Walter Russell Mead on Religious Ignorance in the Media

In a democratic society, law and public policy follow, however imperfectly, public opinion. That’s why it’s important that journalists, who do so much to shape public opinion, cover stories thoroughly and correctly. When it comes to covering religion, however, Walter Russell Mead writes this weekend, the mainstream media’s ignorance dramatically skews things:

False panics over alleged theocracies lurking under every bush (haha), inability to analyze or cover major news stories involving Islam, and a persistent overestimation of global support for the secular rights-driven agenda that serves much of the MSM as a guiding ideology in lieu of religion can all be traced back to the religious illiteracy of so many journalists today. The MSM covers US politics less effectively than it could and missed the boat on the Arab Spring primarily because it has so little grasp of what religion is and how it works.

There’s lots of evidence for what Mead alleges. A couple of years ago, I heard a BBC announcer refer to Easter as the day on which Christians commemorate the death of Jesus. I’m not sure what can be done, except to encourage journalists to learn more about religion and cover it carefully. Sites like Mead’s, FaithWorld, and GetReligion are helpful correctives.