The Media, Evangelicals, and Sarah Palin

Readers take issue with my post on why Sarah Palin's new PAC is mum on her faith.

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By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country

Lots of you responded to my speculation about why the website of Sarah Palin's new PAC is mum on her faith and her stances on traditional values issues, and many of you were not happy, alleging that I'm picking on the Alaska governor because of her conservative Christian faith. Among the charges of religious discrimination:

Greg of Minnesota:

Does that mean we should probe, and question Jewish candidates, Catholic candidates, how about Lutheran candidates? No, the media would be very reluctant to do that, but those, such as yourself, seem obsessed about Evangelical candidates. If you are going to be so obsessed with them, you should browbeat the others as well.

Rieve of Arkansas:

It never ceases to amaze me how the media is always infatuated or "concerned" with the viewpoints of evangelical Christians. How come Mr Gilgoff does not feel at all concerned about the faith of other candidates? It is only those who they demonize as "Christian conservative" that have to divulge on their views of faith, etc. Let's ask others such as Joe Biden how he deals with the abortion issue since he is a Catholic ... or Obama—what all did he learn during his early years in Indonesia?

In decades past, such charges against the news media might have had a lot more merit. You can make a pretty strong case that the news media treated Pat Robertson's 1988 presidential campaign entirely as a faith-based operation, even though the candidate emphasized issues like foreign policy. These days, however—largely as a response to Robertson's and the wide Christian right's successful injection of religion into politics—the news media is interested in the faith lives of all candidates and elected officials who claim to have one, not just evangelicals and socially conservative Republicans like Palin. One of the biggest stories of the 2008 campaign cycle was Barack Obama's connection to fiery Chicago preacher Jeremiah Wright. The Catholic Joe Biden's pro-choice stance—at odds with the Roman Catholic Church—received a fair amount of attention, too.

This blog launched after Election Day 2008, but it has closely covered the role of religion in the Obama transition, inauguration, and administration. It hasn't singled out evangelicals. The two elected officials I've interviewed in God & Country so far are new Louisiana Rep. Anh 'Joseph' Cao, a Catholic, and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, a Jew. I try not to "browbeat" anyone, as one commenter suggests, but I do inquire about the role of religion in politicians' lives without regard to the traditional they affiliate with.