This week in our case study we will be looking at press coverage of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in the 1980s and discussions about how the secular press deals with religious controversy. Specifically we will look at press coverage around the 1979 Southern Baptist Convention held in Houston.
In order to fully contextualize these events it is important to see how the SBC's relationship to the mass media. The SBC has long been active in issuing a number of resolutions "defined as an expression of opinion or concern, as compared to a motion, which calls for action" related to the mass media. These include resolutions related to Television Programming (1982), TV Morality (1992) and Youth and Violence in the Media (1999). They have also been active in trying to create their own sources of news and information such as the Baptist Press, an Online news service from the SBC offering "news with a Christian perspective".
Interesting insights can also be gained about how the SBC view its relationship to the secular press by reading ABP editor admits spinning news during SBC (2001). This article provides some interesting insights into SBC policy & justification for their views about the media.
Case Study Reflection Questions:
- Why was the press drawn to the fundamentalist’s story? Why did the moderates story not receive as much attention?
- What does this teach us about how the press may frame stories about religion?
- What can religious organizations learn from the this incident about interacting with the press?