“The Religious Right Must Lose”

From Get Religion, commenting on the carefully worded Time article on pornography:

The world is, alas, full of religious conservatives who automatically want to assume that all journalists basically hate believers in all traditional forms of religion. That’s way too simplistic, of course, as I have tried to explain for decades when speaking in a wide range of settings – including religious colleges, think tanks and gatherings of mainstream journalists. This piece from The Quill – “Religion and the News Media: Have our biases fatally wounded our coverage?” – covers the basics.

That link points to a 1993 article, taken from 1992 lectures: long before Kellerism has solidified into the foundation of all American mainstream news. What was a pronounced tendency 20 years ago is merely a simple fact now.

But I have little interest in trying to save an aging media establishment that only and comprehensively despises me and mine. What’s far more interesting is the number of Christians that cheerfully ‘go along to get along’ – and will certainly avoid paying any price for what they believe – and continue to send their God-given children to schools where they will be carefully and methodically taught to despise everything their parents believe in.

That is something that needs sorting out, one way or the other.

However, this circle of Godbeat pros was talking about the worst cases that we were seeing of slanted journalism. We are talking about cases in which it was clear that editors had crossed the line between advocacy journalism and old-school reporting that stressed accuracy, balance and respect for the beliefs of people on both sides of hot-button subjects.

Was there a kind of journalistic Grand Unified Theory of Everything, when it came to explaining these really ugly cases? What was the thread that ran through them? A colleague from the West Coast eventually ended the silence with this blunt statement: “The Religious Right must lose.”

The media is composed of far too many anxious worry-warts. Most Christians are happy to trust the Republican Establishment to deliver, and they have only delivered losses for 40+ years. It is reasonable to assume that the Religious Right will only continue to lose for the next 40 years – it pleases the corporations, it pleases the Establishment, it pleases the Republican leadership, and it pleases those pietist and retreatist Christians who are always ready to escape reality and the hard work.

Serious believers should be working on the local angle, for the day when the morally bankrupt social order becomes a financially bankrupt social order.

See if you can spot it in this key summary material, which begins with a reference to groups of young men who are beginning to fight back against porn (which is the hook for the cover story).

These young men feel like unwitting guinea pigs in a largely unmonitored decade-long experiment in sexual conditioning. The results of the experiment, they claim, are literally a downer.

So they’re beginning to push back, creating online community groups, smartphone apps and educational videos to help men quit porn. They have started blogs and podcasts and take all the public-speaking gigs they can get. Porn has always faced criticism among the faithful and the feminist. But now, for the first time, some of the most strident alarms are coming from the same demographic as its most enthusiastic customers.

Of course there are much broader concerns about porn’s effect on society that go beyond the potential for sexual dysfunction, including the fact that it often celebrates the degradation of women and normalizes sexual aggression.

That objection went by rather fast, didn’t it?

Several GetReligion readers sent me notes about this, wondering why the Time team did next to nothing in terms of dealing with moral and religious arguments against pornography.

One reader asked bluntly: Were the Time editors afraid to state that millions of ordinary believers still think there are moral standards that are relevant to topics such as porn, masturbation, sexual abuse, the degradation of women, etc.? Was it hard to state that science might support the traditional religious view that some sins literally warp the soul?

In other words, were Time editors extra careful to make sure that this cover story didn’t give religious people a win?

To ask the question is to answer it.

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