Preferred Shades of Green:
Religion as a Factor in News Framing of Environmental Advocacy
Rick Clifton Moore
Associate Professor of Communication
Boise State University
Boise, ID 83725-1920
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Paper submitted to the Religion and Media Interest Group,
Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Annual
Are religious groups portrayed more negatively in the media than are
secular groups? This study addresses this question by measuring portrayal
of two groups engaged in similar environmental advocacy campaigns. One
group was clearly evangelical, the other a-religious. Using a research
method similar to that used by Kerr and Moy (2002) I found news stories
about the groups were not significantly different, but articles by weekly
columnists did present the religious group significantly more negatively.
Underwood and Stamm (2001) began a recent article on religiosity of
journalists by revisiting the recurring claim that such journalists are
"unchurched social liberals" (p. 771). The researchers introduced this idea
not to support it, but to counter it with their own research. Even in the
introduction, they state, "Most researchers, however, have come to a
different conclusion" (Underwood and Stamm, 2001, p. 771). The researchers
go on to suggest that most journalists today have a strong religious
But religiosity of journalists is just one dimension in a larger debate
about the "secular" nature of the media. Framed more broadly, the debate is
about the ability of the media to accurately and fairly report news of
religion and spiritual maters. And that debate is far from over. In fact,
in the immediately ensuing edition of Journalism and Mass Communication
Quarterly—the journal that published Underwood and Stamm's work—another
empirical study about news and religion was published. This second article,
however, provided results of a study dealing precisely with the nature of
news content (as opposed to the nature of news content creators).
This study was a longitudinal analysis of news coverage of
"fundamentalist" Christians in U.S. newspapers from the year 1980 to the
year 2000 (Kerr and Moy, 2002). Here the researchers found that American
newspapers have been "slightly cool, but not cold, toward fundamentalist
Christians" (p. 63). One indicator of favorability used in the study was a
"thermometer rating" with a zero score meaning fundamentalists were
portrayed "extremely unfavorably/negatively" and a 100 meaning they were
portrayed "extremely favorably/positively." The mean score on the scale for
all 2,343 articles sampled by Kerr and Moy was 41.80.
So if journalists are not highly irreligious, how might portrayal of a
particular religious group be so "cool"? Kerr and Moy suggest that what
they observe relates to framing of social and political groups. In a world
where journalists serve as gatekeepers, such groups often must seek media
attention if they wish to contribute to public dialogue. When groups seek
such attention, they risk the possibility of being "framed" by the media in
negative ways they never anticipated. Gitlin's (1980) work on news coverage
of Students for a Democratic Society is often cited as a seminal work in
But in this instance we might begin to wonder about the nature of framing
and how it relates to reporters, stories, and audiences. If reporters are
not hostile to religion, and in fact are just as religious as the broader
society in which they abide, why would a particular religious group be
framed in such a negative manner? Or, put in a different form, can we
really say with certainty that a religious group will be framed negatively
when a "secular" group might not?
These are the issues and questions that inspire the following study.
Herein, I attempt one empirical investigation of religious groups not
simply by replicating a longitudinal analysis of news coverage of
fundamentalist Christians, but by examining perceived framing of a
religious group side-by-side with perceived framing of an a-religious
group. In this study, news coverage of a social movement with a strong
religious dimension is studied along side news coverage of a very similar
social movement with little or no religious dimension. Though such a
comparison must be supplemented by other similar side-by-side studies, this
research attempts to begin to understand the extent to which religious
groups really are framed negatively in the mainstream media.
In the following pages, I provide a brief overview of the definition of
Christian fundamentalism and evangelicalism. I then review the importance
of media framing of social groups. These elements allow for an empirical
analysis of news coverage of an evangelical Christian group's sojourn into
national politics, especially in regards to environmental issues.
