Religious news and information sources
darn lies, statistics, etc.
on the Internet related to religion, morality,
ethics, human sexuality, and culture.
Since the startup of this web site in 1995, we have been
continually amazed at the level of bias, misinformation, confusing reporting,
and disinformation being spread by some religious and secular news sources.
This seems to
have reached very high levels in late 2009 with the introduction of the federal
hate-crimes legislation. An earlier hate-crimes law had protected people from violent crimes motivated by the perpetrator's hatred of their race, skin color, religion or national origin. The new bill was signed into law during 2009-OCT. It added four new protected classes: gender, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Because "sexual orientation" includes homosexual, in addition to heterosexual and bisexual orientation, the bill ignited a firestorm of opposition from many religious and social conservatives. Even though the law protects every human in the U.S. -- heterosexuals, bisexuals homosexuals and probably asexuals -- equally against hate-motivated crimes, it was viewed by many as a law that gives special privileges and protections to lesbians and gays.
As the major federal elections of 2012-NOV approached, and later during the windup to the elections, misinformation and disinformation again reached new heights.
The good news is that these news sources rarely lie.
However, some sources can be seen to bend the truth. They may:
Provide only their own assessment of the topic while remaining
silent about alternate views. For example, some websites teach that homosexuality is defined as a behavior that is chosen, abnormal, unnatural, changeable and intrinsically disordered. They ignore conclusions reached by all the major psychiatric, psychologist, counseling professional agencies, etc. that homosexuality is an orientation that is discovered, normal and natural for a minority of adults, fixed in adulthood, and not a disorder or mental illness. Without open dialogue, these two belief systems will continue to exist even if neither side is totally correct.
Ignore contradictory evidence that shows their opinions to be
false, or at least suspect. For example, some religious websites promote the belief that Post Abortion Syndrome (PAS) -- a major depression triggered in women who have terminated a pregnancy with an abortion -- is a very common phenomenon. Again, mental health professional organizations have studied PAS and found that it is rare. One side is certainly wrong. Although there would seem to be an obligation on both sides to find out where the truth lies, again there does not seem to be any active dialogue.
Emphasize part of the news, while simply not reporting other
parts. One example is a TV ad prepared by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). NOM is the main national group attempting to prevent loving committed same-sex couples from marrying. It included an actor saying: ""I am part of a New Jersey church group punished by the government because we cannot support same-sex marriage." The ad is referring to the Ocean Grove Boardwalk Pavilion who received state and federal funding on the basis that it would remain a "public accommodation" -- providing a location for marriage and civil union ceremonies for the entire public. NOM didn't mention that the owners of the pavilion -- a Methodist group -- had refused a lesbian couple permission to hold their civil union because of the owner's religious beliefs. This violated the contract with the two levels of government, and the church group's tax exempt status was revoked. The solution in this case would be for a fact checking group to evaluate the accuracy of this and similar ads. That group would have to have a conservative political and religious position in order to be accepted by religious and social conservatives.
Explain the news in a way that often leads a reader to assume
that something happened other than what really occurred. For example, many web sites prominently display two large numbers: the number of abortions performed annually by Planned Parenthood and the total federal taxpayer dollars that went to Planned Parenthood each year. The two numbers are unrelated to each other because no federal funding goes to perform abortions. But visitors were expected to jump to the incorrect conclusion that all the federal money went to fund Planned Parenthood's abortion program which totals about 3% of the services that they make available. Again, the solution would be for a conservative fact checking group to evaluate these web sites.
Reporting information from other news source's without prior fact checking. For example, an evangelical Christian author who believes in a young earth misunderstood the nature of the "leap second" -- a timekeeping adjustment that adjusts for the continual deceleration of the earth's rotation. His invalid calculations indicated that if the earth coalesced 4.5 billion years ago as estimated by many different scientific methods, it would have been rotating so fast back then that it would have flattened like a pancake. In spite many scientific websites that pointed out the error in the author's calculations, the "pancake theory" was picked up by many religious information sources as proof of a young earth. We attempted to dialogue with many of these creationist web sites to remove the error, but were unable to convince any of them to correct their web sites. A conservative fact checking group would at least highlight information sources that replicate errors.
It is our hope that people visiting this site will become more
skeptical after reading some of
the ways in which religious and secular media inject bias into their coverage. If many
people Email complaints to these news sources, those
companies may realize that they are
losing credibility -- the most precious asset of any news or information source.
We also hope that teachers can make use of this material to help
their students develop analytical techniques -- "bologna detectors" -- to separate
real information from disinformation and misinformation.
Finally, we hope that the future will see genuine dialogue between opposing groups in the religious and human sexuality fields, and that an effective conservative fact checking organization will be established.
A half-decade has passed since the above words were written. No obvious move towards the esablishment of such an organization has been taken.
Topics covered in this section:
LGBT is an an acronym of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and transgender
persons/Transsexuals. So is other variations like GLBT, GLBTQ, GLBTI, etc. where
"Q" refers to queer or questioning, and "I" refers to intersexual.
Copyright © 2009 to 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2009-NOV-03
Latest update: 2016-JAN-25
Author: B.A. Robinson