It's time for another edition of "What is this?"
This is where we at GetReligion attempt to determine whether a particular piece of journalism -- or in some cases, a media organization in general -- is news or commentary or something in between.
The traditional American style of journalism -- the model that this website unabashedly promotes -- relies on impartial, accurate reporting with named sources cited. On controversial topics, it's really nice to see some balance in terms of the quoted sources.
But much U.S. journalism has given way to a European brand of advocacy, frequently making it difficult to distinguish between what is meant as "Just the facts, ma'am" and what is purposely told with a (biased) attitude. Lean forward!
Today's example comes to us courtesy of a reader, who questions whether a piece on evangelical voters from Yahoo! News and attributed to the website's "senior political correspondent" really falls under the category of news.
The reader notes that the story is "full of snark and opinion, but not labeled as opinion or even analysis."
To Americans who stand outside the evangelical tradition, Franklin Graham’s recent proclamation that there’s “no question” that God supports Donald Trump’s presidency was another head-scratcher in a growing list of puzzling statements by Christian leaders over the past year.
Even without getting into the question of whether God chooses sides in elections, or how Graham can be so sure of his preference, there is the obvious fact, much discussed in the campaign, that the generally non-churchgoing, avidly materialistic Trump seemed an unlikely vessel for God’s will.
But Graham’s remark and white evangelicals’ continuing support of Trump make more sense when viewed in light of American evangelicalism’s history and DNA. It is a subject explored in depth in “The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America,” a new history of the movement by Pulitzer Prize-winner Frances FitzGerald.
“He did everything wrong, politically,” Graham told the Atlantic’s Emma Green. “He offended gays. He offended women. He offended the military. He offended black people. He offended the Hispanic people. He offended everybody! And he became president of the United States. Only God could do that.”
Graham’s mentality reflects the evangelical obsession with dramatic solutions and easy answers that Michael Horton, a professor of theology at Westminster Seminary in California, described in his 2014 book, “Ordinary.”
“American Christianity is a story of perpetual upheavals in churches and individual lives. Starting with the extraordinary conversion experience, our lives are motivated by a constant expectation for The Next Big Thing,” Horton wrote.
Um, OK. Where to start?