Carol Platt Liebau: Why the Strange "Boston Globe" profile?

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Why the Strange "Boston Globe" profile?

Hugh Hewitt is asking about this Boston Globe story: "For Family, Religion Shapes Politics: Heartlanders Convert Others to Live Daily by 'the Word of God.'" Why, Hugh wants to know, is The Globe publishing this fairly straightforward profile of an evangelical Christian family?

There are three theories that make sense here:

(1) The reporter went to do the usual MSM hatchet job on Evangelical Christians, but this family seemed so generally normal -- and their lives so wholesome -- that he found it unexpectedly difficult to lampoon them. So he settled for throwing in the fact that the father doesn't believe that Ghandi (or gays) can enter Heaven (that'll give 'em a frisson down in Harvard Square) and called it a day.

(2) This is a piece about the "exotic flora and fauna" of North America -- specifically, the "Jesusland" State of Ohio. A piece on a par with "One-Eyed Frog Still Has the Best Vision (and Fastest Tongue) in the Jungle" or something like that. Something to help all the Globe's readers understand (if not appreciate) all the "diversity" of "this great land."

(3) It's a subtle message to Democrats: Here's what you're up against. And here's the bad news for Howard Dean: as the story says, "in the Wilkersons' four-bedroom home, nestled between a creek and a cul-de-sac, a political conversion seems unlikely at best." In other words, Democrats needn't waste their time "rethink[ing] the party's message on religion and abortion, and how to reach out to voters for whom religion plays a critical, determining role."

It would be wonderful to think that #1's the answer -- that the reporter simply didn't have the heart to really chop this family apart. (Not that the family would necessarily care; one of the beautiful things about evangelicals is that they care more about what God thinks than what the MSM thinks -- an inspiring trait). My sense, however, is that it's #3; the reporter's interest in the faith of the Wilkerson family is only incidental to his interest in the fortunes of the Democrats. Even so, it's good to see at least a somewhat respectful treatment of evangelical Christians in a paper like The Boston Globe.


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