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Top NYT Editor Confesses: We Don’t Understand Religion At All

New York Times building. Wikipedia Commons.

In an interview with WNYC’s “Fresh Air” The New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet admits his newspaper knows nothing about religion or the role it plays in people’s lives.

I want to make sure that we are much more creative about beats out in the country so that we understand that anger and disconnectedness that people feel. And I think I use religion as an example because I was raised Catholic in New Orleans. I think that the New York-based and Washington-based too probably, media powerhouses don’t quite get religion. We have a fabulous religion writer, but she’s all alone. We don’t get religion. We don’t get the role of religion in people’s lives. And I think we can do much, much better. And I think there are things that we can be more creative about to understand the country.

This admission will come as no surprise to anyone who’s ever attended a church service once in his or her life and read basically anything the NYT has published about religion. The newspaper has a long-running history of really bad screw-ups. For example, the newspaper of record apparently thought Christians think Christ’s body is still buried.

A quick read through any of the gospels makes it clear that Christians believe Christ’s body is nowhere to be found on earth because he rose again from his tomb three days after his crucifixion. His death is observed on Good Friday, and his resurrection is celebrated on Easter Sunday. You can read through Mollie Hemingway’s excellent column here for further explanation.

There’s also that time a reporter who was filing stories from Vatican City thought Easter was about Jesus’s ascension into heaven. Apparently he didn’t know that Jesus ascended to heaven 40 days after his resurrection and that his resurrection is what Christians celebrate on Easter.

NYT was also very confused about Protestant denominations, citing the United Church of Christ as the largest Protestant denomination in America. They’re not, but maybe the reason the Times thought they were so influential and important is because the United Church of Christ rejects biblical teachings on sexual morality.

Also, just a few months ago, NYT political reporter Jeremy W. Peters claimed the book of Romans called for the execution of gays. Yet as Hemingway wrote on the matter in June, the book of Romans does not call for homosexuals to be executed. It’s a letter penned by the Apostle Paul to believers in Rome explaining that we are all born into sin and without the saving work of Jesus Christ are therefore all destined for eternal damnation, to be forever separated from Christians’ triune God. This ought not to bring anyone despair, because we can be saved from our sins — including our sexual sins — through the Lord’s grace and divine mercies.

Here’s a little bit more about the portion of scripture in question.

Anywho, the member of Congress read the section on idolatry. It talks about how God is revealed in nature and how God reveals laws to His people. But the people’s hearts are hardened and they reject God. Paul writes candidly about how homosexual activity exchanges a natural desire for the opposite sex with a lust for one’s own. And yes, he really is talking about homosexual activity.

So there you have it, a reporter for The New York Times badly misinterprets a major book of the Bible and goes as far as to claim that Christians believe gays should be executed. These examples are just a few of the Times‘s many, many blunders when they attempt to cover religion — a subject they’re now openly admitting they know nothing about.

At the heart of it, the biggest problem isn’t these inaccuracies, it’s that these errors are symptomatic of a larger problem.The New York Times staff, by one of their top editors’ own admission, are an irreligious group of people who have a very different worldview and belief system from the vast majority of Americans. No wonder they got every single turn of the election completely wrong and can’t seem to comprehend what motivates the 83 percent of Americans who identify as Christians.

Perhaps this newfound self-awareness from one of the newspaper’s top dogs will spur the media giant to add some new reporters and create a newsroom culture of intellectual and religious diversity. One can hope, anyway.