Saturday, April 09, 2011

EFC lays formal complaint about Radio-Canada news program on Faytene

[Posted at bene Diction Blogs On, Feb. 15, 2011]

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada is not happy with Radio-Canada's recent program about Faytene Kryskow and her allies. The evangelical lobby group appears to have submitted a formal complaint with the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council-- the private governing authority for participating TV broadcasters.

Yesterday (Feb. 14th), the conseravtive website and blog Lifesite, did its own item on the Radio-Canada news program last week which focused primarily on Faytene Kryskow and the influence that she and her like minded friends may have in Ottawa.

The Lifesite writer reports on the exchange between a Bloc MP and a Tory cabinet minister in the House of Commons last week They also quote Don Hutchinson, vice president and general legal-counsel for the EFC.

Mr. Hutchison commented yesterday on the EFC's blog Activate CFPL. The bottom of his post includes a link to the EFC's complaint "as filed"--meaning it has been submitted--to the CBSC

Hutchinson sees the program as discriminating against Christians who seek to, as is their right, participate in shaping public policy. The EFC complaint, though, also goes on to seemingly complain--in my reading-- that the relatively moderate EFC is being painted with the same brush as the more wild-eyed Faytene Kryskow.

Enquete, we remember, did mention the EFC, but only briefly, as one of many groups seeking to influence policy. Then the program went on to concentrate on Faytene Kryskow and those who think like her.

The complaint questions whether the tone of the broadcast was appropriate and whether an implication about the EFC was false. Then it says something interesting (emphasis mine):
2. By focusing on controversial issues and imagery and failing to balance and provide an
equitable portrayal of Evangelical Canadian Christians. Several of the issues and images
portrayed are controversial within the Evangelical Canadian community and are not
representative of Canadian Evangelicalism as a whole


....5. By negative stereotyping of Evangelical Canadians through derision of “myths, traditions
[and] practices” by simplistic and selective coverage of some Evangelical Christians’ religious practices. These practices are not representative of Canadian Evangelicalism as
a whole.

As I mentioned, I don't feel that my french is good enough to critique the tone and potential bias of the program. But I do feel that what the EFC says above might lead to an interesting comment.

I think that you could fairly render the highlighted parts above as something like this: "Not all Evangelicals think and act as Faytene does in a sometimes 'controversial' way." I think that if they were pressed, the EFC might add something like "We do not believe in Faytene Kryskow's dominionist theology and eschatoloical interpretations."

If Enquete did not dig deep enough to be able to be careful to differentiate between different shades of social conservative Christians, that is one issue.

But here is another--why should anyone in the media assume that Faytene Kryskow is as atypical as the EFC says?

Have they ever been told differently?

Let's, for a moment, give the EFC the benefit of the doubt and assume that-- while progressive onlookers (such as Marci McDonald) think it is improbable that social conservatives of any kind can "play nicely in the political sandbox"--the EFC's more moderate point of view is being unheard. Well, whose fault is it?

I have touched on this before. As a social conservative, I, myself, like some of what Faytene Kryskow says and does. As I point out, however, I disagree with her when she is extreme and dominionist. As she often, alas, can be.

I would respectfully suggest that social conservative Christians in Canada, often having a view that they need all the help they can get, welcome all hands to help. I argued in a post (in which I respectfully disagreed with Christian journalist Deborah Gyapong) that Social conservatives, in my own point of view should be careful to say where they disagreed with Faytene as well as agreed with her. Christians on the right, I feared, might be making a mistake in not raising up other devoted national Christian youth activists who are socially conservative and not dominionist or theocratic.

If you would argue that social conservative Christians can contribute to Candian politics in a fair and respectful way, is Faytene the best spokesman for this if there is to be, de facto, only one? Shouldn't others we raised uo to do what she does in a more moderate way? "Let George-er Faytene-do it" could lead to outsiders thinking that she speaks for you.

And lo and behold, as we watch the Enqete program, look at what happens. The program's reporters--seeing that the EFC and others are relucant to say "Here we agree with her, here we do not. Here she is right, and here she is wrong"--thinks, perhaps reasonably, that as Faytene thrusts herself forward, that she is the "national leader" that she says that she is?

What do you think that Enquete's reporters would think when they can find out news about Faytene and her activities on the EFC's own website, such as this story on her involvement with TheCRY or this story on her prayer efforts for Israel?

It is not Enquete's fault that Faytene may be better at planning and doing things that demand to be covered as news than other Christians may be at this moment. (Unless you believe that the media deliberately seeks out the most wacky and extreme Christians as straw men--which I don't seek to address in this post.)

Let's assume that you can perhaps argue that Faytene Kyskow is, in some ways, unique amongst Canadian Christians in her politics. But, if this is the case, how are reporters to know this if no-one--on the basis of not wanting to lose her passion and skills to the "cause"--is willing to say anything negative or make distinctions?

Assuming that the EFC critique is correct...Well I refuse to fault the Enquete reporters for not having the ESP that they would seemingly need to overcome the apparent lassitude of other social conservatives.

Reporters are not known for omniscience. Possible subjects of news stories should not depend on their having it.

UPDATE: As noted in Bene D's comment (thanks!), the EFC's complaint has now been forwarded to the CBC Ombudsman and the CRTC.