Can Someone Hire a Religion Tutor for CNN Reporters?

The media's ham-handed attempts at grasping and accurately reporting religious belief are have only been magnified recently in light of the MSM's obsession with Gov. Sarah Palin's prior attendance at Pentecostal churches. From Randi Kaye's September 9 CNN.com article, "Pastor: GOP may be downplaying Palin's religious beliefs":

Some Pentecostals from Assembly of God also believe in "faith healing" and the "end times" -- a violent upheaval that they believe will deliver Jesus Christ's second coming. "Our basic belief is that God is God and he knows where history is going and he has a purposeful plan and within the middle of that plan we live in an environment in our world where certain events would take place," says McGraw. "Sarah wasn't taught to look for one particular sign -- a cataclysmic sign. She knew as every Christian does ... that God is sovereign and he is in control."

The language above seems to paint Pentecostals as on the fringe of Christianity, and Kaye's use of dismissive quote marks for "faith healing" and "end times" helps to communicate that to the reader. But the concept of the end times is not a wacky, outside-the-mainstream of Christianity belief. It's essential to the eschatology of all orthodox Christian denominations and rooted in Christian Scripture (from Theopedia.com):

End times is a popular term used when referring to various interpretations of the Book of Revelation and other prophetic parts of the Bible, such as the Book of Daniel and various sayings of Jesus in the Gospels concerning the timing of Christ's Second Coming and the establishment of his kingdom. There are various views concerning the order of events leading up to and following the return of Jesus and the significance of these events.

Palin's former pastor explained to Kaye that the bottom line is God is sovereign over all creation and history. This concept is also hardly the exclusive province of Pentecostalism, but an essential belief of all orthodox Christians regardless of denomination.Moving on, Kaye picked up on two prayers Palin offered at a Pentecostal church, as if her requests were weird or beyond the pale of mainstream Christianity (emphasis mine):

Six years ago, Palin left Assembly of God to join the non-denominational Wasilla Bible Church. But the Assembly of God says she still returns for special conferences and events, such as the graduation of ministry students in June. Video of a speech she gave at the church just two months before joining the Republican ticket is making the rounds on the Internet. Speaking of the troops in Iraq, Palin says on the video, "Pray for our military men and women who are striving do to what is right. Also for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending them out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for -- that there is a plan, and that plan is God's plan."Her campaign says she doesn't mix her faith with government business. But Palin did ask her audience to pray for a $30 billion natural gas pipeline she is on a mission to build in Alaska. In the video Palin says, "I think God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas pipeline built. So pray for that ... I can do my job there in developing my natural resources. But all of that doesn't do any good if the people of Alaska's heart is not good with God."

Hardly an earth-shaking revelation. Perhaps Kaye is unfamiliar with a well-venerated Republican forebear of Gov. Palin, Abraham Lincoln:

"We trust, Sir, that God is on our side." "It is more important to know that we are on God's side."

To pray for God's blessing while also remembering that we are sinners whose hearts need to be right with God is hardly a crazy fringe concept in Christian faith traditions. To try to drum it up like it is betrays an arguably willful ignorance of Christianity by the mainstream media.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters