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Religion, Government, and Media
February 12, 2002 1:07 PM   Subscribe

Religion, Government, and Media When all three are combined, as in Saudi Arabia, you get interesting newspaper articles. It would seem very strange to have a mainstream paper such as the New York Times having a section like this.
posted by LinemanBear (29 comments total)

 
haha greattt cartooon
posted by adnanbwp at 1:17 PM on February 12, 2002


Oh, those Kahil cartoons are priceless!
posted by alumshubby at 1:20 PM on February 12, 2002


A woman in full muslim dress walked toward me the other day. I looked at her, and thought to myself, "it's so horrible that she's forced to wear that thing outside." Then I realized that I would never leave the house without pants on.
posted by Doug at 1:25 PM on February 12, 2002


I think what is sad is that you (and probably many others) think it is strange. Why can't we discuss religious matters in public newspapers?
posted by internal at 1:37 PM on February 12, 2002


It would seem very strange to have a mainstream paper such as the New York Times having a section like this.

It appears that the New York Times does discuss ethics.
posted by iceberg273 at 1:42 PM on February 12, 2002


But, please note, the New York Times does not advocate goat sacrifice for using the company printer after hours.
posted by gsh at 2:02 PM on February 12, 2002


What a wonderful tribute!


Supplement: 20 years of King Fahd
posted by 4midori at 2:12 PM on February 12, 2002


It would indeed seem strange to have have a mainstream US paper with a column on the minutiae of Christianity because that's no longer a mainstream concern in the States (or much of the Western world, for that matter). Having nicely debunked all the miracles and suchlike in the Bible with the miracle of science, the popular Christian line now falls into metaphor and personal interpretation - not easily summed up as a Q & A column as the answer will nearly always be "Go and work it out for yourself".

In the case of Islam, seeing as how the Koran is the word of God, it seems like there really should be a definitive answer if only you can figure it out. Or have someone with a greater understanding point you in the right direction. Hence columns like the one in the link.
posted by MUD at 2:24 PM on February 12, 2002


Uh, MUD, that's a really prejudicial and stereotypical analysis. It might apply in a general sense to a number of people, but I don't think it's at all related to your conclusion.

Religious columns in the US are simply unlikely to cater to the minutiae, because America's religions are so diverse. Roman Catholic? Mainline Protestant? Evangelical Christian? Mormon? Jew? Thus though Religion columns or sections are actually found in many American papers, they tend to focus more on feature writing ("Parish priest gains reputation for homeless advocacy"), interviews, discussions of internal church politics ("Bishops committee recommends ordination of women"), and non-judgemental discussions of religious-centered political action ("Local council of churches backs community center", "NCC open letter to Congress on bombing campaign"). It's much more difficult, and problematic, for a paper to have something that would stand in the place of religious teaching; and there's another difference. One of the hallmarks of a secular, ecumenical society is a zone of privacy surrounding one's religion. For many reasons, not the least of which is a more recent (and ongoing) emergence from village/tribal based society, religion in Islam is much more a community affair. Is Ahmed a good Muslim? The neighbors will talk.
posted by dhartung at 2:42 PM on February 12, 2002


Oh yeah, I love a newspaper than can dispassionately report things like this:

RIYADH, 2 January — Three Saudi men convicted of sodomy and marrying each other were beheaded yesterday in the southwestern city of Abha, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
[source]

Things like this continue to highlight the need to drastically reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and stop economically supporting this barbarism.
posted by evanizer at 3:23 PM on February 12, 2002


The 6 thousand princes runninbg The Kingom (Saudi Arabia) are hardly back in the stone ages and from many accounts seem more in the stoned age...they have the best of what money can buy, and the papers are run as they want them run, because, as some westerners are fond of saying, if you want a free press, buy your own paper. In a contry that does not allow one to carry aq Christian bible in hand, you tow the line. We had a touch of this back in our{Puritan days, when the minister was a virtual ruler. But for those unhappy in such a situation, he simply moved elsewhere. Then secularism set in and gradually religious hotshots got pushed back to a much less prominent role. But now a resurrgence with Pat Robertson and gang, though a majority do not take him with any seriousness. Again, separation of church and state and a great diversity make things much nicer. So we can have Enrons.
posted by Postroad at 4:25 PM on February 12, 2002


In the mid-east, religion and governance are one and the same.

