We get this a LOT

A missive came to us labeled "Letter to the editor," but it also shouted "NOT FOR PUBLICATION." So we’ll compromise. I’ll put it on the blog, but without attribution:

     Warren Bolton’s religious opinions ("Why seek ye the living among the dead?") belong in the religion section, not on the editorial page. While IBolton respect his right to practice Christianity, his religious beliefs do not interest me. Frankly, I’m surprised The State feels they belong in the main part of the paper.
    However, may he keep beating up on payday lenders. Good job!

My colleague Warren puts folks who despise both religion and predatory lenders in a tough spot; they don’t know whether to spit or cheer.

For my part, I just cheer.

Long before Stephen Carter put out The Culture of Disbelief in 1994, I wondered why we in the press regarded religion as off-limits. Newspapers could deal with people’s views about politics, sports, sex, food, popular culture, health issues, and pretty much anything else, but God needed to be neatly walled off, confined to a page that was the personal domain of a less-than-favored reporter whose job it was to have lunch with preachers to keep them from bothering editors.

It was as though the Fourth Estate had misread the First Amendment, confusing a couple of the clauses:

Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of the press, so long as the press makes no articles respecting religion, or the free exercise thereof …

But don’t just blame the press. A lot of readers seemed to buy into the same premise. Still do.

I had noticed that editorial pages ditched letters that quoted Scripture routinely — sometimes as a matter of rigid policy. I always thought this was utterly ridiculous. Still do. What do you think?

11 thoughts on “We get this a LOT

  1. bill

    Although I’m not a Christian(I’ve been told I’m in denial),I think it’s A-OK for writer’s to quote from scripture.My best friend is a devout Catholic and you’ve published one from him that quoted scripture ad nauseum.I believe in God and an afterlife,but don’t believe any particular religion has a monopoly on the truth.I think “its” all a big mystery that we’ll never figure out until we die,if then.
    I don’t have a monopoly on the truth either,so I think it’s fine to believe what you want to believe and express it on the editorial page,if you wish.So be it and let it be.

  2. Herb Brasher

    Well, you already know what I think, I’m sure. But I’d just like to point out that I never knew anybody who didn’t have faith in something, so if we all intrinsically have it, then we ought to be able to talk about it. I mean, it’s not like questions such as “Why am I here?” “Where am I going?” and so on, are not important. Besides, doesn’t it seem rather odd that a country that was founded by Puritans and Roman Catholics (thinking of the Spanish in particular), and has been so strongly influenced by Christianity throughout its history, should have come up with what has to be a unique experience in the political realm. Like maybe those two things have some correlation at some level?

  3. Dave

    The same crowd that continually strives to remove God from all facets of our society are the cultural atheists who own and run most of the media. Is it any wonder that Gibson couldnt get sponsorship for Passion of Christ from the film makers? The newspaper owners, Disney, Barry Stiller (?}, Ted Turner, the list goes on and on. Alternate media and communications manage to offset this trend to some degree. And I think the declining readership of most papers and the viewer defections from the established networks is also related to this. I think in today’s world Hollywood would not produce Ben-Hur or Moses etc. But Miramax will do Priest, of course about a gay priest, anything to demean religion.

  4. bill

    If gay priests or preachers demean religion,you’re going to have a hard time finding a church to attend.The clergy is filled with gays.

  5. JimT

    I guess he has the right to write such editorials, but I have no interest in reading them. I would think appealing to the interests of most readers would be important to the editorial staff, but that’s just me.

  6. Brad Warthen

    Well, since you raise the point, I’m guessing that most of our readers go to church, and take a certain interest in such matters.
    Newspapers’ traditional unwillingness to deal with religion has always been one of those huge disconnects with a great number of their readers.
    That’s not why Warren wrote what he wrote, but I just didn’t want you thinking that most readers are secularists who would be offended by his writing. They aren’t. His voicemail was choked with positive feedback.

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