Once Upon a Times…

Barb Wire

Liberals believe in recycling their garbage alright. Every election, the left-leaning press seems to trot out the same tired obituaries about the evangelical movement, desperately hoping that their warnings about our “waning political influence” will come true. Today’s eulogy comes courtesy of the New York Times, which devoted a front-page story to familiar faces in the battle over religious liberty: Betty and Dick Odgaard. The former owners of the Gortz Haus, a church-turned-bistro, first made national headlines when the Odgaards turned down a request to host a same-sex marriage. After an intense legal fight that prompted the couple to give up the business, the Odgaards hit the road to warn other Americans that the threat to their freedom is real.

Now, a year after traveling with conservative presidential candidates and speaking at religious liberty rallies, the New York Times paints the couple as abandoned and isolated — evidence, they claim, of a dwindling evangelical movement. “Torn over Donald Trump and Cut off by Culture Wars, Evangelicals Despair,” the headline read. Using the Odgaards as the icon of a movement of outliers, the Times insists that “One day, they felt comfortably situated in the American majority, as Christians with shared beliefs in God, family and the Bible. They had never even imagined that two people of the same sex could marry. Overnight, it seemed, they discovered that even in small-town Iowa they were outnumbered, isolated, and unpopular… ‘It all flipped, so fast,’ said Mr. Odgaard… ‘Suddenly, we were in the minority. That was kind of a scary feeling. It makes you wonder where the Christians went.'”

Outnumbered, isolated, and unpopular? Unpopular, maybe. But anyone who says evangelicals are outnumbered and isolated either hasn’t been paying attention or has another agenda. With the New York Times, the answer is easy. Like a lot of the liberal media, it desperately wants to depress Christians and suppress election turnout — and the easiest way to accomplish that is to make Christians feel marginalized. Unfortunately for the Times, that trick is as older than The Gray Lady itself. And what’s more, the evidence doesn’t back it up. If anything, the impact of evangelicals is exploding, as we saw in the presidential primaries. In a trend that stumped most political experts, millions of people in interviews and exit polling were suddenly identifying themselves as evangelicals. And while the term has been watered down of late, there’s no question that the movement attracted a lot more attention for its growing size and enthusiasm in this election — making the Times’s characterization of the evangelical movement completely and utter propaganda. That’s not writing, it’s wishful thinking.

If anyone’s being spurned, it’s this niche news outlet, whose only purpose seems to be currying for elitists who’ve always been anti-Christian. As far as popularity goes, the Times ought to look in the mirror. After two straight quarters of losses, things are looking bleak for the company. Maybe if it spent more time reporting the news instead of making news up, it would recover the trust readers have obviously lost.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Tony Perkins
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law. (Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)

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