WaPo Headline Bias: Paper Profiles Clergyman 'Seeking to Put Asunder' Gay Marriage

Headline wording choice can set the tone for liberal bias, and a November 18 Washington Post Style front-pager is a classic example.

Profiling Pentecostal preacher Bishop Harry Jackson, the Post titled staffer Wil Haygood's story "Seeking to put asunder," an obvious allusion to Jesus's declaration about the holy nature of matrimony (Matthew 19:4-6 KJV):

And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made [them] at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Of course, that scriptural passage succinctly illustrates Jackson's point: Christian doctrine regarding marriage is that "from the beginning" God's design was one man and one woman in a "one flesh" union, but the effect of the headline's allusion is the same. The paper is portraying Jackson as a man who aims to "put asunder" loving, committed gay couples who are "married."

What's more, since the article spilled over onto page C5,  the Post's headline writers had another opportunity to take a swipe at Jackson with a jump page headline insisting of Jackson that, "His sermons against gay marriage fuel anger on both sides."

The article itself is a bit fairer, although Haygood seems to downplay the ire of Jackson's opponents while suggesting Jackson's supporters are equally prone to violence or intimidation.

For example, Haygood oddly noted that the ranks of Jackson's "critics" have grown such that "[m]ore than once, police have stopped by his Southeast Washington apartment to check on his safety."

But if your safety is threatened, aren't the people doing so more than simply "critics"?

Haygood also noted that "[s]ome of his appearances unleashed vitriol, even threats" against Jackson but that "some of Jackson's followers gave it back" at a June Board of Elections meeting, issuing "mini-tirades that seemed cruel and mean-spirited" and which "Jackson says he regrets."

Haygood added that some "[c]ritics have accused Jackson of being a tool of the right wing, a preacher suddenly in love with the klieg lights and big auditoriums," but failed to consider that Jackson has garnered the coverage he has because he represents the sentiments of hundreds if not thousands of D.C.-area Christian clergy, and thousands if not hundreds of thousands of their parishioners.

Many of those parishioners are D.C. voters and a large number of them simply want a voice in the matter of whether their city council gives its stamp of approval on same-sex marriage.

But when it comes to the Washington Post, they'd rather paint a conservative Christian as the one seeking to tear couples asunder, rather than the liberal D.C. government as the agency seeking to tear asunder the will of the people they govern.

Religion Sexuality Culture/Society Christianity Anti-Religious Bias Same-sex marriage Washington Post Harry Jackson Wil Haygood

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