Given the nature of both the topic and the media, if religion is covered as news, the bad stuff will predominate; if it appears as features, the good side gets a chance to show, says Martin E. Marty. He illustrates his point with reference to Southern Baptists in the USA.
A reported decline in US Catholic and Southern Baptist membership raises eyebrows because they have grown dependably over the years, but now join the majority of mainline churches reporting a gradual decline.
Former US President Jimmy Carter, who left the 15 million strong Southern Baptist denomination because of its exclusivism, has enthusiastically backed a three day convention seeking reconciliation among the wider US Baptist community.
A network of sexual abuse victims' advocates originally set up to challenge the Catholic Church in the USA has started to pressure the president of the Southern Baptists, America's largest Protestant denomination, to take action against abusive ministers and elders in its ranks.
Former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton are backing a new centrist organization for US Baptists which they hope will give space for a progressive Christian voice and improve the negative image of Baptists in North America.