Christians aren't the only ones with values

Question: First I want to thank The Spokesman-Review for the article on the Faith and Values page about “paganism” a few Saturdays back. That’s opening up the page in a positive way to the full range of faiths in the world. But, I’m still troubled by the fact that only Christians are allowed to write opinion pieces for that page (the two ministers), leaving any reasonable reader, by default, to conclude that the editors have decided that only Christian ministers have anything of value to say about values. Values, understood in their most comprehensive sense, are the provenance of every animal on the planet. In fact the only absolute, universal value is the value each of us places on his or her own values. -- George Thomas, Spokane

Answer: I've been giving Mr. Thomas' question and its implications considerable thought. Later this month I'll be one of 10 editors from around the country meeting at the Annenberg School of Communication at USC to discuss how we cover, and how we should cover religion issues. Our goal will be to develop some ideas that break newspapers out of traditional self-imposed limitations in order to produce coverage plans that reflect the religious diversity of our communities.

Our religion and values page really is a relic of the old "religion page" mentality. Traditional pages are Christian-centric and tend to frame values discussions in religious terms. There is no doubt in the minds of editors here that our coverage plan needs to change...not to reduce the Christian perspective, but to include other perspectives, as well. Following my return from USC, we'll be huddling to review our religion coverage and specifically our Saturday package. -- Steve Smith, editor

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