FUNDAMENTALISTS AND EVANGELICALS
Kerr and Moy's (2002) study of news coverage paid specific attention to
"fundamentalists" in the press. Much inspiration for their work comes from
recent findings by Bolce and DeMaio (1999) who argue that there is a
persistent public antipathy toward fundamentalists in contemporary American
Of course, one element of difficulty in all of this discussion is the
definition of "fundamentalist." As Kerr and Moy admit, the term originally
developed in relation to a specific historical movement within
Christianity. Shortly after World War I, some bodies of Christian believers
felt the need to confront challenges to traditional Protestant belief and
practice. Kerr and Moy (2002, p. 56) point out that many Protestants
gathered together what they felt to be the essential elements of the faith
and published those elements in a twelve-volume treatise titled The
Fundamentals. People with affinity to this form of doctrine were soon
Kerr and Moy hasten to explain, though, that the term fundamentalist
quickly became associated with a number of negative stereotypes and many
believers who sympathized with the overall movement began to refer to
themselves as "evangelicals" rather than fundamentalists. As evidence of
this, Maus (1990, p. 258) attributes many aspects of the popular definition
of fundamentalism to the Scopes trial, and especially H.L. Mencken's
coverage thereof. Mencken thought fundamentalism to represent any form of
rural Protestantism. The connotation of Mencken's assessment can best be
visualized in the rewording of this that Maus provides, the idea that
fundamentalists represent "anti-intellectual bumpkins from a bygone era"
(p. 258). Little wonder, then, that many who felt affinity for
"fundamental" theology were not permanently attached to the label
These two terms are thus often used within conservative Protestant
Christianity in the late 20th and early 21st Centuries. There are still
some who resist a common inclination to see the words as rough synonyms.
But even in the scholarly world operational definitions do not really seem
to clarify the nature of the groups—presumably, two distinct groups. For
example, in his recent study on the sociological characteristics of
fundamentalism, Coreno (2002, p. 339) defined fundamentalists as persons
who belong to a fundamentalist or an evangelical denomination and read the
Bible literally. If such a definition explains what a fundamentalist is,
the obvious question it raises is, "What, then, is an evangelical?"
Hence, the terms fundamentalist and evangelical are often used
interchangeably today, and even scholarly research is not able to make
clear distinctions between the two camps. Some researchers, such as Shibley
(1996, p. 16) simply see the "fundamentalist-modernist controversy" as
being a catalyst that created two broad branches within Protestantism,
evangelicals and liberals. Others recognize continued use of the term
fundamentalist but find its use to be so varied and multi-faceted that it
makes few clear distinctions. Kohut, Green, Keeter, and Toth (2000, p. 22),
state this rather eloquently when they claim that "fundamentalism" is one
of several "overlapping forms of belonging" within evangelical
Protestantism. Understood this way, making distinctions between
fundamentalists and evangelicals is of little value. In fact, for academic
discussion, Wilcox (1986) admits defeat in the attempts made by scholars to
define terms. He states, "there exists no clear consensus on the proper
method to operationalize evangelical and fundamentalist Christians"
(Wilcox, 1986, p. 1041).
FRAMING OF EVANGELICALS
For mass media scholarship that examines the portrayal of particular
groups of people, a concise delineation between "fundamentalists" and
"evangelicals" may not be that important for two reasons. One reason is
that the two groups appear to be similar enough in popular conception and
in scholarly research to be studied as if they are one and the same. The
other reason is that when studying the portrayal of social groups by the
mass media, we can focus on portrayal itself, as media practitioners
themselves do the labeling of social groups. The label does not matter that
much, the portrayal does. As example, Kerr and Moy's research involved
content analysis of those news stories that used the term "fundamentalist"
in the headline or the text of the article.
Thus, the assumption herein is that there is a group of people who could
be labeled evangelical or fundamentalist Christians, and that the mass
media occasionally provide portrayal of that group. Kerr and Moy suggest
that when the media do choose to portray the group, they do so in a less
than positive way. Specifically, Kerr and Moy state that fundamentalists
are "framed" in a negative manner.
And this has tremendous import. The concept of framing is key in that
framing has to do not only with how reporters perceive an issue or group,
and not only how that perception is played out in a story, but also how the
resulting portrayal is understood by audiences (Scheufele, 1999). In Kerr
and Moy's own words, "the media presumably play an equally, if not more
important role in shaping public understanding and attitudes by virtue of
their framing of fundamentalist Christians" (Kerr and Moy, 2002, p. 54).
