Major Media to Christians Stay Out of Politics

PBS's Bill Moyers is not the only journalist with a dim view of Christians holding positions of political power. Consider the words of former USA Today Supreme Court reporter Tony Mauro in a USA Today op-ed discussing President Bush's nomination of John Ashcroft for U.S. attorney general. Mauro wrote, "In John Ashcroft's America, he said in 1999, 'We have no king but Jesus."' But, said Mauro, "In the Justice Department... it is the Constitution that is king ... Ashcroft will need to assure the nation that he can enforce the Constitution and the laws of Congress when they run contrary to the laws of Jesus, as they surely will. A larger question ... will be: Can a deeply religious person be Attorney General?"

Echoing the same theme, MSNBC's Brian Williams asked Newsweek's Howard Fineman, following a debate among Republican presidential candidates, whether the candidates' positions weren't "rather strident ... anti-gay, pro-Jesus, and anti-abortion and no gray matter in between?" And a 2002 U.S. News & World Report article entitled "God's candidate," profiling Arkansas Senate candidate Jim Duggar, said, "For some, there can be no higher calling than public service, but when God himself taps you to take the mound, well." To these journalists a deep Christian faith is a liability for public service. Senator Charles Grassley lamented this reality in an interview during Ashcroft's Senate confirmation hearings, saying, "It's a sad commentary that John Ashcroft's Christian religious beliefs can't be considered an asset in the same vein that Joseph Lieberman's religious faith was considered an asset during the last election."

Perhaps the journalists' view is a result of their own beliefs and practices. A number of studies have shown that the members of the national media are much less religiously observant than the average American. A 1995 study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs showed that some seventy percent of major media journalists seldom or never attend religious services, while almost half of all Americans attend services more than once a month.

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