The Four Deadly Sins of Religion Reporting

Dec. 16 2016

In a recent radio interview, Dean Baquet, the executive editor of the New York Times, candidly confessed that “media powerhouses don’t quite get religion.” David French explains exactly how mainstream journalists tend to misunderstand this crucial aspect of the human experience:

The original sin of religion reporting is the failure to believe what religious people say. There’s always an “other” reason for their actions. In much coverage of American Christianity, this mindset is obvious. You believe that God ordained marriage as the union of a man and a woman? Well, that’s just bigotry in search of a belief system, religion wielded as a club against the marginalized. . . .

Our nation has consistently misunderstood the challenge posed by jihadist terror, too, in part because our secular leaders and reporters often don’t believe jihadists mean what they say. Too many in the mainstream press believe jihadists are mainly motivated by resentment of colonialism, or by anger over the Iraq war, or by American support for Israel, rather than by the deep and ancient desire to spread fundamentalist Islam across the entire world.

The second sin of religion reporting is believing that ideological inconsistency and moral failings expose the bankruptcy of religious reasoning or the illegitimacy of religious identification. [To put it in Christian terms, we] all fall short of the glory of God. That’s not hypocrisy, but humanity. . . .

Then there’s the third sin: the belief that a good Google search or a quick Wikipedia read transforms a reporter into a theologian. . . . Finally, in spite of the enormous diversity of human experience, there are still those (even in the ranks of reporters and pundits) who believe that all religions basically teach the same things.

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More about: Christianity, Media, New York Times, Radical, Religion & Holidays

 

The Struggle for Iraq, and What It Means for Israel

Oct. 17 2018

Almost immediately after the 2003 invasion, Iraq became a battleground between the U.S. and Iran, as the latter sent troops, money, and arms to foment and support an insurgency. The war on Islamic State, along with the Obama administration’s effort to align itself with the Islamic Republic, led to a temporary truce, but also gave Tehran-backed militias a great deal of power. Iran has also established a major conduit of supplies through Iraq to support its efforts in Syria. Meanwhile, it is hard to say if the recent elections have brought a government to Baghdad that will be pro-American or pro-Iranian. Eldad Shavit and Raz Zimmt comment how these developments might affect Israel:

Although statements by the U.S. administration have addressed Iran’s overall activity in the region, they appear to emphasize the potential for confrontation in Iraq. First and foremost, this [emphasis] stems from the U.S. perception of this arena as posing the greatest danger, in light of the extensive presence of U.S. military and civilian personnel operating throughout the country, and in light of past experience, which saw many American soldiers attacked by Shiite militias under Iranian supervision. The American media have reported that U.S. intelligence possesses information indicating that the Shiite militias and other elements under Iranian auspices intend to carry out attacks against American targets and interests. . . .

In light of Iran’s intensifying confrontation with the United States and its mounting economic crisis, Tehran finds it essential to maintain its influence in Iraq, particularly in the event of a future clash with the United States. The Iranian leadership has striven to send a message of deterrence to the United States regarding the implications of a military clash. . . .

A recently published report also indicates that Iran transferred ballistic missiles to the Shiite militias it supports in Iraq. Although Iran has denied this report, it might indeed attempt to transfer advanced military equipment to the Shiite militias in order to improve their capabilities in the event of a military confrontation between Iran and the United States and/or Israel, or a confrontation between [the militias] and the central government in Baghdad.

From Israel’s perspective, after years when the Iraqi arena received little attention from Israeli decision makers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman have mentioned the possibility of Israel’s taking action against Iranian targets in Iraq. In this context, and particularly in light of the possibility that Iraq could become an arena of greater conflict between the United States and Iran, it is critical that there be full coordination between Israel and the United States. This is of particular importance due to [the American estimation of] stability in Iraq as a major element of the the campaign against Islamic State, which, though declared a success, is not yet complete.

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More about: Barack Obama, Iran, Iraq, ISIS, Israel & Zionism, U.S. Foreign policy