A brief review of the importance of these issues is warranted here. As news
frames are the means by which the public understands social issues, and as
understanding plays a key part in developing public policies in a
democracy, framing is a crucial topic (Entman and Rojecki, 1993). Tewksbury
Et. al. (2000) state, " If news frames influence individuals' explanations
of issues, they will likely also have an impact on policy options or
implicit answers to questions of what should be done about issues" (p. 804).
Of course, researchers' focus on framing has not been limited to these
influences. Much of framing research deals with how social groups and
social issues interact with the media and are portrayed in media form. The
present study specifically examines when religious groups become engaged
with the media as social movements. That is, individuals join with others
in forming an organization with specific goals for social maintenance or
change. In the later 20th century, such groups have relied heavily on the
mass media to accomplish their tasks because the media are essential for
mobilizing the public (Gitlin, 1980; Gamson and Wolsfeld, 1993). As
Schultze (1990, p. 33) points out, even evangelical groups who are highly
skeptical of the secular mass media recognize the power of the media and
seek to use them to further their agendas.
For many citizens, there is an assumption that furthering an agenda simply
requires that certain facts reach the attention of the general public. This
popular conception does not fit with the theory of framing as developed by
numerous studies of the mass media. The facts of the stories themselves are
not that important. As Gamson (1989) points out, the facts "take on their
meaning by being embedded in a frame or story that organizes them and gives
them coherence, selecting certain ones to emphasize while ignoring others"
(p. 157). That is, when a social or political group is perceived to be of
importance to those working in the mass media, the story (the eventual
mediated story) about that group is not necessarily the story the group
presumed it to be. In the words of Ryan, Carragee, and Meinhofer (2001),
"The ability of a frame to dominate news discourse depends on multiple
complex factors, including its sponsor's economic and cultural resources,
its sponsor's knowledge of journalistic practices, and its resonance with
broader political values or tendencies in American culture." (p. 176).
According to this line of thought, economic and political elites—and
presumably social groups composed of such—have the greatest likelihood of
getting their own frames accepted and disseminated in the news media
(Gamson, Croteau, Hoynes, & Sasson, 1992).
Presumably, then, "fundamentalists," as Kerr and Moy (2002) studied them,
are not among the elite. If they were, they would not have seen a
persistently cool (that is negative, as opposed to warm or positive)
portrayal over twenty years of news coverage at the end of the 20th
Century. Elites have the ability to woo the press into presenting
themselves and their ideas in positive ways, or at least they understand
the process by which this happens. Non-elites have no such power or
But, the question remains, is religion a significant factor in a group's
classification as elite or non-elite? Worded differently, Kerr and Moy
found that for twenty years fundamentalists were portrayed somewhat
negatively in the press. Might we find that numerous other groups received
equally negative treatment during this period. After all, the notion of
"elite-ness" implies selectivity. Only a few can be among the elite.
Perhaps there are just as many secular groups as religious groups who have
received the cool, negative framing that "fundamentalists" did in the 1980s
and 1990s. In the following pages, I will attempt to examine one instance
in which these issues can be investigated.
"EVANGELICAL ENVIRONMENTAL NETWORK" AND "THE DETROIT PROJECT" AS EXAMPLES
OF MEDIA FRAMING
Shortly after the publication of Kerr and Moy's work, two social groups
embarked on sizeable advocacy campaigns. There is no evidence to suggest
that either group knew of the other's existence or plans. In spite of
this lack of awareness, the overall goals of the two groups were remarkably
similar. Both groups suggested that Americans would be better off if they
stopped purchasing and driving Sport Utility Vehicles.
But the reasons for creating and disseminating this message, the persuasive
components of the message, and the advocacy groups themselves were
radically different. One group was part of an established movement. The
Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) was an outgrowth of a religious
based environmental movement that had received quite a bit of news coverage
by the mainstream press (for example, see Gonzalez, 1994; Murphy, 1998;
Niebuhr, 1994). The movement had also demonstrated its power with popular
Christian authors who published books expounding the virtues of green
awareness (see for example Basney, 1994; Campolo, 1992; Van Dyke, Mahan,
Sheldon, & Brand, 1996; Wilkinson & Wilkinson, 1992).
