The Great XMas Card Relocation Scandal
Last comment by Bryant 4 years, 3 months ago.

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When I was a journalist, it bothered me not to be considered a “professional.” But journalists aren’t. They don’t require any sort of licensing. Many never pass any sort of formal test before acquiring their positions. In a world continually obsessed with getting information in real time, many journalists do their job with minimal oversight or follow-up. The pay is crap. The work is hard. The public scrutiny is intense and, it must be said, often led by the dumbest, loudest voice in the room.

It used to bother me that journalists weren’t professionals.

Enter Todd Starnes. Starnes, for the uninitiated, is the unrepentant blowhard with a Fox News Radio program who helped stir Bulloch County’s oppressed Christian minority into a frenzy with his report of relocated Christmas cards and subsequent piece about the county's ongoing campaign against all things Jesus. He posts a Bible verse on his Facebook page every morning but deletes comments critical of his “journalistic” methods. In the Christmas card case, those methods included interviewing a single source (a j-school no-no), not presenting the accusations in the interview to anyone who might be able to confirm/refute/explain the situation (a bigger no-no) and then inserting the one-sided tidbit into a cookie-cutter narrative known as “The War On Christmas” (this pretty much disqualifies Starnes from describing what he does as “journalism” at all, but there is no governing body to strip him of the power to call himself whatever he wants).

If there is a War On Christmas, then Christmas is winning in a landslide. Commercials featuring luxury cars with big red bows started running during “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” and won’t let up until Valentine’s Day. Lights are still up in every neighborhood. Churches are still gathering and spreading the Good Word and schools will recess for the holiday.

But Starnes’ ilk doesn’t care to admit that the only people fighting any sort of real battle at Christmas are the ones who can’t pay for the toys their children want; the ones who try to walk closer to the scripture and the truly moving religious epiphany of a messiah’s birth. The people battling Christmas are small, scared knots of non-Christians who would just really, really like it if they could get a little break from ubiquity of Christianity when they go school or otherwise enter the spaces we share as a people in this country. These folks have done nothing other than deign to believe in another path to redemption, glory and a life beyond life. Or not to believe at all.

There is nothing wrong with Christianity or Christmas. Or Islam. Or Hinduism. Or the Baha’i faith. Or tree worship. Or the Church of the Fonz. Or whatever. But a lot of folks are doing religion wrong.

Again: A lot of people are doing religion wrong.

Quote scripture all you like. You’re quoting the scripture of YOUR book, your messiah, your god. Not everyone’s. And in the public square—including schools, courthouses and, in a perfect world, journalism—religious dogma has no place interfering with the business at hand. Faith is taught in the places of religion and in the home. At school, keep your god—whoever he/she/it is—to yourself. And if, by extension, I choose to say “holidays” instead of “Christmas,” that’s my right. I don’t care if you say “Christmas.” Why do you care if I say otherwise?

Letting someone with more radio affiliates than journalistic integrity dictate the way we discuss the place of religion in our community is a bad use of mental energy. He’s no professional, after all. And I’m okay saying it.

Latest Activity: Dec 05, 2013 at 9:18 PM

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Bryant commented on Friday, Dec 06, 2013 at 13:48 PM

Well said, son.

I believe the Herald is doing an admirable job of trying to cut through the BS and outline the facts. And I applaud the school board for their efforts in getting the facts out - as opposed to the strident voices decrying the assault on Christmas.

theflyonthewall commented on Friday, Dec 06, 2013 at 19:36 PM

If Fox gave the assault on Christmas a rest, their " journalists" would have to start working again.

Hutch commented on Friday, Dec 06, 2013 at 21:46 PM

Good blog. I usually don't have time to blob but when I read your thoughts, I felt that I needed to let you read mine.

I agree with some of your ideas. Fox's tag lines of "we report, you decide" and "fair and balanced" is, for the most part, a load of hogwash.

I disagree with other points. "And in the public square—including schools, courthouses and, in a perfect world, journalism—religious dogma has no place interfering with the business at hand. Faith is taught in the places of religion and in the home. At school, keep your god—whoever he/she/it is—to yourself."

If my rememberance of history serves me right, this country was founded and forged by men and women who were looking for religious freedom, not freedom from religion. Religion was an integral part of the government, the judicial system and yes, public education.

Most of the traditional MORALS in society are based on religious ideals and principles. And yes, these morals are taught in the classroom (Don't Steal Little Johnny's pencil; Don't Copy from Little Johnny's paper, etc.)

Having Bible verses up on the wall does not interfere with the business at hand any more than having poster of a famous football player on the wall or a celebrity.

It's all in how its perceived. What is good for one person is bad for another. I made a statement to a student at school today....It's only ............ if you think it's .............

But getting back to Fox (or CNN or ABC or CBS or NBC) and journalism...unbiased reporting has taken a back seat to what used to be called "yellow journalism." Sensationalism...who can get the best ratings or the most readership.

Good topic of discussion.

interestedbystander commented on Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 at 09:57 AM

I am interested to know if those who are pushing for their own religious beliefs to be observed or promoted in the public schools will be equally as supportive if others with differing religious beliefs expect the same.

I think the BOE is wise enough to realize that they would have a whole different controversy on their hands if someone of the Jewish, or Muslim, or other religious belief starting exposing kids to their religion. I do not mean that the other religions are bad, they are just different, and if it is okay to promote Christianity, then it is okay to promote something else.

The bottom line is, those who are so vocal about the current issue with the BOE would probably be even more vocal if "little Johnny" came home with a Star of David drawing which was part of his day's activities in "Mrs. Rosenblatt's" class.

Be careful what you ask for, because you may just get it!

SusanS commented on Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 at 11:04 AM

Nice bashing guys. Quite honestly, there are "blowhards" on both sides of the fence. whenever we lump them only into one category, we are stereotyping...something I thought journalists "used" to try not to do.
there are many sides to the ongoing issue in our county, and many mistakes have been made on just about all sides. I will applaud and respect those who stand up and take responsibility for their errors. But I do not support just bashing one particular venue.

SusanS commented on Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 at 12:05 PM

Intesrestedbystander.... this question has been broached several times. No one is asking for their "own" religious beliefs to be promoted. This is where there are been misinformation. they are only asking their their religious beliefs not be singled out.
I would support that no matter what the religious faith was, and even if it was no religious faith at all. every person has the right to their own beliefs, and every person has the right to express it respectfully.
to answer your question... yes in fact, our faculty and county employees are and always have been totally fine with the mixture of religious views. no one is asking to be able to witness to anyone or push their faith on anyone. Our teachers are committed to teaching their subject. What they do not like is the fact that a specific faith was suddenly targeted. That is never okay - no matter what the faith or viewpoint. And the sad art is that they hadn't done anything wrong.
I will repeat this because it is inherently important here... NO ONE has pushed their faith on anyone, nor has anyone asked to be able to do so.
And by the way........... I have Jewish blood in my veins and I do take your last comment personally. If little Johnny wanted to wear his Star of David, it ought not be a problem.
Sorry but your attitude is part of the problem.

Bryant commented on Thursday, Dec 26, 2013 at 16:58 PM

Hutch, your memory does not serve you well. This country was founded partially by people seeking religious freedom. It was also founded and built by people who were seeking to make their fortunes, debtors (and other prisoners from England), refugees, and people with other motives.

And, can we have verses from the Quran on the wall as well?

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