I think this is pretty funny that after NPR did a report on an evangelical church that has become so large it is establishing branch campuses that some listeners wrote to complain about them proselytizing.
I just finished reading your column on religion reporting and I must agree with the sentiment of many of the listeners you quoted. NPR’s coverage of religion, especially Catholicism, has increased at an alarming rate. Sylvia Poggioli’s near-daily reporting of the Pope’s schedule is disturbing. I cannot remember the last time I heard about the travels of leaders of the worlds other prominent religions. What’s the Dalai Lama up to these days? Does anyone at NPR know?
From Terri Dziekonski:
I have lately come to believe that the "R" in NPR stands for religion. Why do we have to have a comment from a conservative minister on almost every news item reported? And, why does everything that goes on of a religious bent have to be reported in great detail. The coverage of the Pope’s death was not the only incidence of this. There seems to me to be a distinctly right leaning to the reporting on NPR these days and I, for one, am not happy with it.
And from Jo Sullivan:
I did not write last week, but I too am dismayed and disgusted by the outpouring of religion that you have put on your programs in recent months. I do not listen to NPR to be proselytized. Christians have their own stations, and spend billions to get their message out. Why give them a free venue? Are you catering the current administration?
Reporting Is Not Preaching
Walter Watson is the senior producer of Weekend All Things Considered. He disagrees that the aim of the report was to proselytize:
Religion — and not just Protestantism — plays an increasingly important part of American life in politics, education and culture. We thought it was important to show how some churches are growing quickly, and how they plan to extend their influence. Some public radio listeners may object to hearing about this, but we think that it’s significant and we need to report it, even if it may make some of our long-time listeners uncomfortable.
It is true that NPR has deliberately increased its coverage of religion compared to a few years ago. The roles of religion in America and in the Middle East must be followed; they are news stories that affect the listeners. A complete list of stories on religion can be found on the NPR.org Religion topic page (see link below). Unquestionably, there has been a lot of reporting on the topic.
Too Much of a ‘God’ Thing?
I don’t doubt Walter Watson when he says the church story was valuable. But the sheer volume of stories about religion is overwhelming many listeners. Perhaps NPR News should monitor the overall amount of airtime devoted to this one subject. (I am not counting the reports of NPR’s Barbara Bradley-Hagerty, whose religion reporting is erudite and balanced).
Even as many listeners sense that NPR is giving too much airtime to prominent religious groups, they also ask that NPR report on developments in other religions that address the spiritual questions of the day.
To which, one can only say, "Amen."
I wonder what "sheer volume of stories about religion is overwhelming many listeners" would be for NPR? Two or three stories in a week unless of course it is the Dalai Lama, Buddhist, or new age related. No doubt the complainers are the same people who are always invoking multiculturalism ,tolerance, and understanding. Even funnier is that they want a program called “All things considered” to not consider all things.