The Evangelical Environmental Movement was a specific outgrowth of this
general trend. The narrow message the group wished to proclaim during
the advocacy campaign studied here was that our affinity for Sport Utility
Vehicles is ungodly. SUVs, the argument goes, are sinful on three accounts.
First off, they require more resources to produce than do more subdued
modes of transportation. Second, they consume more resources—namely finite
supplies of fossil fuels—than other autos do. Third (and finally), they
produce more pollutants than standard passenger cars. Of course, all of
these matters are debatable, and our purpose here is not to debate them. In
fact, our purpose is to consider the overall way that the group, given its
nature, tried to add power to these three arguments. It did so by simply
asking "What would Jesus drive?" The point the group tried to make was that
the Son of God would be a wise steward of resources and thus not be a part
of the recent SUV-mania.
Within almost the same timeframe as the WWJD campaign, a group called the
Detroit Project was creating a very similar and yet very different message.
Unlike EEN, the Detroit Project's roots did not run very deep. This was a
one-issue organization and an organization that was formed ad hoc. Its
founder, Arianna Huffington, was disturbed by evidence that some money
Americans spend on gasoline eventually funds terrorist organizations such
as those responsible for the attacks of September 11th 2001. Gathering a
handful of friends and soliciting funds for a media campaign, she formed
the Detroit Project and fine-tuned its message. Given the fact that the
SUVs tend to have lower fuel efficiency than other automobiles do, the
group concluded that SUV popularity was playing into the hands of the enemy.
Once again, we need not debate the strength of the argument. Our main
concern here is that the Detroit Project's goals are highly similar to
those of the Evangelical Environmental Network—to get Americans to
purchase/drive fewer SUVs. But the motivating factors intended to lead
people to meet those goals are completely different. In this case,
Huffington and her allies pay no attention whatsoever to the religious
dimensions of resource stewardship. In fact, the issue is not resource
stewardship at all. Rather, the issue is protection of one's countrymen and
political survival. Playing up this theme, the Detroit Project decided to
mimic a series of television announcements already seen by millions of
Americans. Those spots explained that every time a person purchased illegal
drugs, that person was aiding and abetting the traffickers of those drugs
(even to the extent of being responsible for thefts and murders committed
When set side-by-side, then, these two groups and their messages offer an
interesting contrast, and an interesting opportunity to investigate
potential anti-evangelical bias in news framing. What the Evangelical
Environmental Network and the Detroit Project offer is an opportunity to
examine news framing of two advocacy groups operating in almost identical
historical/social context, delivering a message that is identical in
overall goal. The most significant items distinguishing these two groups
are declaration of religiosity in the name of one organization (the
"Evangelical" Environmental Network) and introduction of religious imagery
into the motivational appeals in the messages the groups attempted to
spread. Given Kerr and Moy's findings, might we not expect that EEN's
coverage would be more negative than DP's?
As this study is an extension of Kerr and Moy's work, research methods
employed were quite similar to theirs. Obviously, the most significant
change here was that the researcher was investigating news framing of a
religious group along side a secular group. To describe the process in
general, stories about each group were distributed to students to read.
Students were randomly assigned to read about one group or the other. After
reading the stories, students filled out a form detailing their perceptions
The news stories for analysis were selected in a full-text database of
national newspapers. The search was performed using the terms "Evangelical
Environmental Network" for one group and "Detroit Project" for the other.
As the intent was to measure general public's reaction to the framing of
news stories (explained in more detail later), I selected a systematic
sample from within the total collection of stories. Emphasis was placed on
the largest circulation papers. Also, as one purpose in this study was to
replicate aspects of Kerr and Moy's work, I sought to find news stories,
weekly columns, and editorials. I did this because one of Kerr and Moy's
key findings was that traditional news reporters were less negative toward
fundamentalists than were articles by weekly columnists. The total
population of stories found had a very small number of editorials and
letters to the editor about either group, so neither was included in the
final group of stories. In the end, I had a collection of eight stories
pertaining to the Evangelical Environmental Network, and eight stories
pertaining to the Detroit Project. The EEN stories had been originally
published in November and December of 2002. The DP stories ran from
November of 2002 to January of 2003.
