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Are Media More Likely to Attack Religion After the Catholic Sex Abuse Scandals?

Written by Sarah Seltzer for - News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice. Mainstream media coverage of religion and religiously-tinged ethics is a tricky thing. Religions, of course, by their very nature, maintain some un-proveable tenets, such as the existence of deities and the moral importance of rituals and holidays. But no one ever prefaces a journalistic mention of Moses or Jesus by calling them an "alleged prophet" or a "so-called holy man." There's a level of respect accorded to religion that few other unsubstantiated beliefs get. That's one of the problems women's rights advocates run up against in terms of media coverage of our movement, as our opponents are often motivated by religious dogma. Of course, covering people's most sacredly-held beliefs in a polite manner is a goal for media types who try hard not just to be objective and accurate, but also fair. Unfortunately, this often translates to simply giving both sides of a "moral issue" equal space to speak, without always interrogating the factual accuracy of their statements. This is why the "new atheist" crew like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens try so hard to emphasize the irrational and occasionally ludicrous aspects of religion--so that governments, parents, schools and journalists won't necessarily take the opinions of religious figures at face value. With the latest church scandal, their point may finally be getting through. The way the media has been approaching the most recent in a series of church child-abuse scandals may indicate the gradual beginning of a shift in coverage, a willingness for media interrogation not just of religious figures, but of outdated religious ideas. ...Continue reading this article at