When Jimmy Carter was elected President, Newsweek christened 1976 "The Year of the Evangelical." And if 1976 heralded the birth of the media reckoning with the crowd that took the Bible at least as seriously as did Carter, evangelicalism's 29-year-old public persona has come of age in 2005. Now we're on during prime time.
Except for cases still found in some placesLewis Lapham's "The Wrath of the Lamb" in the May issue of Harper's being one of themevangelicals can no longer complain about a media conspiracy against them. We're no longer overlooked, persecuted, discriminated against, and misquoted in the mainstream news media. Clarification: the term "news media" here doesn't include the opinion writers, whose voices in The New York Times, for example, still alternate between befuddlement at discovery of evangelicals (Had you any idea people like this existed?) and insulting them (They're the ones who believe that science and faith are mutually exclusive!). But enough about the continuing education of pundits like Frank Rich and Paul Krugman.
The news and features reporters, editors, and producers exhibit more awareness of complexity in the evangelical worldnow featuring Sojourners founder Jim Wallis, Focus on the Family's James Dobson, and voices in between. We're represented on PBS's The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, in David Van Biema's reporting for Time, and on NPR's Morning Edition.
Turn on the TV during sweeps season, and what do you see? Our newfound status became poignantly apparent the evening of May 20. That's when ABC's 20/20 anchor and correspondent Elizabeth Vargas explored "what really happened" during the Resurrection of Christ. This is the same Vargas who last year employed too many words to hype ...1
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