Four years ago, Peter Jennings of ABC News hosted a two-hour special on "The Search for Jesus." On Monday, he returns to the subject in an even longer documentary, Jesus and Paul: The Word and the Witness (8 p.m. ET). Dallas Theological Seminary New Testament professor Darrell Bock, who critiqued the 2000 program, talked to Jennings about this new project.
Why is ABC so committed to religious programming of this type?
I have lived in the Muslim world, covering the Middle East, Russia, and Africa among many other assignments. I saw it was important to understand or try to understand the intersection between religion, spirituality, and life. Events in these and other locales got me interested in covering religion as a "news story." This coverage shows the deep interest in and pervasive nature of religion.
When I got back to this country I understood how religion impacts people how it intersects with people's daily life. As such, it is important to cover. So we did a Prime Time hour on modern Protestantism, then on Jerusalem, and then Jesus. It seemed reasonable to do Paul next.
What does it mean to cover religion as a "news story"?
This considers the impact and use of religion in people's daily lives. Coming back from overseas, I saw football players give credit to God for touchdowns, saw prisons make efforts to deal with criminals through religion, saw the impact of religious faith on the military, saw religion impact social debates, which evoked deep religious responses often with great passion.
America has a religious dimension that needed coverage. So we have done stories to cover the impact of religion, first by hiring Peggy Wehmeyer as a religion reporter who helped us appreciate this dimension of life better, then through ...1
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