Hey, Media: Tone Down the 'Theocracy' Fears
Journos' 'language of conspiracy' stems from lack of understanding: Ross Douthat
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 29, 2011 12:57 PM CDT
Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., speaks to supporters during a campaign stop at Angie's Subs in Jacksonville Beach, Fla., Friday, Aug. 26, 2011.   (AP Photo/Rick Wilson)

(Newser) – Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry’s time in the spotlight has brought back a “fear of theocracy” not seen since the days of George W. Bush. Liberals are concerned that “Christian extremism is again on the march,” writes Ross Douthat in the New York Times. And while it’s fair for the media to question how candidates’ faiths might influence their policy, Douthat wishes journalists would follow some key ground rules:

  • Remember that conservative Christianity has its own centers and fringes; don’t count the radicals as the best representatives of a given viewpoint.

  • Ditch double standards. “If you roll your eyes when conservatives trumpet Barack Obama’s links to Chicago socialists and academic radicals, you probably shouldn’t leap to the conclusion that Bachmann’s more outré law school influences prove she’s a budding Torquemada.”
  • Tone down “the language of conspiracy”: Republicans aren’t necessarily using “code words” for their base. They’re just using “the everyday language of an America that’s more biblically literate than the national press corps.”
  • Remember that conservative Christian politicians are generally better at “mobilizing their religious constituents than those constituents have been at claiming any sort of political ‘dominion’” once their representative is in office. Often, the grand language of Christian conservatism isn’t a sign of “religious conservatism’s growing strength and looming triumph, but evidence of its persistent disappointments and defeats.”
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