Dallas newspaper excludes secular voices

Over at SocraticMama, Anne Crumpacker (mother of Mason) is asking readers to sign a petition to include a secular voice in the Dallas Morning News (the interview with Mason Crumpacker was a very rare exception). As Anne says,

In my view, part of the problem is that Mason’s little interview, to the best of my knowledge, was the first time in over a year that the Dallas Morning News editorial staff had written about the secular point of view.

A quick look at the “Texas Faith” blog shows the last entry under “Atheists, agnostics and doubters” was published on September 28th, 2010. The title?

TEXAS FAITH: Why do we pray for Christopher Hitchens?

Have a look at that link: it’s totally pro-religion! It’s also a bit offensive, since Hitchens has explicitly requested that people not pray for him.

Newspapers are starting to recognize that any “faith” or “religion” section should include a voice for secularism as well.  If a newspaper has a section devoted to promulgating religion, it should, by all standards of fairness and free discussion, include humanist and secular pieces.  The Washington Post does it. Even the Chicago Tribune does it.  Texas, of course, is Texas, but it’s not immune to reason.

We can make a difference.  Go over to SocraticMama’s website, read her post, sign the petition at the bottom and, if you’re feeling really ambitious, write a letter to the managing editor (and post it in the comments section as well).  Thanks.

24 Comments

  1. Dominic
    Posted November 8, 2011 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    You may like this – thalking of Dallas – Tim Minchin from the Observer magazine on Sunday -
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2011/nov/06/tim-minchin-mocking-god-in-texas?newsfeed=true

    • Dominic
      Posted November 8, 2011 at 6:01 am | Permalink

      Thalking – a new way of talking. ahem.

      • Cliff Melick
        Posted November 8, 2011 at 11:18 am | Permalink

        definition: Thinking out loud.

    • Daniel Murphy
      Posted November 8, 2011 at 7:03 am | Permalink

      And related (not too tangentially, I hope) to the subject of whether “interfaith” should include no faith, there’s

      http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/13/opinion/13iht-edzizek.html — “Atheism is a legacy worth fighting for.”

      I thank the Baylor University professor of religion who contributed to the Pray for Hitchens piece for bringing Slavoj Zizek to my attention.

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 9, 2011 at 3:12 am | Permalink

      Delightful read, thanks Dom!

    • HaggisForBrainsDS7
      Posted November 9, 2011 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      Thanks for the Tim Minchin link. I love it that prayers for rain by Rick Perry failed, but it was raining when Tim left the building after his show.

  2. E.A. Blair
    Posted November 8, 2011 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    “Texas, of course, is Texas, but it’s not immune to reason.”

    Some individual Texans, perhaps, but not, I think, the state as a whole.

  3. Posted November 8, 2011 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    171 signatures at the moment

  4. Paul Havlak
    Posted November 8, 2011 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Texas has its problems, but the Houston Chronicle has been more helpful than not, especially these last few years.

    Marion Crumpacker’s story got a big boost from the Chronicle’s coverage, which did a good job with the Texas Freethought Convention in general.

    With an eye towards the specific complaint about religion blogs in Dallas, I took a close look at the Houston Chronicle’s.

    Their main website for “belief” topics is

    http://www.chron.com/life/houston-belief

    And its producer at least has a sense of humor, linking to Colbert on Zombie Jesus:

    http://blog.chron.com/believeitornot/2011/10/jesus-was-the-original-zombie-says-stephen-colbert/

    Summarizing the details below, there’s one blogger there who clearly self-identifies as humanist. They could use another voice solidly devoted to reason – and I’m assured that they’d be delighted to have anyone local who writes well for free. I’ll have to drop Anne Crumpacker a line…

    Chronicle “belief” bloggers include:

    * a “humanist minister”

    http://blog.chron.com/thespiritualnaturalist/

    * UUs of Zen and Universalist leanings

    http://blog.chron.com/zenchalice
    http://blog.chron.com/keepthefaith

    * A Rice professor of religious studies

    http://blog.chron.com/talkingtolerance

    (And while I’m not deeply familiar with her work, consider Anthony Pinn, also in that department, who hosted Richard Dawkins a few weeks back: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_B._Pinn)

    * Jews and Muslims of various degrees, plus a blog open to general submissions from readers:

    http://blog.chron.com/spiritedchat

    * Of course, lots of Christians, but not a particularly noxious selection.

