Poor, uneducated and easy to barbecue?

One of my favorite corrections of all time ran in the Washington Post back in 1993:

Correction: An article yesterday characterized followers of television evangelists Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as "largely poor, uneducated and easy to command." There is no factual basis for that statement.

I imagine readers of this blog are familiar with this tale but reporter Michael Weisskopf, now a correspondent for Time, actually wrote that and it somehow got published without anyone in the newsroom thinking it need fixing. All across America, evangelicals faxed copies of their graduate school diplomas to the Post newsroom.

I could not help but think of that when I came across this piece -- already mentioned by Sarah Pulliam yesterday -- by Atlantic.com staff editor Nicole Allan:

People are sometimes caught off guard by Huckabee's intellectual competence because of his rural Arkansas habits (he and his wife lived in a trailer while the governor's mansion was being renovated) and his outspoken evangelical views.

Yes, who can disagree with the logic of this statement? It is surprising that someone could be an evangelical and somehow also competent.

I mean, really. Lines like that may not tell you a lot about former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. But they tell you something about how well journalist Nicole Allan knows evangelicals. Don't worry, I won't call her incompetent or ignorant. She just needs to meet an evangelical or two to find out that they are not actually knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing, snake-handlers. Yes, I am being sarcastic.

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette religion editor Frank Lockwood linked to the piece on his blog with a post headlined "Yes, ma'am, we can read, write AND barbecue ..."

Clearly, this is an opportunity for cross-cultural education. Might your GetReligionistas suggest that journalists turn to this fine publication from the University of North Carolina Press?

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