Two Views of One Wall (1996)

The Church vs. Media; Media vs. the Church 

If you want to find unity in a room full of religious leaders, just ask them what they think of the news media.

A much-debated 1993 study of attitudes among clergy and journalists stated the obvious: "A chasm of misunderstanding and ignorance separates those who pursue careers in the secular news- media field and those whose careers are in the field of religion." This report from the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center found "two alien cultures, the media and religion -- one rooted largely in a search for facts and the other grounded in a discovery of faith beyond fact."

You can call it a chasm. I prefer to call it a wall. Whatever you call it, what we have here is a failure to communicate.

For nearly two decades, I've been beating my head on this wall that separates two worlds -- religion and the secular media. Most of this "research" came while working as a religion writer in secular newspapers and I continue to write a nationally syndicated column on religion news.

It's easy for religious people to pound away at folks in the secular media. Lord knows we deserve it, more often than not.

However, this walls has two sides. During the past five years or so, my experiences working with seminaries, parachurch groups and other religious institutions have forced me to take a second look at this wall. More on that later.