And while that is not an appropriate model for us, I fail to understand why it can not be an appropriate model for them. Why must we force the mid-east to become secularized?

The separation of government and church in this country has resulted in religion being rendered irrelevent in everyday life. As a result, we're constantly bombarded by commercial messages that run completely contrary to our supposed religiously-rooted morals: if it isn't the sale of sex, it's the promotion of crass materialism.

Just start paying attention to the media in your life. At almost all times, from almost all angles, you are receiving messages that probably, once you dig down to the root, go against your morals.

In the mid-east, that wouldn't be true. Religion and government are one and the same: as a result, morality doesn't take a back-seat to so-called "free speech." No maxi-pad advertisements, no half-naked women rubbing lotion into their thighs, no one hiding their lives behind a bottle of beer.

Oh, I know, it's utterly unacceptable to prevent companies from using every trick in the book to turn us all into money-grubbing materialists desperate to have the latest toy or trinket...
...but sometimes I think it'd be nice, and most of the time I think it's okay for some countries to go that way.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:50 PM on February 12, 2002


So your ideal government would be Authoritarian? Or perhaps Totalitarian? If not, what does the seperation of church and state have to do with the media? There is no such division between Media and Church. And please, people in the middle east aren't any less materialistic than we are, they just have less money.

Also, what's wrong with Maxi Pads commercials in particular?
posted by Doug at 6:57 PM on February 12, 2002


Jesus, Doug, did you read the frigging post at all? Even a little bit? Please, do tell me where I said anything about prefering an Authoritarian or Totalitarian government?

I rather prefer the separation of government and religion. Rather strongly prefer the latter.

But that doesn't preclude accepting that for other people, in other nations, a religious government is okey-dokey.

Re: no such division between Media and Church -- that's here in the Americas. That's not true there in the mid-east. Gahd.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:34 PM on February 12, 2002


site seems down. Everyone should write to that publication and tell them what a primitive, repressive place SA is.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:38 PM on February 12, 2002


Things like this continue to highlight the need to drastically reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and stop economically supporting this barbarism.

Uh huh...next we should cut off China for human rights' violations, Europe for legalizing weed, etc... My point, shut up...we set the standard, we set a good example. If they continue to hurt their OWN population, that's essentially their business. So long as they weren't beheaded at a US embassy or US owned oil refinery, we can't control their bigotry.

FWIW, Saudi Arabia is already hurting badly because much of our oil is now being tapped from Russia and SA finally borrowed money to support itself, a rarity.
posted by BlueTrain at 9:11 PM on February 12, 2002


five fresh fish, perhaps I'm not understanding you. For religion to be able to dictate what is presented in the media, wouldn't the government have to regulate the media on behalf of religion? Wouldn't that form of government be considered authoritarian? How else would religion have a direct influence on television, for instance?
posted by Doug at 10:45 PM on February 12, 2002


If they continue to hurt their OWN population, that's essentially their business

Which is essentially the attitude that contributed to Afghanistan being the hideout of choice for Osama. And because we can't see the forest for the trees, the next guy who blows up a building is going to hide in Africa, another continent we don't give a damn about because it's "their problem".
posted by owillis at 10:51 PM on February 12, 2002


Which is essentially the attitude that contributed to Afghanistan being the hideout of choice for Osama. And because we can't see the forest for the trees, the next guy who blows up a building is going to hide in Africa, another continent we don't give a damn about because it's "their problem".

I'm not going to disagree with you; I only defend our oil interests in Saudi Arabia, to the extent evanizer mentioned.

We saw the forest and the trees in Afghanistan, which is why when the Taliban demolished the Buddhist statues we backed off. It isn't our (US) place to rid the world of dictatorships and despots. We aren't Superman. We are a self-interested nation, which is why we are the leading hegemon.
posted by BlueTrain at 11:26 PM on February 12, 2002


In my opinion, in our self-interest we need to start cracking some heads (see my American Empire post). As well as appropriately cleaning up after ourselves when said head-cracking is done (Afghanistan again). We need it, but our slavish love of Saudi oil will come back to bite us in the butt again.
posted by owillis at 11:33 PM on February 12, 2002


owillis, I agree that democratization and capitalization of such countries (Iraq, Iran, N. Korea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.) are a good idea. Not many people disagree with you there. The fundamental difficulty with democratizing these countries is the effect it would have upon their economies.

