Moral Uncertainty ≠ Political Might

For my daily dose of news I usually read the BBC, as opposed to any American news network, since it tends to be a bit more objective in cases of American electoral debates and foreign policy than does anything domestic. Usually, I think that holds true. But like anything, the BBC too has its shortcomings, and quite often they seem to surface by way of a distinctively non-theist bias toward many different sorts of stories and coverage. Simply reading the comments on some of their web-based articles—which reflect mostly the mentality of their British reader base—is enough to evidence this claim. Nevertheless, I think the decidedly non-theist bent is something increasingly popular in news reporting worldwide, and a phenomenon that we cannot overlook as a matter of sheer coincidence.

In a recent comparison of U.S. vice-presidential candidates, the British Broadcasting Corporation published a series of verbal blunders from each candidate in an attempt to predict a possible outcome of Thursday evening's debate. While most were somewhat alarming, some were simply funny; but one seemed out of sorts, and caused me to think a little deeper into the objectivity of the reporting. (Or at least, I should say, into the effort of the reporter to think critically and not simply superficially about the material being published.) The clip I am writing of is this:

Speaking to graduating students at her former Wasilla Assembly of God Church in June, Mrs Palin suggested a natural gas pipeline project had divine backing. "I can do my part in doing things like working really, really hard to get a natural gas pipeline, about a $30bn project that's going to create a lot of jobs for Alaskans and we'll have a lot of energy flowing through here. And pray about that also. I think God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas pipeline built, so pray for that." (BBC)

The "problem" here, I gather, is an assertion that Sarah Palin seeks to invoke divine support for economic and commercial projects, and will similarly do so as Vice President of the United States. I, on the other hand, gathered something altogether different from the quote cited. It seems eminently important to consider, as part of the quotation, the context in which it was uttered. If she were speaking to the Senate, that would be one thing. But she wasn't. She was speaking to a group of graduates from a Christian college, and not just any college but rather her own alma mater. Is it really problematic, then, that she urged them to consider praying for a resolution to an issue of personal importance to her? Perhaps it may not have been the most prudent time to make such a statement, but the question is still: "Was it wrong?"

Unfortunately, as I've already noted a number of times, the continual tendency of U.S. citizens expecting lawmakers to be devoid of personal convictions—religious especially, but otherwise as well—is unnerving. Although this instance from a BBC article is hardly something to throw a fit over, it does provide a glimpse into a problem much larger than isolated columns in far corners of the internet. It represents, I would suggest, a growing mentality, and one that shows no signs of coming to terms with the obvious and rational considerations that anyone well-versed in democratic theory could outline: namely, that lawmakers are elected to represent the wishes of the populace, and that they are elected precisely because they are known to believe certain things. If we seek to neuter our government officials of all conscientious potency, then we have only to continue along the path which we've so ardently been pursuing. I think it's naive. And if properly informed of just what is occurring, I think the majority of Americans would believe so too.

  1. gravatar

    # by The Cellarer - October 3, 2008 at 7:09 PM

    The BBC are notoriously anti religion. Even their religious content grates, programmes such as Radio 4's 'Beyond Belief' regularly get people such as Peter Stanford and Christine Odone on to misrepresent the faith.