Editorial: New York Times misreads survey, but makes a point: Angels didn't appear to the elites

Angels Announcing the Birth of Christ to the Shepherds, Govert Flinck, 1639

The New York Times misreads a recent Pew poll to take a shot at Christians, but the newspaper unintentionally make a valid point - Christianity was never meant to be the religion of only the well-educated, the elites, and the powerful.

The Times’ headline pretty much says it all: “Christians in U.S. are less educated than religious minorities, report says.”

The articles goes on, “Religious minorities in the United States are far more likely to have attended college or a vocational school than members of the Christian majority, according to a review of census and survey data from 151 countries released on Tuesday that found wide gaps in education among followers of the world’s major religions.”

Now, the article does explain these gaps, but only in passing.

“The researchers said the educational differences among the faiths were rooted in immigration policies that favor the educated, as well as in political, economic and historical factors,” the Times reports.

The truth, of course, is that religious minorities such as Hindus and Muslims are largely made up of immigrants, and immigrants in general have higher education levels. So do their first-generation American children.

“Many of them arrive here for the express purpose of earning a graduate or medical degree,” responds John David Danielson in The Federalist. “That’s why Hindus in America are three times as likely as Christians to have a postsecondary degree.”

Davidson points out that the Times piece isn’t just a misreading of a survey, it’s also a misreading of religion. He quotes a Times editor, who said recently, “I think that the New York-based and Washington-based media powerhouses don’t quite get religion. We have a fabulous religion writer, but she’s all alone. We don’t get religion. We don’t get the role of religion in people’s lives.”

Still, there’s some truth to what the Times reports. Christians in America aren’t universally well-educated, They’re not always urban sophisticates. If the Times’ conclusion - that Christians are less educated - what of it? Christianity is hope for the poor and powerless.

We should remember, particularly in this Advent season, that Christ’s birth wasn’t announced to King Herod or to the Roman governors. It was announced to lowly shepherds.

As Luke recounts in his gospel (Chapter 2, verses 8-14): “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”


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