On Thursday, outgoing executive editor of the New York Times Bill Keller wrote one of the most proudly ignorant columns I have ever had the misfortune to read on the subject of religion and politics. In it, he strongly intimated that Presidential candidates — Republican Presidential candidates, actually, since he obviously didn’t feel that “God damn America” was worth serious news coverage — must set aside their personal beliefs or submit to his inquiry, likened the Catholic communion to the belief in space aliens, and labeled it “baggage”. I honestly don’t have the time or inclination to fisk such hypocritical bigotry, and it was both of those things, but a few other writers around the blogosphere such as Guy Benson and Mollie Hemingway did so convincingly.
I will say two things, though. First, Keller’s use of the Dominionism bogeyman proves to me that he is neither honest nor objective about evangelical Christianity. It would have taken him perhaps 30 minutes to read this post or this one to learn that what some have claimed is a large and threatening movement among evangelicals is minuscule and well on the fringe of the fringe. Actually, he didn’t even have to do that much. The New York Times has an entire Religion section, presumably with a few writers who know a thing or two about evangelical Christianity. He could have called one of his own reporters and learned what he needed to know. He didn’t.
There’s a bigger issue, though, about media bias to be made. If Keller had any evangelical Christian friends, he would never have written that piece. He doesn’t. He is surrounded by people who think like him all day, every day. Dr. Tim Groseclose, in his superlative book Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind, found that journalists lean even more to the left than such progressive enclaves at Berkeley and Cambridge. There’s a very good chance that Keller spends less than an hour of conversation every week with someone who isn’t ideologically just like him and I can guarantee you he doesn’t spend that hour trying to learn something about the majority of Americans who have religious beliefs and try hard to live up to them. What’s worse, I’m sure it’s never occurred to him that he should.