Christian Upset Over Atheist Article’s Placement in Newspaper October 17, 2007

Christian Upset Over Atheist Article’s Placement in Newspaper

The Sacramento Bee featured atheists on the cover of their Metro page a week ago. The headline read “Atheists stand proud.”

On the lower right-hand corner of the page was a story about “a gathering of 13,000 people at Arco Arena put on by the Bayside Family of Churches to raise money for three schools in the region.”

Complaints followed.

The paper’s Public Editor Armando Acuna explains the controversy:

“I’m offended by the (Metro) page,” said Robert Cunningham, 42, of Granite Bay and a church member who was at Arco. “The atheists have the front spot, and that makes no sense to me.”

Cunningham said that while the atheists had a right to their opinion, The Bee shouldn’t be their vehicle and that by publishing the story it was siding with “people who don’t believe in God.”

Echoing a sentiment lodged by others, Cunningham said that at the very least, “the stories should have been reversed” on the page, with the Arco event getting top billing.

Which, obviously, would have meant the paper was the vehicle of the church…

Why was the decision made to put the atheists front and center on the page?

Assistant city editor Ricardo Sandoval was working last Sunday and was involved in the decision about which story to make the centerpiece.

Sandoval said he knew the decision would be controversial with readers either way. While he liked both stories, he thought the one about the atheist gathering was more interesting from a journalistic standpoint, in part because it wasn’t confined to atheists.

The top of the story, for example, was about a rabbi who took to the stage unexpectedly, thanking God for the sunny day and blessing the crowd. A photo and story also talked about a Christian and a San Francisco atheist debating God’s existence.

Acuna summarizes the paper’s decision nicely:

Those who criticize the paper for publishing the atheists’ story or for “taking sides” by making it the centerpiece don’t understand what we do. As best it can, the paper tries to reflect what is going on in this multifaceted community without fear or favor.

Jason Rosenhouse also adds this nugget:

I can guarantee you that no atheist would have complained if the Christian story had been given top billing.

Of course we wouldn’t. We’re so used to seeing Christianity featured in community pages. That in itself is not a bad thing, but Christians are not the only game in town, and it’s nice for a paper to notice that once in a while.

[tags]atheist, atheism, church, Michael Newdow[/tags]

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Maybe, now and again, you should complain….

  • I am so sorry my brothers and sisters can be such assholes sometimes. I really wish we would act like we were told to act – you know by the one we follow (Jesus) – but we rarely do. Sorry they didn’t recognize the value humans, and sold out for the value of commercialistic publicity.

  • Jared, I don’t understand your apology. Who sold out for commercialistic publicity? The subject of this post is a newspaper that we think didn’t sell out, and is now getting complaints for it.

    Also, apologizing for your “brothers and sisters” when clearly you have no responsibility for the whole thing shows a sort of group mentality that will strike most atheists as odd, to say the least.

  • the Christians in question are after top billing – they are upset the atheists got it. As for Group mentality – yes thats the way it works. We are a group – we are the church – the people of God – however you want to put it – I am one of them. Even if i don’t always agree with them.

  • Ok, that makes a little more sense.

  • “Mommy! They let some other kid go before me! I should have been first! Why wasn’t I first?! I always go first!”

    What can I say? Christians are spoiled in this country. I’m glad that I don’t need to worry too much about violent extremist Christians, but that’s only because I realize that most Christians are far too lazy and spoiled for such violence. It’ll be a scary day when they snap out of that.

  • Karen

    The good news here is that atheists continue to get increased visibility – and now it’s trickled down from the national to the local level. This is excellent.

    The fact that we’ll get opposition just by being recognized is par for the course, and we should expect it, but the criticism is worth it if our ideas and our very existence is being reported.

    Jared, I constantly see kind, ethical Christians taking it on themselves to apologize for their nasty, mean-spirited brethren. If Christians can be assholes just as often as non-Christians, where’s the influence of the holy spirit? Is it so weak, because of free will, that it can’t be detected?

    Shouldn’t those with access to divine guidance behave at least a cut above those of us poor slobs who don’t have a member of the trinity living in our hearts?

  • Where can I find similar articles, but written in a different style?

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