Monday, April 9, 2012

Open letter to David Gregory (of NBC's Meet the Press)

Mr. Gregory,

Regarding your recent Meet the Press entitled Faith in America.

To broadcast a program with a journalistic ethos that was so blatantly lacked an opposing or balancing voice was disappointing. Running so closely on the heals of the recent Congressional debacle in Washington in which important and deeply personal issues for women were discussed without a single woman on the panel was especially egregious. As an American citizen, U.S. military veteran, and proud Atheist/Rationalist/Humanist I am personally offended.

How is it that you can feel justified to speak about us with none of us in the room to speak for ourselves?

John Forest
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

To which, I add the following.

I understand that Meet the press is touted as a broadcast journalistic benchmark. I suggest that, if the recent edition on Faith in America is any indicator, they've fallen short of the mark and, perhaps, missed the bench. There is a place in the world for a set of backslapping religious apologists making unsubstantiated assertions. I submit that this place is not in the newsroom.

Allow me to be clear, if these same folks were saying the same things on, let's say, the Christian Broadcast Network, I would be among the first to stand for their right to engage in such activity. But, I draw the line at selectively infecting the slender thread of our national conversation still available to us through journalism.

Is it not sufficient that religious people are the vast majority? Is it not sufficient that believers own most everything, control most everything? Is it not sufficient that, despite these obvious facts, they subject us all to unending paranoid whining. None of us is allowed to pass a day without hearing how the clear and obvious majority of the population are treated as though they were a powerless minority. If we are to assume their view, they and/or their "values" are always under nefarious attack or in retreat. Apparently it is not sufficient that believers daily lay claim to a moral high ground where they "own" basic human values of decency and compassion.

I could scarcely do better than offer the words of the Pastor and Congressman from Missouri Emmanuel Cleaver, who stated on the show:

"Religion at it's very essence requires theological arrogance. Because we have to declare 'This is what I believe in. I believe this is the way'."

Pastor Cleaver went on to opine that religious arrogance could and should meet with diversity and tolerance. To which I respond, if this worked as well in real world practice as it does in high-minded oratory, the Pastor and I would be seeing much more eye-to-eye.

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