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Media Fall Short in Reporting About Religion

The media is blamed for a lot that is undeserving, but one place cable, networks, newspapers and the Internet do come up short is in-depth reporting on church polity and oratory in the varied worship services.

The reaction to excerpted remarks of Sen. Barack Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, is a good example. The Chicago preacher is radical–just like most of the Old Testament prophets of Israel.

We Christians have become so comfortable in our faith that we have forgotten just how radical the God of the Bible and the “good news” of Jesus Christ really was–in the beginning, that is.

The prophets sometimes did go overboard as they tried to awaken Israel’s leaders and people to their sins.

The prophet Isaiah said God was fed up with their festivals: “So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you, yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of bloodshed.”

King Hezekiah could have called that treason, but he had enough sense to listen. There is too little of that these days–too little brave, powerful and truthful preaching and too few in the pews who make the effort to listen.

The original Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, had much to weep and wail over. He was not as fortunate as Isaiah. “Come,” said the people, “Let us devise plans against Jeremiah, come on and let us strike at him.”

Like Jeremiah, Obama has some people out for his skin (or his nomination for president on the Democrat ticket). Why? Because he associates with a radical preacher; one whose words could have been better phrased, but who told the same truth that thousands of conservative and liberal preachers have been doing since this country was formed–return to godly ways and quit your sin. Rebellion against God (the major, unforgivable sin) will ruin an individual as well as a country.

I have visited and preached in black churches. They are extremely different than our so-called white churches. We constantly are told that the 11:00 Sunday morning hour is the most segregated hour of the week. The reason is not race. The two cultures’ worship is very different. The presentation of the gospel is the same in both, but it is delivered differently. Most blacks would be bored to death to sit in on a white church service.

Why is there no outburst over the real preachers to fear, Rod Parsley and John Hagee for example? You can hear them (unfortunately) any day of the week on cable.

Parsley thinks America was founded to bring the Muslims down. He says Muslims will be on the devil’s side at Armageddon.

Hagee is anxious for Armageddon to come and has it all worked out for Russia and Iran to get it started. Hagee openly calls for an invasion of Iran.

If you read the papers you know Sen. John McCain says he is proud to have both Parsley and Hagee endorsing him for president. When McCain was recently in Ohio, Rod Parsley was right there on his bus, working as the “spiritual guide” to the senator.

These two white preachers are largely ignored but continue their outlandish interpretations of Scripture. Both want to “save America” and turn it into a theocracy.

There is not a peep from the media on these white TV preachers and their preaching of hate. The media just does not put money into good religious reporters or research into the activities of American churches.

Rev. Jeremiah Wright should be condemned if he thinks the government aided the spread of AIDS. The Religious Right has gone to worse extremes in fighting the Planned Parenthood’s work.

Frank Schaeffer, son of the powerful religious leader Francis Schaeffer, recently penned a book about his father. “When Senator Obama’s preacher thundered about racism and injustice, Obama suffered smear-by-association. But when my late father denounced America and even called for the violent overthrow of the U.S. government, he was invited to lunch with Presidents Ford, Reagan and Bush, Sr.”

Obama has renounced the incendiary remarks of his now-retired pastor. This election year has brought more people to the voting booth because they have seen something of a new hope. It is not healthy for the media to continue dragging out a story with no real legs. The cherry-picked-sound-bites of some media are not in the best interest of the country.

Britt Towery is a former teacher, missionary and pastor who lives in San Angelo, Texas.