Today on the radio, James Dobson accused Senator Obama of “distorting the Bibleâ€ in a two year old speech. As a result, as of this moment, there are 599 related stories on Google news and cable news stations have been running clips of Dobson’s attacks multiple times per hour.
But isn’t news supposed to be new? As in, previously unknown information?
James Dobson not being a fan of Obama is not news. As the Christian Broadcasting Network notes with an appropriate dash of sarcasm, “Now here’s a news flash – James Dobson is not a Barack Obama supporter. He is not a Democrat. ”
The media’s repeated hyping of this story further implies that James Dobson somehow represents the views of the American evangelical population and that his attacks on Obama will have major consequences. While Dobson was repeatedly identified as a leader of the evangelical movement in news stories today, there was no mention of the fact that many evangelicals do not share his political views or feel that he represents them.
As the recent Evangelical Manifesto recognizes: “Evangelicals have no supreme leader or official spokesperson, so no one speaks for all Evangelicals, least of all those who claim to.â€ Moreover, the 2006 American Values Survey found that 44% of the Americans expressed that leaders such as Dobson did not represent their political views well or not at all.
Although a majority of Americans say religion is very important to them, nearly three-quarters of them say they believe that many faiths besides their own can lead to salvation, according to a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
The report, the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, reveals a broad trend toward tolerance and an ability among many Americans to hold beliefs that might contradict the doctrines of their professed faiths.
For example, 70 percent of Americans affiliated with a religion or denomination said they agreed that “many religions can lead to eternal life,â€ including majorities among Protestants and Catholics. Among evangelical Christians, 57 percent agreed with the statement, and among Catholics, 79 percent did.
Among minority faiths, more than 80 percent of Jews, Hindus and Buddhists agreed with the statement, and more than half of Muslims did.
The findings seem to undercut the conventional wisdom that the more religiously committed people are, the more intolerant they are, scholars who reviewed the survey said.
How solidly Republican will Christian evangelicals be in 2008? As the country enters the next phase in this historic election season, concern about the state of God’s earth may be the issue that draws many believers into the Democratic camp.
There’s plenty of news out there about growing divisions among evangelicals over the science and the action required to address global warming. Although this video is a bit light on information, the young Christians here actually give a good sense of the debate and reveal some emerging generational, authority, and messaging issues.
Here’s three short clips of Ray Suarez, senior correspondent for “The News Hour With Jim Lehrer” on PBS, discusseing the politics of faith in America in a special “Inside Media” program at the Newseum.
Sen. Obama’s faith
Here he discussion religion in public life in the context of the polygamy case in New Mexico.