Using these articles, I created packets that included either stories about
EEN, or DP. For each packet, half the articles were news stories. The other
half of the articles were columnist's pieces. Also included in each packet
were forms asking the reader to measure the portrayal on a number of
factors. This form was almost identical to that used by Kerr and Moy (2002,
p. 68). The most significant difference was that there was one form used
for stories about the Evangelical Environmental Network and another form
used for stories about the Detroit Project. The name of the group was the
only item that varied from one form to the next. A copy of the form is
provided in the appendix.
Packets were distributed to students in several sections of a
lower-division university core communication class at a mid-size Northwest
university. The students in the classes were not communication majors and
had no specific exposure to mass communication curriculum during the course
of the semester. N for the study was 148. A cover instructed each student
to read all of the stories and fill out a response form for each.
The use of student respondents was a significant departure from Kerr and
Moy. They used a small group of student coders in their study. Though the
advantage of the earlier strategy is that the researcher can develop a
certain degree of intercoder reliability by way of operationalization of
terms and training, that benefit comes at the cost of validity. Such
validity seems important here. After all, as noted earlier, Kerr and Moy
(2002) state that the end result of framing is "public understanding and
attitudes" (p. 54). Where such public understanding and attitudes result
is in the minds media consumers, who do not formally code media products in
the process of forming understanding and attitudes. Rather (in the instance
of print journalism), they simply read the stories and come away with an
impression. Such "impressionistic" response on the part of readers would
seem more valid than highly reliable coder data.
The response form that students used requested that the students describe
the favorability of the headline toward the group and the favorability of
the story text toward the group. Both of these tasks were accomplished with
a five point Likert-type scale. Next, respondents were asked to relate
their perception of the portrayal of the group in relation to six specific
characteristics. For example, students were asked to explain if the Detroit
Project was portrayed as Very Intelligent, Somewhat Intelligent, Balanced,
Somewhat Unintelligent, or Very Unintelligent. The six characteristics
examined in this manner were: tolerance, intelligence, responsibility,
patriotism, tendency to force their views on others, and political
involvement. Finally, replicating Kerr and Moy's work, students were asked
to measure portrayal of the group using a "thermometer" scale. A completely
cold (negative) portrayal of a group should merit a 0 on the scale while an
extremely favorable portrayal should rate a 100.
Favorability in headline, overall article favorability, and the six
specific story measurements (e.g., extremely tolerant to extremely
intolerant) were five point scale items. Thus, perception of "neutral"
reportage should show up as a mean of 3 on any of these items. The
thermometer scale (perception of cool or warm reporting) ran from 0 to 100,
so a score of 50 would demonstrate neutral reportage. Table one shows the
Forceful of views
1: Detroit Project
2: Evangelical Environmental Network
3: The difference between the mean scores for the dimension
A broad view of the data does not lend great support to the idea that
religious groups are portrayed more negatively than are secular groups.
Table 1 shows the data in very general terms, revealing mean scores for
both groups on overall headline favorability, overall article favorability,
each of the six specific story items, and the thermometer score. A few
interesting things to note are that both groups showed scores that were
below the "neutral" mean of 3 on most items. As there were eight items with
an expected mean of 3, we can note that the Detroit Project stories fell
below 3 for five of those eight items, where the Evangelical Environmental
Network stories fell below 3 for six of those eight items. In addition, the
EEN had the lower mean score on five of the eight items. Looked at in this
way, the data seem to suggest that both groups were portrayed negatively,
with the religious group being portrayed slightly more so. On the
thermometer scores for the two groups, however, the numbers are
astonishingly similar and very near the "neutral reportage" mark of 50.
Finally, the thermometer score for the religiously oriented group is the
higher of the two (though very slightly). Overall, given the tendency of
one set of indicators (the five point items) to show negative portrayal of
both groups and another (the 100 point scale) to show balanced portrayal,
we might begin to wonder if there is any significant difference between
coverage of the two groups and also if the indicators being used are reliable.
