Newsweek Slammed

The most brutal review of that gay marriage article in Newsweek that I’ve read is by Mollie Ziegler at GetReligion.

It is no exaggeration to say the piece was an embarrassment. My analysis of the belly flop is here. On a radio show yesterday, the host asked me whether the piece was more offensive to my sensibilities as a journalist or a Christian. I went with “journalist” since the piece wasn’t anywhere legitimate enough, theologically speaking, to be considered seriously. As a journalist, it violated almost every rule in the book. It failed to accurately represent the viewpoint being scrutinized. It was riddled with errors. It was driven by emotion. More than a few journalists — one at a competing weekly news magazine — wrote to me yesterday asking, “Where was her editor?” …

So where was her editor, then? A good editor helps shape the story, makes sure it’s well researched and reported, notices blatant mistakes or errors in logic or of bias. Well, I have bad news. Based on his editor’s note, Meacham completely failed Miller and her readers.

She quotes Meacham’s introduction, where he says, “this conservative resort to biblical authority is the worst kind of fundamentalism.”

Yes, that’s right. The editor of Newsweek thinks that argument from the Bible is “the worst kind of fundamentalism.” Can you believe that? Can that be serious? Proper exegesis is difficult and requires a great deal of understanding of languages, types of writing styles, history and tradition — but determining what the Bible teaches is very serious work. Lutherans such as myself believe that Scripture is the only divine source and the norm for our teachings. That may be shocking to a liberal Episcopalian but to call such exegesis intellectually bankrupt is ignorant. And Biblical exegesis sort of defines the “great Judeo-Christian tradition.” Perhaps Meacham’s focus on civil religion and American history has made him blind to this fact.

We’ve noticed the tendency of the media to use the term “fundamentalist” to describe any conservative Christian. There was a particularly bad example of this in the Los Angeles Times earlier this year when I think the author was using “fundamentalist” to mean “people whose politics I disagree with.”

But if the worst kind of fundamentalist is someone who quotes Scripture in a policy discussion, the word fundamentalist has no meaning.