In this case, perhaps the fairness doctrine would come in handy.

I know most of you adore Oprah, but ummm … I can’t stand her. 

Tags: Oprah Winfrey, endorses, endoresement, Barack Obama, the oprah winfrey show, sarah palin, interview, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Sheri Salata

Rating: 2.7/5 (52 votes cast)

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Paris Hilton for President!

August 6th, 2008 Conservative Cutie

It seems I have some competition for the cutest girl in politics- Paris Hilton, in association with Funny or Die, has released an ad in response to McCain’s “Celebrity” ad.

It’s funny. You’re allowed to laugh.

But more importantly, I think this ad raises a few interesting points about this election cycle. Doesn’t her proposed energy policy sound suspiciously like McCain’s? Why is it so much more palatable for Americans coming from the mouth of a hot blonde girl? You know, I’m a hot blonde girl. I should start making YouTube videos… Maybe we can get Paris to read all of McCain’s proposals from cue cards in a bikini! Then we’d win for sure.

Second, this isn’t necessarily pro-Obama. She doesn’t mention him and doesn’t say anything to favor him. It’s meant to be a slight against McCain, but it’s Paris Hilton! Come on! No one takes this girl seriously and she knows it. But it’s gotta make you wonder- if the youth vote is supposed to be so important to this election and essentially Obama’s ticket to the White House, I don’t think it bodes well for him that it’s only August and they’re already laughing at the election. How seriously can my peers be taking this if our biggest source of news is The Daily Show and Paris Hilton is speaking for us?

Readers, discuss.

See Paris Hilton Responds to McCain Ad and more funny videos on FunnyOrDie.com.

Tags: paris hilton video, paris hilton mccain ad, paris hilton obama and mccain, celebrity

Rating: 2.6/5 (59 votes cast)

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Obama’s “57 states” remark not a big deal

May 13th, 2008 Urban Conservative

… but what if it was Bush who said it?  Wouldn’t the media and the late night talk shows crucify him for it? What if it was McCain?  Wouldn’t the media blame his old age for inaccurate statements? So, tell me why Obama gets a free pass for this?  I am not going to fault the guy for misspeaking. He’s been on the campaign trail for over a year; and these candidates work up to 20 hours a day.  He’s fatigued, tired and obviously doesn’t get enough sleep!  This is a clear example of liberal media bias, period. 

The clip is actually pretty funny though. Take a peep.

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Tags: barack obama, 57 states

Rating: 2.2/5 (47 votes cast)

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