Why Can't the US Press Name the Bad Faith in Evangelical Politics?Roundup
tags: conservatism, religion, political history, evangelicalism
John Stoehr is the editor and publisher of the Editorial Board, a newsletter about politics for normal people. He's a visiting assistant professor of public policy at Wesleyan, a fellow at the Yale Journalism Initiative, a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly, and a contributing editor for Religion Dispatches.
Among the various and sundry problems endemic to the Washington press corps is the dearth of reporters and producers born into ultra-conservative religious traditions but who had, by the grace of God, found a way out.
If there were such people involved in deciding what’s news, we would scarcely see stories about the “difficulty” facing White evangelical Protestants when deciding whether to vote for people like Donald Trump and offspring, such as Senate candidate Herschel Walker.
We would not see opinion pieces laboring to explain why White evangelical Protestants are hypocrites for supporting a Republican candidate who’s admitted to paying for abortions, in addition to fathering a covey of children with multiple women he didn’t marry.
We would not see, in other words, a Washington press corps grown complicit in a decades-long effort by White evangelical Protestant leaders to gaslight America into thinking their zealotry is not at all dangerous to democracy despite all appearances to the contrary.
We wouldn’t see evangelicals routinely escaping accountability.
A few days ago, National Public Radio aired a piece with this headline: “Evangelical voters grapple with Herschel Walker’s controversial image.”
“Grapple” connotes soul-searching, but the interview subject, Timothy Head of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, didn’t seem as vexed by the choice as much as he was vexed by press corps’ scrutiny of it.
NPR clearly doesn’t have anyone in a key position who was born into, but left, an ultra-conservative religious tradition. If it did, the radio network wouldn’t have given Head a chance to explain why White evangelical Protestants are still good people despite the fact that their vote for Walker signals their desire for a return of a Jim Crow caste system.
That person, in a news meeting, would have said whoa, hold up. White evangelical Protestants are going to vote for a Republican no matter who it is. Religion has nothing to do with it, unless by “religion” we mean the political power to protect social hierarchies that give White people advantages. In that case, sure, it’s about religion—but let’s say that. Let’s not give an ultra-conservative zealot a chance to gaslight us.
That person, though holding unfamiliar news judgment, would have seen their premonition bear out. Incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock won Georgia’s run-off, but Walker gleaned 48.6 percent of the vote, most of it from rural areas dominated by White evangelical Protestants.
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