Faith & Family?

I was a bit turned off when I read the Herald-Sun's recent announcement that they would introduce a Faith and Family section to the paper. This smacked of the familiar right-wing conflation that would twist social relations to conform to some conservative religious viewpoint.

Based on today's debut of the section, it turns out to not be so bad. They've wrapped the religion pages around a page with a couple of secular articles on family matters (including a topic big in my household: kindergarten).

There was a bit of a tease presented in the form of a photo of two women embracing, looking as if they might be about to kiss. No it wasn't for an article on girl-on-girl faith&family fun. It was for a discussion of trends in baby showers.

Still, the section's title does not have the inclusive sensibility that I would look for in our local paper. It is offensive to those whose families follow the faith-free path.



I have my religious beliefs, which are personal to me regarding my faith. However, I should not be asked to keep them to myself, or to deny the fact that my viewpoints on societal issues are influenced by my faith. My perspective is no less valid than secular or aetheistic positions, and if I wish to express them publically that should be ok.

While one should not force one's religion or faith on others, people speaking their views (either from a religious perspective, or who may happen to practice a certain religion) should not be dismissed based on the fact that they hold a view that may have its origin in a religion.

I struggle with abortion as an issue for example, especially partial birth abortion. But, I'm not ready to advocate for completely outlawing abortion. Yet, we seem to have polarized perspectives on such issues, where one side cannot meet the other somewhere in the middle.

Seems to me that open dialogue through the forums our media creates is not a bad thing. Unless, it seems based on some of these postings, we want to limit such dialoug when the viewpoints are counter to our own.

I certainly didn't miss that ECHHS has an awesome Lacrosse team--one of my kid's good friends plays. But I DID find the headline amusing. (And Fred--I caught the sarcasm.)

I think Dan's playing along. At least, I hope he is.

It depends on what we mean by "faith" and "family". If it is discussing how the changing definition of "family" should be embraced and welcomed into the church, then fine. If it's simply a vehicle to tote the old lines about the evils of same-sex rights and the vast "liberal conspiracy", then I have found another reason to not subscribe to this tabloid junk.

I must admit I feel cheated not to have been in town for this thread. I 'm blatently shocked that y'all have got your knickers so firmly in a twist over a marketing decision.

Newspapers are dying. Everyone of them is trying to be more relevant or entertaining etc. Some consultant told them "Faith and Family" was a better name for the religion and "home life" section ( or whatever it was called. I'm a New York Times gal myself.) That's it. There's no hidden agenda, it's not evil righty code, or anything else.

I'm going to suggest that you take a gander at a book called "God's Politics" by Jim Wallis. The subtitle is " why the right gets it wrong and the left doesn't get it." You guys that are all upset over this clearly fall into the latter category.

Reflecting on the decision of an important institution does not mean one is "upset." Nor does it matter that some consider the institution to be dying (surely you mean print newspapers) or that the decision is "merely" marketing.

Wallis' thesis that the left just needs to get religion is surely of great comfort to the religious but it says little about the actual problems of the left.

Did you see the new section in today's Chapel Hill News about Passive Solar-Powered Faith-based Sustainable Organic Family Business Awesome Sports Gardening? Or is it just in my copy?

The heading "Faith and Family" reflects an ideology, or "set of values" if you prefer, that is intelligible to (many) Americans. That's what I find interesting here.

Undoubtedly its value as a marketing tactic was taken into consideration, but I wouldn't write it off as mere expedient, coincidence or alliteration(!)

To illustrate my point, I'll bring up an example from my my home country, an Asian nation imbued with lingering Confucian values. Many newspapers in my country had (until very recently, at least) a "Women and Family" page.

I had never liked that because it seemed to reinforce the old notion that the family, and therefore the home, was the realm of women (except for bringing home the family's bread, uh, rice, which was obviously the men's responsibility. But of course men's work was done almost entirely outside the home. An old proverb that was pretty well-employed up to my parents' generation said that a boy would lose his penis should he even set foot in the kitchen).

Such "Women & Family" pages persisted for years because the men in charge of the papers found the coupling logical, and I suppose a lot of the readers thought so, too.

My paper created a "Women" page just a couple of years ago; in its preliminary stages the editors (all male except one) referred to it as "Women & Family." Right now I don't recall if we ultimately went with "Women & Family" or just "Women" for the heading, but regardless of what it's called on paper, that's how it was conceived.

But I think it unlikely for a "Women & Family" page to appear in an American paper. Such an association doesn't mesh with modern American values very well. Men -- fathers -- are very much involved with their families and children, and women are encouraged to venture outside the home.

On the other hand I find it hard to imagine any paper in my country putting together a "Faith and Family" page. Over there, the two terms don't often appear in the same context. A majority of the population say they have no religion, but hey, most everyone has a family. Religion is closer to a cultural issue while family is a social one. I can just imagine readers and editors alike knitting their brows in exasperation to such an idea, going, "What the hell does this have to do with that?" Yup, it would never see the light of day.

So what I'm saying is, whether you like it or not, "Faith & Family" is no accident. I don't think the HS is pushing some ideological agenda, but due to their cultural background the pairing makes sense to them, and therefore they're hoping the same for their readers, too.



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