Can journalists at Marie Claire report objectively on evangelicals and sex? Definitely not

Marie Claire is the Huffington Post of the women’s magazine set. All opinion, no balance.

What is it about this publication that makes them think that they have an in when it comes to what evangelical Protestant women think? I’ve criticized them before when they did a piece about evangelical females who were secretly gunning for Hillary.

I’m not denying those women existed but the piece was wishful thinking considering that Trump got 81 percent of the evangelical vote. So now Marie Claire has come out with another supposedly tell-all piece; this one about evangelical women who patronize Planned Parenthood.

One thing that shows the magazine's cluelessness right away is the illustration that goes with the piece. It shows an Eve-like figure surrounded by a rosary and reaching for a birth control pill.

Note to Marie Claire editors: Catholics, not evangelical Protestants, pray the rosary. 

Elizabeth* is a 29-year-old stay-at-home mother of four. From a young age, her conservative evangelical parents and pastors impressed upon her the values of the religious right: that a woman's virginity is a gift to her husband, that sex outside of marriage is a sin, that abortion is murder.
Planned Parenthood was the enemy. "My dad instilled in me that we were against that group," Elizabeth says. "He was the kind of guy that would honk in support when people were outside protesting."

The story talks about how she got married, then divorced, then had an ovarian cyst at which point she sought out Planned Parenthood for treatment because it cost the least amount of money. Then:

Voices from the religious right have long been some of the loudest and most vitriolic critics of Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides reproductive health services to an estimated 2.5 million women and men in the United States each year. They've called Planned Parenthood a baby-killing factory and a bastion of evil. Evangelical Christians are the most visible aggressor in the fight to overturn Roe v Wade. And this is a social group with hefty political sway: 25 percent of Americans identify as evangelical according to the Pew Research Center, and 82 percent of those evangelicals identify as politically conservative or moderate.
"When I walked in there, I was so embarrassed," Elizabeth says of her first reluctant visit to a Planned Parenthood clinic. "These were all people getting free services to possibly kill their child. They were a stereotype, to me. But I was out of resources." The only place Elizabeth could think to turn was the one place she'd been taught forever to avoid.
There are many more women like her, all around the country. Women who grew up in conservative Christian environments that push abstinence-only education, unwavering anti-abortion attitudes, and adherence to the Republican party line -- and who, out of necessity, are secretly visiting Planned Parenthood clinics for pap smears, birth control, STD tests, and other reproductive health services, including abortions.
"We have many people from evangelical or born-again traditions who come to our health centers all across the United States," says Reverend Vincent Lachina, regional chaplain for Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and Hawaii. "Some evangelical and fundamentalist church staffers have even been patients."

How does Lachina know this? We are not told. If you are looking for on-the-record information with a clear source, this is not the story for you.

The story then switches to another woman who wanted to use birth control while a college student. She didn’t want her use documented on her health insurance, so she got pills from a PP clinic. Hmmmm. When I was a college freshman, I did work study at the campus health clinic, which handed out birth control pills like candy. There are health care centers other than PP where you can get cheap birth control and sometimes it’s available on campus.

Soon after this, Marie Claire drops what little pretense it has of doing real journalism and goes on a rant against that nasty Religious Right that won’t let women get abortions. A sample:

It's largely due to the Christian right's vehement opposition that Planned Parenthood faces the very real possibility that it may have to shut down. Clinics around the country continue to close, one by one, state by state, due to lack of funding -- just two weeks ago, Planned Parenthood announced that it would have to shutter four locations in Iowa and leave nearly 15,000 women without a primary healthcare provider after the state's mostly Republican congress voted to block funding to any medical facilities that provide abortions, despite the fact that a majority of Iowans support Planned Parenthood.

Does anyone fact check these stories? PP is absolutely swimming in money these days. And, its annual abortion tally (897 a day) has increased. (PP’s annual report has all sorts of helpful data but the abortion stats are near the end.)

Much of the rest of the piece goes on and on about the nasty conservative Christians and how when some snuck off to a Planned Parenthood clinic, they were amazed at the enlightened attitudes there compared with the medieval thinking back at church.

I’m sure the quotes in these pieces are from real women but can’t we have at least one opposing point of view? Or does Marie Claire so lack confidence in its position that it cannot publish one iota of dissent?

Also, are all evangelical women brought up in households where sex isn’t discussed and where girls aren’t coached about what to expect when their periods happen? The way evangelicals are caricatured in this piece as sex-hating nitwits is almost amusing. It deserves a place in the Kellerism Hall of Fame; Kellerism being, as readers of this blog know, a term signifying that a media outlet that has made up its mind on a certain hot button issue to the point where there is no legitimate other side to the story. Thus, only one point of view is expressed.

Now that this magazine has done at least two hit pieces about evangelical women, will someone please steer its editors to what evangelicals are actually saying about sex and birth control

I disagree that it’s impossible for a women’s magazine to report accurately about religion. I sold two articles about women and religion to More magazine from 2013-2015, one of which won a Wilbur award, so if the will is there, it can be done. But the will –- and the desire to hire writers who will write something other than press releases for Planned Parenthood –- has got to be there in the first place.

With Marie Claire, it's not. Look at the links below the piece to articles with titles like "Watch a GOP lawmaker get drowned out with boos over Planned Parenthood comments" and "Here's what Barbara Pierce Bush said during her Planned Parenthood speech." 

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