The news outlets CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, and Newsweek have come under fire by Philadelphia's incoming Archbishop, for a lack of "trustworthiness" where matters of religious faith are concerned.
According to Archbishop Charles Chaput, the media do not “provide trustworthy information about religious faith. ” His comments were made Wednesday during an address on religious freedom before some 10,000 pilgrims at the Catholic World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain.
Archbishop Chaput told the group of young faith-goers, “in the United States, our battles over abortion, family life, same-sex ‘marriage,’ and other sensitive issues have led to ferocious public smears and legal threats not only against Catholics, but also against Mormons, evangelicals, and other religious believers.” CNSNews adds:
“And with relatively few exceptions,” he said, “the mass media tend to cover these disputed issues with a combination of ignorance, laziness, and bias against traditional Christian belief.”
The Archbishop continued: “We make a very serious mistake if we rely on media like the New York Times, Newsweek, CNN, or MSNBC for reliable news about religion. These news media simply don’t provide trustworthy information about religious faith -- and sometimes they can’t provide it, either because of limited resources or because of their own editorial prejudices.”
“These are secular operations focused on making a profit,” he said. “They have very little sympathy for the Catholic faith, and quite a lot of aggressive skepticism toward any religious community that claims to preach and teach God’s truth.”
Archbishop Chaput noted that the media gave a lot of coverage to the so-called “Arab Spring,” involving civil unrest in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries. “But very little of that coverage has mentioned that the turmoil in Muslim countries has also created a very dangerous situation for Christians and other religious minorities across North Africa and the Middle East,” he said. “In Egypt, angry mobs have attacked Christian churches and monasteries, burning them to the ground and murdering the people inside.”
Archbishop Chaput also criticized the lack of media coverage for widespread anti-Christian violence in Iraq, Syria, Tunisia, and Pakistan.
“Christians face frequent discrimination, slander, beatings and even murder,” the Archbishop added.
In addition, Archbishop Chaput warned that it is dangerous when democracies attempt to erase religion from the public arena:
“Forcing religious faith out of a nation’s public square and out of a country’s public debates does not serve democracy,” said the Archbishop. “It doesn’t serve real tolerance or pluralism. What it does do is impose a kind of unofficial state atheism. To put it another way, if we ban Christian Churches or other religious communities from taking an active role in our nation’s civic life, we’re really just enforcing a new kind of state-sponsored intolerance -- a religion without God.”
CNS adds that Archbishop Chaput was named by Pope Benedict XVI to head the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. His duties will commence September 8, 2011.
It seems faith communities certainly have their work cut out for them when attempting to navigate the arguably unfriendly waters of mainstream media. Do you agree with the Archbishop that certain media cannot be trusted to deliver accurate information on faith and religion?