The Sept. 15 Back Page commentary by the Rev. Ben Campbell (“Free Jesus”) is not up to the standards that readers of Style Weekly have come to expect. The author makes references to words and actions of Jesus that are beyond verification. An article quoting a contemporary public figure in this regard would not be tolerated.
The author cited “elements of Jesus' teaching and ministry,” “Jesus treated every human being as important,” “the spirit which Jesus manifested in his confrontations with the Pharisees,” “Jesus insisted gently and persistently that allegiance to the God of the universe is a personal decision,” “Jesus is not afraid of the freedom of religion,” “Jesus pointed out daily” that “evil gets wrapped in the cloak of religion.”
What are the sources for these statements? Any words or actions attributed to Jesus come from sources removed by 50 years or more. While appropriate in a religious publication, statements of this type are not acceptable in responsible journalism.
Whenever I pick up a copy of Style, I turn first to the Back Page. I need not agree, but always look forward to sharp and challenging commentary. While I applaud Ben Campbell for trying to support freedom of religion, use of statements that depend on faith for verification doesn't meet the criteria that other statements of fact are held to.
Please keep religion out of daily discourse.