Media Blog #1
As outlined in our Badaracco text, a person cannot divorce themselves from their theological moorings – instead, their views are the prism that refracts their beliefs into whatever they touch. Such is also the case for journalists and commentators. Their “religious imagination” informs everything, from what they report on to how.
Cal Thomas, an evangelical Christian, is no exception. Take his article “The Beginning of the End of the Religious Right?” (http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2007/05/closing_one_door_opening_anoth.html) The title alone indicates an interest in mixing religion with politics. The article details the closing of The Center for Reclaiming America, a foundation created to inject conservative values into the country’s supposedly declining moral makeup. The article clearly points to Thomas’ brand of evangelicalism. Badaracco characterizes protestant beliefs as being polarizing by nature, citing the evangelical tendency to stress the differences between various positions. This is apparent as Thomas writes, “Politics is about compromise. The message of the church is about Truth” (yes, he even capitalized ‘truth’). This strident, black-and-white language is the perfect exhibit of Badaracco’s categorization of Protestant religion.
Another example of this is Thomas’ article titled “Grand Compromise Brings More Spending.” (http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/thomas122110.php3) The title itself points to a decisive viewpoint with little room for middle ground. It is a perfect example of the “culture wars” that Badaracco cites as the mentality of protestants. The following article utilizes extreme language and leaves the reader with the notion that the compromise equates a government handout. The religious imagination of Thomas is not a world of rainbows and unicorns but one of clearly drawn battle lines and clearly delineated enemies. It is similar to the mindset outlined in Badaracco, in which the author outlines the different sides (feminist, liberals, and gays on one side, conservatives on the other). Following this vein of thinking, this article is a platform for Thomas to rail against Democrats and their approach to government.
In his article, “Explaining Evil,” (http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/thomas011111.php3) Thomas tackles the shooting of Arizona representative Gabrielle Giffords. While he is quick to call the shooting “pointless” and offer empathy to Giffords and the other victims, he is just as quick to promote his party lines. Sarah Palin is not to blame, gun control is not the answer, and he references C.S. Lewis, a famously Christian author. He articulates in no uncertain terms why a liberal response – to consider what responsibility the gun seller has, to consider whether Palin’s words were incendiary enough to spark the assassination attempt – is the incorrect one. He praises the response McCain, who called for the shooter to be brought to full justice of the law. Thomas says McCain’s quote is “moral clarity,” a strong voice amid the tolerant babble of liberalism.
With his strong language and seemingly inflexible views, Thomas’ writing is steeped in a lexicon of Protestantism and point to a value system that falls into Badarraco’s “culture war” category. It stands in opposition to the more gentler Catholic view of “similarity in differences” and is a distinct voice in the cultural dialogue of our times.
Media Blog #1