To tease out the data a bit more and address these issues, we can examine
not only overall mean scores for each group, but also mean scores for the
two types of stories encountered. Recall that Kerr and Moy discovered news
coverage to be less negative toward fundamentalists than articles written
by weekly columnists were. Table 2 demonstrates differences that become
more evident when we examine the data with this possibility in mind.
Forceful of views
A: significantly different from 0 at p<.05 1: Detroit Project
B: significantly less than 3.0, p<.05 2: Evangelical Environmental Network
C: significantly higher than 3.0, p<.05 3: The difference between the mean
D: significantly lower than 50, p<.05 scores for the dimension
Starting with the news articles, we can notice that the
religiously-oriented Evangelical Environmental Network was portrayed more
positively than the Detroit Project was in headlines, overall article copy,
and five of the six specific questionnaire items. In addition, readers
provided higher thermometer scores for EEN in news articles. However, in
most all cases, these differences were not significant at the .05 level.
The exceptions (places where there were significant differences) were
overall article copy and the "Responsible" question.
Moving to weekly columns, differences continue to be visible but in the
opposite direction. More importantly, many of the differences are
statistically significant. In this form of journalism, EEN was portrayed
more negatively than was DP on eight of nine indicators. Also, in six of
the eight differences, the resulting difference in means was significant at
the .05 level. Lastly, the thermometer measure for EEN in weekly columns
was the only thermometer reading in the study that was significantly less
than an expected measure of 50. Writers of weekly columns clearly portrayed
the Evangelical Environmental Network more negatively than they did its
To summarize the data presented above, they do reinforce some—but not
all—findings of Kerr and Moy (2002). When looked at side-by-side with a
secular group, the religious-based group studied here did not receive more
negative coverage by those who report the news. Though most of the data did
indicate negativity, many of the differences were not statistically
significant. And, the secular group studied experienced nearly equal levels
of negativity. As authors of the previous study indicated, the news
reporters' grounding in "objectivity" might be a reasonable antidote to any
anti-evangelical feelings such reporters could have (the presence or
absence of which is beyond the scope of this study).
More clearly evident in the data was that columnists in newspapers appear
to be less influenced by the antidote mentioned above. This finding
strongly supports the findings of Kerr and Moy who described the
columnist's attitude toward fundamentalists as a "stronger antipathy" (p.
63) than that manifest in other journalists. Such was notably the case
here. With the license that such columnists are given to opine, there
appears to come a willingness to do so in ways that persistently denigrate
certain groups. The repeated significant indications of negativity towards
EEN by columnists was not manifest toward the Detroit Project (at least in
statistically significant ways) herein.
Granted, there are notable limitations to this investigation that suggest
the need for further study. To begin with, this study contrasted two
advocacy groups chosen on the basis of coincidence of news coverage and
convenience to the researcher. Until other side-by-side studies are done,
certainty is limited. As an example of the difficulties this study poses,
some readers may have already noted that the EEN is actually out of step
with many who share the "evangelical" label. The sociological data suggest
that adherence to fundamentalist/evangelical religious beliefs is usually
negatively correlated with environmental concern (Woodrum & Wolkomir
1997). Could this and not religiosity in general be a significant factor
in flavoring the coverage? Or, could some other undetermined feature of
this religious group make it a unique target for media animosity?
Likewise, the Detroit Project was compared and contrasted with EEN on the
basis of coincidence and convenience. Perhaps idiosyncratic features of
this group make it an illegitimate counterpoint to EEN. For example, it is
not really an environmental group per se, but a political group. Also, some
news coverage of the group focused on alleged hypocrisy among its
leadership. Perhaps comparing the Evangelical Environmental Network with
someone else would have provided notably different results.
Such attempts to explain away media animosity toward evangelicals are
based—at least partly—on a desire to make this data fit with Underwood and
Stamm's (2001) findings which were cited at the beginning of this paper.
Why would reporters portray a religious group negatively if such reporters
are in fact highly religious? That is, the reason we might not believe
media coverage of evangelicals is negative is because we have data to
suggest that media practitioners are themselves very spiritual people.
