Primaries

Muslims are pretty much like the rest of us: RNS steps lightly through new survey

Muslims are pretty much like the rest of us: RNS steps lightly through new survey

Despite the furor by Donald Trump and Ted Cruz over Muslims, those believers are pretty much like other Americans, according to a Religion News Service story on a new survey of various kinds of believers.

With this piece, RNS' Cathy Lynn Grossman shows her talent once more for turning survey numbers into timely news copy. She also proves her nimbleness: Just the other day, we shared a stage as speakers for the Reporting on Religion conference in Madison, Wisc.

Right in the lede, Grossman plugs in the survey results with the presidential primaries:

(RNS) This election season, Muslims face a slate of Republican candidates who demand curbs on immigration and compete over how tough they’d be on Islamic terrorism, if elected.
But a new survey finds U.S. Muslims are looking at American society and its future much the same as their non-Muslim neighbors. Like non-Muslims, the economy is their top concern. They are engaged in community life and share similar attitudes on several significant issues.

The article is upfront about the Muslim source of the survey and, through the main researcher, the motives:

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Muslims vote for a Jew! Some journalists make strawman of Sanders' win in Dearborn

Muslims vote for a Jew! Some journalists make strawman of Sanders' win in Dearborn

The Michigan primary was settled on Tuesday, but some mainstream media are still chattering over Dearborn -- a city said to be 30-40 percent Arab, yet voted decisively for the lone Jewish candidate, Bernie Sanders.

And so many are still crowing about how so very wrong the pundits were to fret over anti-Semitism, it's hard to find the fretting. The stories are almost all "Nyah, nyah, we knew it all along."

The International Business Times let out some of the loudest chortles:

As the results rolled in, television pundits like Lawrence O’Donnell and Chuck Todd marveled on MSNBC that Sanders was doing so well in Dearborn “despite” the large Arab-American population there. WNYC radio host Brian Lehrer tweeted that Sanders’ dominance in Dearborn was “the stat of the night,” later adding “It’s official: Arab city feels the Jewish Bern.” Meanwhile, The Week dubbed it “just one more strange data point in an election overflowing with them.”
The assumption implicit in such commentary, of course, is that Muslims are biased against Jews — and that when they do cast a vote for Jewish candidates, it’s because they’ve somehow managed to overcome their own inherent anti-Semitism. But this fascination with Dearborn’s support of Sanders actually demonstrates the media industry’s own all-too-prevalent prejudice — and reveals how much reporting on American Muslims is still rooted in an unsophisticated naiveté about what motivates them.

The article quotes a prof saying that “the ‘Muslims voting for a Jew’ tagline is trite." And it quotes a Libyan-American writer saying that mainstream media are "guilty of promoting two-dimensional caricatures of Muslims and Arabs."
 
IBTimes isn’t the only miscreant, of course. The Huffington Post began its stridence yesterday with the headline: "Yes, Muslims Voted for A Jewish Candidate. Pundits Shouldn't Be Surprised." Added the subhead: "Arab-Americans in Dearborn, Michigan, shut down uneducated commentary about their support for Bernie Sanders."

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Franklin Graham: Another Trump? Yes and no, RNS profile says

Franklin Graham: Another Trump? Yes and no, RNS profile says

The Religion News Service takes a skeptical but fair-minded look at Franklin Graham -- his beliefs, his politics, his differences from his famed father, Billy Graham -- in a satisfyingly long profile rolled out for Super Tuesday week.

And no, that’s not a chance coincidence, as Godbeat veteran Cathy Lynn Grossman crafts the story:

While Donald Trump campaigns to "Make America great again," Franklin Graham, facing a nation where conservative believers are losing cultural clout, wants to make it Christian again. Week after week, he stands on winter-wind-swept statehouse steps and exhorts crowds like a biblical Nehemiah, warning people to repent to rebuild Jerusalem — with a gospel twist. He urges them to pray first and then vote for Bible-believing evangelical candidates.
But you can’t vote for him.
"No, no!" he is "absolutely not" running for office, said Graham, who tends to rat-a-tat-tat his points.
Instead, he exhorts his listeners to run themselves, starting with local city and county offices. Imagine, he says at every tour stop, the impact on society if "the majority of the school boards were controlled by evangelical Christians."

This sweeping, 2,200-word article is impressive, though not without a couple of issues. It tells of Franklin's rise in building the Samaritan's Purse charity, from a small medical mission into one of the largest disaster relief and development agencies in the U.S. And it adroitly parallels the presidential primary campaigns with Franklin's $10 million "Decision America" barnstorming tour, which often "takes him into town just ahead of a primary or caucus."

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