Here is the sort of ridiculousness that makes people distrust the media. The Minneapolis Star Tribune published a story that breathlessly proclaims that "More people say there should be less of a Christian emphasis placed on the holidays" making it appear that a Christian Christmas is falling into disfavor with the American people. Wow, how dire for Christianity! Yet when you look closer at the story, it turns out that only 27% of those responding to a poll are saying such a thing. It happens that 64% say there should be more focus on the birth of Jesus during Christmas. So, with such an overwhelming percentage in favor of the religious content of Christmas why is the headline focused on the anti-Christian sentiment? As a result of that negative focus, should someone simply read the headline, a false impression that contradicts the facts is quickly fostered.
But even as the headline and first few paragraphs of the story is focused on a negative reaction to the Christian content of Christmas, the actual stats show that the great preponderance of Americans are strongly in favor of the religious nature of the season. Still, the first two paragraphs of the story wallow in the negative.
While a majority of American adults still believe that Jesus should be the focus of the holiday season, a growing segment of the population disagrees.
A recent poll conducted by the Rasmussen Reports found that 27 percent of respondents said that there should be less of a Christian emphasis on the holidays. That's up 10 percentage points from a year ago when just 17 percent of adults felt that way.
But wait. These supposedly anti-Christian Christmas celebrants are no where near a majority.
Still, 64 percent of respondents said that the holiday season should focus more on the birth of Jesus. That's down one percentage point from 2006, when 65 percent felt that way, and eight percentage points from two years ago when 72 percent said Jesus should be the reason for the season.
Only the American media can see 64 percent approval as a reason to proclaim that "more people" are against something. Not only that, but those approving is only down 1 point from last year, a statistically meaningless move.
Additionally, the Star Tribune reports a 2 percent decline in people claiming they will attend church on Christmas Eve as "fewer Americans say they will attend" a church service.
Fewer Americans say they will attend a Christian church service on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day this year, with just 57 percent going to church this year, compared with 59 percent in 2006.
Yet, at the end of the story, we see the margin of error for this poll is 3 percentage points. So, in truth, the survey really shows a practically unchanging percentage of Christmas Eve church goers even as the Star Trib tries to make it seem like a downward trend.
In the final analysis, this story is unnecessarily focused on an anti-religious Christmas sentiment when the facts of the poll are overwhelmingly positive toward the religious aspect of the holiday. So, why did the Minneapolis Star Tribune feel it necessary to focus on the negative?
It seems pretty clear that their goal is to try and make this story as negative as possible quite despite the real statistics.
Don't you wonder why that is?