Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Curate’s Egg: Political Language in Religion Reporting

Tuesday, February 28, 2012
by George Conger

Reporting on the Anglican Communion and its religious wars is a tricky business. The path of least resistance for most reporters is to secularize the fight, splitting the combatants into liberals and conservatives and placing the dispute within the context of America’s culture wars.

Now this is not wrong, merely incomplete. There are partisan political considerations at work in the fight within the Episcopal Church — one faithful gauge of the theological temperature of an Episcopal congregation are the bumper stickers found on the cars in the parking lot on Sunday mornings. In 2008 Obama or McCain stickers were good indications of the political and theological sentiments of the parish.

The Episcopal Church’s statistical office has reported — for years — that in the aggregate the lay people (the folks in the pews) are evenly divided between self-identified liberals and conservatives. But congregations are for the most part monochrome. This lack of diversity at the roots is also represented in the bureaucracy at the national and diocesan church offices. They are a mirror to their masters.

So on one level, the left/right split is a useful shorthand for reporters when covering the Episcopal Church. And when you go to the sources for information in an Episcopal or Anglican story you will likely speak to someone on a particular side. the rest


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