In a Los Angeles Times piece by Robin Abcarian covering how evangelicals may vote in the next election, the reporter, to the benefit of her readers, does not let comments from a less-than-informed source stand as fact. Journalists have the difficult task of reporting on what people think or believe about a situation, which can be instructive, while also informing readers about what the actual facts are.
The case in point: Abcarian quotes an independent Baptist who says:
Mormons don’t see Jesus Christ for who Jesus Christ really is. That’s the big issue. They see him as a prophet, not the only begotten son of God.
The Church is politically neutral, so who someone votes for is not the point, but inaccuracies about the faith are. So it’s encouraging that, rather than letting that comment stand as fact, Abcarian inserted the following:
(There are many points of doctrinal disagreement between Christian evangelicals and Mormons, but whether Jesus was the son of God is not one of them. It is a foundation of the religion.)
You can almost hear 14 million Latter-day Saints offer a collective “Thank you!” The reporter’s clear explanation and correction shows what Mormons really believe.
Journalists aren’t expected to have a sweeping understanding of the doctrines of various religions, but understanding at least the basics, especially those things that adherents hold most dear (such as a belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God), enables them to write accurately, despite misconceptions some of their sources may have.