Jerry Johnston Interviews Michael Cromartie on the Media’s Representation of Christianity
Generally, complimentary does not describe the media’s representation of Christianity. Commendably, a group correcting this unawareness of religion is the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Directing the efforts is Michael Cromartie, Vice President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, DC. I asked Michael how he has directed his efforts to correct these misconceptions. He told me,
“Yes, well, in my position here at Ethics and Public Policy Center, as Director of what’s called the Evangelical Studies Program, I’ve often received a lot of phone calls from very smart members of the press, and the mainstream media, trying to understand conservative Evangelical Christianity and its relationship to public life. And in that position that I’m honored to have, I’ve received a lot of questions that were not very good. And so it occurred to me that journalists, while they know a lot about politics and are great writers, didn’t know a lot about American religions, much less American Christianity. So we started hosting luncheons for journalists, and bringing in historians, and theologians, and sociologists to help explain this religion dynamic in American life. Out of that grew a conference that I host, called the Faith Angle Forum, where we bring 20 journalists together for two and a half days to talk about three different topics related to religion and public life in America and around the world. As a result of that, I’ve been able to get to know people, like the late Christopher Hitchens, and other journalists in the American media, because they’ve come to my conference. And our purpose is to try and help educate them, so that as they cover politics, they keep running into what we call the faith angle. And if they want to know the faith of various politicians and how it influences their life, they need to know something about that faith.”
Cromartie credits the success of the venture to his attitude towards the non-religious. His attitude of considering them all “potential friends” and not “opponents”, is a suitable reminder as we engage, not just with unbelief, but interact personally with sincere men and women.