Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
November 6, 2000
Why Journalists ridicule Christianity
SPECIAL TO THE WCR
Stockwell Day recently told a TV audience that he prays for journalists who ridicule his religious faith. Surely not individually by name. He would have time for little else.
Appearing on the Christian talk show 100 Huntley Street, Day specifically referenced a Toronto Star article about him that sarcastically signed off with "God bless his Holy Roller Pentecostal soul." The Star writer was far from unique in referring to Day's evangelical Protestantism with contempt. Maclean's columnist Alan Fotheringham has referred to him as "jump for Jesus Stockwell Day," and media pieces about Day typically include boilerplate swipes at his "fundamentalist" beliefs - not kindly intended.
I find it fascinating that Canada's self-styled media elites seem to share an overwhelming consensus that Christianity - especially evangelical Christianity - is uniquely fair game for cheap shots. It is one thing not to share a religious point of view, but quite another to feel compelled to deride it relentlessly.
Imagine, if you will, what would happen if journalists started making routine derogatory references to say, Jews or Muslims. The you-know-what would hit the fan. However, the mavens of the fourth estate appear to think they have license to dis Christians.
This is partly attributable to ignorance. I'll bet that to a high nineties percentile of journalists, Pentecostalism is as exotic as, say, Rastafarianism. Probably very few would know that Pentecostalism is the fastest-growing religious category in the world, increasing at twice the rate of number-two Islam.
Probably, not one in a thousand would be able to cite the five fundamentals of the Christian faith to which the term "fundamentalist" originally referred.
However, I think that the problem that the chattering classes have with Christianity is based mostly in ideology and pseudo-intellectual snobbery. While it is currently fashionable to make some sort of nebulous claim to "spirituality" in one's life - the more hazily defined the better - actually professing to believe in the transcendent is so horribly dŠclass‚e.
As Theodore Roszak noted in Where The Wasteland Ends: "When I was in college . . . I learned the death of God like a data point in freshman survey classes. . . . Of the needs of the spirit one simply did not speak. . . .
"This, I rapidly learned, was the most intellectually intolerable aspect of personality. . . . How gauche, how offensive to introduce anything even vaguely religious into serious conversation."
Consequently, the late Pierre Trudeau, or Jean Chretien, or Bill Clinton showing up in church on Sundays is deemed tolerable, or even praiseworthy, because none of them, nor countless other perfunctorily churchgoing politicos, give us the slightest indication that Christian belief, to whatever degree it is privately held, would ever have any substantive impact on the way they conduct their execution of public office.
Their "spirituality" was/is compartmentalized away from "real-world" concerns and of affairs.
This may be good politics, but it is lousy Christianity. "You are the salt of the earth," Christ declared, "But if the salt loses its flavour, how shall it be seasoned? It is than good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. . . . You are the light of the world. . . . Let your light so shine before man."
Jesus also warned that "Whoever confesses me before man, him the Son of Man will confess before God. But he who denies me before man will be denied before the angels of God."
A third factor driving journalists' hostility toward real Christianity (as opposed to the safely neutered and domesticated kind) is, I think, fear. While they are sanguinely content to dismiss Christian believers among the hoi polloi as no-account superstitious idiots, it is quite another thing when one of those idiots gets his or her hands on the reins of real power - say as leader of the opposition or (perish the thought!) prime minister.
The fact that Christianity can and does exert powerful and profound effects on the lives of those who seriously affirm it is, to borrow a term from Maclean's magazine, "scary" to the liberal left media establishment. Day has become a lightning rod for that fear and apprehension.
As Roszak observes, "(For) those who have spearheaded the struggle for social democracy, (transcendence) has been imperiously crowded and by the demands of conscience.
"In the moral conviction of these crusaders without a god, a science-based humanism and the left-wing anti-clerical legacy have combined to make religion an intolerable distraction from social responsibility. . . . In brief, our ethics is at war with religion."
Of course, anti-Christian hostility is nothing new, and is indeed to be expected. "He who is not with me is against me," Christ warned.
Saul of Tarsus, later Paul the Apostle and writer of half the New Testament, held the cloaks of the mob that stoned St. Stephen to death. There is hope yet for the objects of Day's prayers for journalists.
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