Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Nutty Mormon in the Guardian

As Massimo Introvigne so ably pointed out in the International Journal of Mormon Studies recently, the European Press does a poor job of evaluating Mormonism,  often getting their facts wrong and playing our faith as stereotype.

Today, London’s Guardian again framed Latter-day Saints as nut cases.  World-renowned Burmese peace activist Aung San Suu Kyi receive a visitor this week – a violation of her house arrest and a visit that appears that it will extend her tragic confinement. 

The visitor was John Yettaw, the Guardian reports, who was also arrested.  He had home-made flippers and swam about a mile across the lake that isolates her. 

Catch these stereotypes for strange people in the article:  He is a Vietnam vet.  He is from the Ozarks.  And, that’s right, he’s evidently a Mormon – supposedly working on a “faith-based” book on heroism.  He is even described as a “nutty fellow” in the article.

Credit, however, goes to The Washington Post.  Its much-more detailed, factual account of the event never brings up his faith – it isn’t relevant to the story.  So, when people say, "Why do reporters always bring up a Mormon’s faith in stories?" They don’t always know the times reporters don’t.

Here is a clear example of a media representative doing the right thing by not engaging in stereotype or bringing up a faith. 

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