Religious media

Ch.1, §2: ‘Undeserved Respect’ (pp.41–50).

Just a minor point

Dawkins complains about the

privileging of religion in public discussions of ethics in the media and in government…. Why does our society beat a path to their door, as though they had some expertise comparable to that of, say, a moral philosopher, a family lawyer, or a doctor?

Now it so happens that a lot of religious leaders are (a) trained to a certain extent in moral philosophy, and (b) experienced at dealing pastorally with many of the ethical situations in question. However, I suspect that has nothing to do with why the media beat a path to their door. Some, perhaps most of that path-beating is no doubt a knee-jerk, rent-a-voice reaction, or the product of a lazy association of religion and morality that Dawkins is right to question. Nevertheless, the media presumably also beat this path because they regard the leaders in question as spokespeople for quite sizable constituencies who tend to have an interest in ethical issues. That is, to the extent that a charitable interpretation of this media habit is possible, I guess the explanation has less to do with respect, less to do with expertise, and more to do with the nature of religions as (loose, complex) affiliations of people into some kind of variegated community.

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