The Washington Post news pages once off-handedly described evangelical Christians as “poor, uneducated, and easy to command.” The Post’s religion writer finds “worrisome” the “fecundity” of religious politicians with too many kids. And, now we learn that at least one news reporter covering gay marriage considers Catholic teaching on marriage — and the teaching of most world religions — to be the moral equivalent of racism.
Mollie Hemingway at Get Religion has a good response that brought my attention to a very interesting aspect of this ombudsman piece. Here’s how Patrick Pexton, the ombudsman, explains the Post’s clear partiality against traditional teachings on marriage:
…most journalists have a problem with religionists telling people what they can and cannot do. We want to write words, read books, watch movies, listen to music, and have sex and babies pretty much when, where and how we choose.
Hemingway points out that “religionists” is a silly slur for a newspaperman to use. But set that aside for a moment.
I’m interested in the libertarian streak Pexton assigns to his colleagues. “most journalists have a problem with religionists telling people what they can and cannot do.”
1) Why only “religionists”? Why don’t most Post journalists have a problem with statists telling people what they can and cannot do? President Obama tells me I must own health insurance, I effectively cannot buy incandescent light bulbs, I cannot run my business according to Catholic teaching on contraception. Restaurant owners cannot allow smoking. DC tells me how to rent out my house. What about owning a gun? Do “most journalists” have a problem with the government telling me I can’t do that?
2) Is Post religion Lisa Miller writer an exception to this rule, in Pexton’s opinion? She seems to have a problem with Republicans who have too much fertile sex and thus too many babies.
3) Is state-endorsement of gay relationships really about leaving people alone? Is any “religionist” really pushing to ban homosexual sex or cohabitation?
Given the Post’s history of antipathy towards religion, and its general lack of a libertarian streak in other matters, a simpler explanation than Pexton’s strikes me: journalists at the Washington Post begin with an antagonistic view of traditional religion.