A well-known study links a failing economy with civil violence. India is an exception to the rule (despite rampant corruption) because Great Britain did a lot to spur industrialization (immediately after they ransacked the nation).

Now look at Iran or Iraq. Assuming we democratize these nations, their "free" poor and middle class will most likely rebel against the government because a democracy doesn't mean they will have economic improvement. And whom will they blame? Those bastards that changed us from a dictatorship to a democracy.

The reason why despots remain in power is they settle the masses with minimal benefit or massive force. A democracy in these volatile nations will most likely lead to more civil violence and even more hatred (as if that was possible) toward the US.

Again, I agree with you...democratization and capitalization are the answer, but the question might not be "What should we do?"...but "When should we do it?"...honestly, a country needs SOME self-determination to become successful.
posted by BlueTrain at 11:49 PM on February 12, 2002


five fresh fish: The separation of government and church in this country has resulted in religion being rendered irrelevent in everyday life.

The facts say the opposite. The US is far more religious, by various metrics, than comparable nations that do not separate church and state (e.g. UK, Denmark, etc.).
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 12:10 AM on February 13, 2002


HC: I'm afraid that's simply not true. Were it true, you wouldn't see shampoo commercials in which a woman simulates having an orgasm; television shows in which teenagers are engaging in pre-marital sex.

And you wouldn't see people passively accepting -- and, in this thread -- defending these things!

The American people may *claim* to be religious, but they are not. Their actions speak louder than their words.


Doug: Your government has a hand in dictating what the media can and can not publish/air. Tobacco companies must publish health warnings; the KKK doesn't get thirty-second advertisements; you can't shout fire in a crowded theatre. Does that make your government authoritarian/totalitarian? No.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:20 AM on February 13, 2002


There is a quite rich variety of religious-themed media in the United States along with other publications that are not explicitly religious but quietly have their mottos from the Bible in the masthead. (A local example is the Indianapolis Star.) I would say that approximately one-fourth of the periodicals carried by my local library are religious in nature. I think a large reason why periodicals in the United States are not more explicitly religious is due to the prevailing myth of objectivity.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:49 AM on February 13, 2002


"And while that is not an appropriate model for us, I fail to understand why it can not be an appropriate model for them. Why must we force the mid-east to become secularized?"

Well, i guess it depends on whether you value life, since women and homosexuals are being killed against their will. If you do decide to value your life, then it comes down to whether you value foreign life. If you decide that you don't value life, then I guess that's "okey-dokey" but call it what it is; don't hide behind a cause of national soverignity.
posted by rhyax at 10:17 AM on February 13, 2002


Women and homosexuals are being killed in America, too. I believe we just had a thread on that very topic.

Religion and government are one and the same in the mid-East. If you try to separate the two, you utterly destroy their society and nationhood.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:18 AM on February 13, 2002


Religion and government are one and the same in the mid-East

Most countries in the Middle East are predominantly Muslim, but only a few are specific theocracies. Syria and Iraq are specifically secular, and several others have secular governments as well. Iran is an Islamic Republic. Suadi Arabia is an Islamic Monarchy. There is a variety of governments there, it is just plain inaccurate to say that religion and government are the same in "the mid east." You would do better to say 'on the Arabian peninsula,' but even there you'd be incorrect.
posted by cell divide at 11:51 AM on February 13, 2002


Perhaps we are taking this a little bit to an extreme. After all the current wave of Islamism as a political and cultural movement is relatively modern and developed on the heels of Western Christian fundamentalism.

For example, one of the ironies of the crusades was that during the first three crusades, most of the conflict was not between Christianity and Islam, but a rather strange three-way conflict between the Western Roman Catholics, the Orthodox Eastern Roman Empire, and native Coptic Christian communities.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:58 AM on February 13, 2002


five, grandstand much?

Certainly you ignore the example of secular Turkey, as well as the ability of Muslims to live in diverse societies like India. Certainly the variety of governments -- from nationalistic despots like Saddam to parliamentary monarchies -- argues against any type of monolithism.

I don't have a problem with Islam having as strong a presence in a culture as, say, Mormonism in Utah. But basic human rights must be respected. Christians, for example, cannot build churches in Saudi Arabia, nor worship openly, although private gatherings are tolerated. Converts from Islam are supposed to be executed. You think that's OK? Well, you're welcome to move.
posted by dhartung at 4:58 PM on February 13, 2002


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