Picking sources for stories

stereotype1-300x155.jpgNewsweek's error-ridden and preachy cover story aiming, without success, to argue that the Bible has nothing meaningful to say about marriage, is meriting laughter and disbelief among the religious groups it targeted. The Politico wrote a news story about some of the response. They spoke with people who found Newsweek religion editor Lisa Miller's piece to be inadequate theologically, because it ignored or creatively interpreted key parts of Scripture. They also spoke with people who found Newsweek's essay inadequate politically, since it pretended that formal opposition to same-sex marriage is based Sola Scriptura as opposed to a wide variety of reasons including Natural Law and other secular reasoning. In that sense, the article did a good job of looking at the two major problems with the story, from a journalistic perspective. Here's a sample:

In addition to contesting Newsweek's specific scriptural arguments, some social conservatives took issue with the basic premise of the magazine's story: that conservative opposition to same-sex marriage is based on specific biblical instructions.

"I see it as an attempt to caricature and reduce to a cartoon the social conservative belief in the efficacy of traditional marriage, and try to reduce it to some formulaic, scriptural literalism," said Ralph Reed, the former executive director of the Christian Coalition. "There’s more of a practical, sociological foundation for why we seek to affirm marriage as an institution than I think is generally understood by those who want to legalize same-sex marriage."

Though Reed said he had respect for Newsweek, he said this week's cover story was based on a "false assumption": "We're not trying to take the Bible and put a bill number on it and legislate it."

But there was something rather noticeably odd about the story as well. Feedback was included from Richard Land, who heads the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; Tony Perkins, president of the socially conservative Family Research Council; and Ralph Reed, the former executive director of the Christian Coalition.

These are all worthy sources and their quotes were interesting and on target.

But could they be more stereotypical of the media-constructed image of opposition to same-sex marriage? The fact of the matter -- and it would be hard to learn this from reading outlets such as Newsweek -- evangelicals such as those quoted in this story are but one of many religious groups who believe that the Bible defines marriage as a heterosexual union.

Where are Roman Catholics? Where are the Orthodox? They are just the two largest Christian groups in the world comprising, well, the majority of believers. They both have come out publicly and repeatedly against same-sex marriage. Where are the confessional Protestants? Where are the Mormons who have been violently targeted in recent months? And that's not even looking at Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc.

I know that the media love to go to evangelicals for their quotes but the fact is that religious support for marriage as traditionally defined as a sexual union between men and women could not have wider or more varied support.

It's a simple point but if you have room to quote three religiously affiliated sources, they should not all be evangelicals.

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