by Fidel "Butch" Montoya
One of the biggest concerns about the news media covering religious news and issues of Evangelicals revolves around the central fact of who actually represents the point of view of this large diverse group.
The on going controversy and questions as to whether the Religious Right is dead or is irrelevant to the issues of the 2008 Presidential election continues to generate more questions and interest in the mainstream news media.
This election year we have seen a resurgence of new voices raising concerns and wanting to be heard. Many members of the Evangelical sector of the Church have tired of being aligned with the voices of the Religious Right and in particular of Rev James Dobson.
In Colorado, a diverse and cross cultural interfaith group of religious leaders are tired of being misrepresented by Dobson and his cohorts at Focus in the Family and have formed “We Believe Colorado.” We Believe Colorado has committed to work together on issues of common interest and to represent faith groups not aligned with the dying breed of the Religious Right leadership.
A question continually bought up, “Is why does the cable and network news media think that Rev. James Dobson speaks for the majority of religious and value voters?” That is one question We Believe Colorado can answer. Dobson and company do not speak for the new voices of religious leaders fighting for justice and righteousness and who have no interest in taunting our faith as a wedge issue.
Faithful America, a national grassroots group committed and motivated by their faith to press for solutions to moral issues of our time, studied some interesting statistics and data after Rev. James Dobson’s crew dug up an old 2006 speech by Sen. Barack Obama on his faith.
You can just see it now, all these researchers at Focus on the Family focusing on finding old speeches by Senator Obama. They found at least one speech they could use to attack the senator.
Faithful America also reviewed the news coverage given to Rev. James Dobson’s unwarranted attack on Senator Obama’s 2006 speech. The critique centered on how the news media allowed itself to be hoodwinked by the Dobson speech machine and take as truth whatever Dobson claimed was news worthy.
We Believe Colorado immediately recognized Dobson’s remarks as mere propaganda from the oracles of Colorado Springs.
The question Faithful America asked was, “What religious story dominated the cable networks last week?”
Given two choices, what story do you think would create more news or opportunities to break it down for more interesting quotes and observations – the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life releasing a groundbreaking survey of 35,000 Americans documenting the diversity and tolerance of people of faith and the growing consensus by people of faith around issues like poverty and the environment or Rev Dobson attacking Sen. Obama’s 2006 speech?
The surprising or alarming answer to the question was the news cable talking heads and pundits chose the out dated 2006 speech.
Given the two choices, CNN, MSNBC, and FOX NEWS on Tuesday, June 24, mentioned the Rev. James Dobson’s comments 189 times criticizing the two year old Obama speech.
The new landmark Pew study and survey barely made the news with just 8 mentions.
This situation gives the impression that Obama’s 2006 speech is a priority in our religious community. Allowing the news media to pick our national spokespeople and issues is something we need to challenge.
Rev. James Dobson does not speak for me or many other interfaith religious leaders and it is time the national news media understands that fact.
To ignore ground breaking news from the Pew Institute for comments from an old speech that occurred two years ago is not only irrelevant to the issues of this election, but also irresponsible. It is merely creating a false narrative and distracts from the important issues of people of faith.
To continue to give Rev Dobson the title as national spokesperson for Evangelical religious leaders and believers is misleading the American public and distorts our values and faith priorities. It also sends a false picture of who we represent.
Clearly, Rev. James Dobson does not speak for me, so to the national media news editors/producers, “Get over it, Dobson is old news and his nasty misleading comments have no room in our efforts to use our faith to fight for justice and truth.”
Fidel "Butch" Montoya
H. S. Power & Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative
Denver, Colorado 80212