  5. Sigmund
    Posted November 8, 2011 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    I would sign but I’m worried that an evil European atheist signing won’t help if the newspaper is so averse to the non-religious!
    Do you want us godless forriners signing too?

    • Occam
      Posted November 8, 2011 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      +1!

    • phaenarete0042
      Posted November 8, 2011 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      Please sign, Sigmund. What I have come to realize these past few weeks is that we are having an international dialogue. The paper is thinking too small. They fail to realize that the written word now travels around the globe. The Dallas Morning News is, in some way, your paper, too. I will also point out that Texas produces Presidents that you may or may not agree with. If you want your voice heard in Texas this is a great opportunity.

      • Sigmund
        Posted November 9, 2011 at 2:07 am | Permalink

        OK, signed!
        BTW, the idea of a new Texan born president is particularly frightening, what with that ignorant rain-dancer you’ve currently got as a candidate.

    • Hamilton Jacobi
      Posted November 8, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

      It depends. Do you eat French Fries or Freedom Fries?

      • Sigmund
        Posted November 9, 2011 at 2:09 am | Permalink

        I was in France last week and just ate some pomme-frites.
        Did the ‘freedom fries’ meme ever take off in the US?

        • Diane G.
          Posted November 9, 2011 at 3:15 am | Permalink

          Only in the Congressional dining room, I think. Oh, and in the press.

        • Notagod
          Posted November 9, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

          It was present in at least one fundy community as well. After I heard of the name change on the news, I went to the local burger place and specifically ordered “FRENCH FRIES”, most everyone in the place looked in horror upon me, the person taking my order figured it was important enough to consult the manager about the order. I was beginning to wonder if I would be arrested.

  6. Posted November 8, 2011 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    I suppose there’s no harm is asking a paper to include something, but I’m not comfortable with it. The whole idea of freedom of the press stems from the Jeffersonian concept of the marketplace of ideas. In other words, start your own secular newspaper if you want; no paper is obligated to do anything.

    • Rod
      Posted November 8, 2011 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      True, but if they are running a series about religious points of view, and claiming to represent a wide range of religious viewpoints, it is a bit disingenuous to exclude agnostics and atheists…. their views are as valid on the subject as any of the other contributors.

    • phaenarete0042
      Posted November 8, 2011 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      They clearly aren’t obligated. We are making our voice heard that it is something they should think about including. It’s telling that they keep saying “no” to a national trend to have a secular writer. Where is the harm? Who is really not honoring the “Jeffersonian concept.” I mean, if they are going to include a category on the “Texas Faith” blog labeled “Atheism, agnosticism and doubters” don’t you think they should have a least one to comment?

  7. Posted November 8, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    I am not surprised about the preponderance of faith stories in newspapers. It is true for the Indianapolis Star Newspaper also. Most people are interested in faith stories, not in secular stories. In fact, the Indianapolis Star actually pays the Billy Graham corp. to print the daily “Billy Graham, My Answer” section. The section is pure advertising for the Billy Graham corp. It should be paying the Star for advertising like everyone else. The Indianapolis Star is in dire financial straights but continues to buy the Billy Graham section. The Center For Inquiry Indiana and other secular groups would be pleased to fill
    the space for free. To be fair, the Indianapolis Star does occasionally allow the secular voice to be heard.

  8. Tim
    Posted November 8, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    OK, now you’ve got a signature from the heart of Aggieland!


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