But such reasoning is limited and deserving of further inquiry in the same
way that Kerr and Moy's (2002) study is limited and deserving of further
inquiry. Kerr and Moy looked at news coverage of fundamentalists and
declared it negative. Until we can say how that "negativity" compares to
the negativity in portrayals of other groups—a process begun here—we really
do not know that much. In like manner, saying that journalists are "more
religiously oriented than their critics have contended" (Underwood and
Stamm, 2001) really does not tell us much. Until we know how the
religiosity of journalists stands in similarity or contrast to the
religiosity of the population as a whole, we really do not know that much.
Investigations in this area seem just as important as any questions we
might have about idiosyncratic features of the Evangelical Environmental
Network flavoring coverage in the historical instance studied here. For
example, the EEN was completely willing to declare their evangelical
predilections in their nomenclature, and defied what Silk (1995) calls the
"civil religion" the media strongly defend. After all, the EEN did not ask,
"What would God drive?" Rather, they asked, "What would Jesus drive?" Such
a question brings religion into the public square in a way that many
liberal Protestants might find unsavory. We might thus ask, are most
"spiritual" reporters more comfortable with the evangelical religion of the
EEN, or the civil religion Silk describes? Until we know the answers to
such questions, claiming to have solid conclusions about the relationship
between the news media and religion would seem greatly premature.
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(SAMPLE QUESTIONNAIRE FORM.)
PLEASE ANSWER EACH OF THE FOLLOWING THREE AREAS OF QUESTIONING IN RELATION
TO THE STORY YOU JUST READ ABOUT THE DETROIT PROJECT (THE GROUP THAT
PRODUCED THE ANTI-S.U.V. ADS).
Overall, how is "The Detroit Project" portrayed?
A. In the headline B. In the article
1 Very negatively 1 Very negatively
2 Somewhat negatively 2 Somewhat negatively
3 Balanced/Neutrally 3 Balanced/Neutrally
4 Somewhat positively 4 Somewhat positively
5 Very positively 5 Very positively
For each dimension below, mark the answer that best reflects how this
article portrayed The Detroit Project. Circle your choice for letters a
Remember, your response should explain how the group was PORTRAYED, not how
you feel about them.
a. Very Somewhat Balanced Somewhat Very Does
intolerant intolerant tolerant tolerant
b. Very Somewhat Balanced Somewhat Very Does
unintelligent unintelligent intelligent
c. Very Somewhat Balanced Somewhat Very Does
irresponsible irresponsible responsible
d. Very Somewhat Balanced Somewhat Very
unpatriotic unpatriotic patriotic patriotic
much Somewhat Balanced Somewhat Very
little Does not
forcing their forcing their forcing
their forcing their apply
views on others views on
others views on others views on
much Somewhat Balanced Somewhat Very
little Does not
Overall, how does the article "feel" toward the Detroit Project? Use a
scale from 0 to 100, where 0 means "extremely unfavorably/negatively" and
100 means "extremely favorably/positively."
Number from 0 to 100 for this story ________ .
 Certainly anyone who disagrees with my willingness to deny the
significance of any potential distinctions between fundamentalists and
evangelicals could also recognize the possibility of future research here.
To provide just one example, replication of Kerr and Moy's study using the
term "evangelical" rather than "fundamentalist" could provide interesting
insights into whether the media do perceive a difference in the terms
(assuming that such a difference would be evident in the media's coverage).
 Nothing in the news coverage suggests members of one group were aware
of the other group's campaign. Some journalists did make reference to the
similarities in the groups' messages and timing.
 For more details about the history and nature of the group, please see
the group's website at http://creationcare.org.
 For more details about the formation and nature of the group, please
see the group's website at www.detroitproject.com.
 This is not to say that further investigations would nullify the
findings of this study. They might in fact add greater support. Given the
odd nature of the Detroit Project and the allegations of hypocrisy, one
might find that a more traditional environmental group would be presented
much more positively than DP (and therefore even more positively in
contrast to EEN).
 Though much maligned for its limited sample and overextension of
conclusions, Lichter, Rothman, and Lichter's (1986) study stands as a good
example of the type of research called for here. In comparing journalist's
specific religious values with those of the populous, the researchers
greatly advanced discussions of the secularity of the media.