I saw this mentioned in ScienceBlogs and had to share. We've talked about the War on Christmas before, but really that war is part of a larger issue: how do you cope when you are part of an over-represented majority? When the majority of Americans share your faith, and your religion dominates the culture and all three branches of government, it's doesn't leave you much to complain about. Now, that doesn't mean you shouldn't complain. Instead, the few things left should be complained about ad nauseum. So when the Faith & Values section of the Columbus Dispatch wrote a few stories about Islam and Buddhism, they got letters from unhappy readers:
A couple of critics wanted to know why we were wasting ink on these "false" beliefs when Christ is the only path to salvation. Another caller said he was tired of having "that Islam religion â€¦ shoved in my face."Mark Fisher, editor of that section, decided to take a look at their coverage. He tallied up the subjects of all the front page articles and compared it to the demographics of their readership. It turns out that one group was being left out, but it wasn't the Christians:
Although Faith & Values isnâ€™t ignoring Christians, my tally does suggest that we are giving nonreligious people less attention than they deserve. Weâ€™re already taking steps to correct that.Looking at the actual percentage of coverage and comparing it to the demographics of their readership is a really interesting idea, but I don't think they will win any converts (so to speak) with an empirical approach. I don't think Dispatch readers were complaining that Christianity was being under-represented statistically. I think they were complaining that any view, other than their own, was given any exposure what-so-ever. There are many people curious enough in their lives and mature enough in their faith to be interested in what others believe, but I fear they are the minority. In my experience, many, many people have the sort of faith that requires putting their fingers in their ears and singing "I can't hear you." Unfortunately, these are often the most vociferous members of any faith. So I applaud Fisher's approach, and I agree with his conclusion - agnostics and atheists probably do get too little coverage in the news. But I don't think the Dispatch have much success. Even if the Dispatch went the other direction and had 99 percent Christian coverage, they would probably still be accused of fueling the "War on Christmas" or some other such nonsense because of that one percent. So good luck.