The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recently reached a new low in “pretend” coverage of religious matters by sending its “deputy Taste editor” to cover the New Baptist Covenant celebration in Atlanta.

The WSJ’s “Taste” section, from what I can gather online, is largely a collection of quirky or gossipy opinion pieces. Last week its “deputy editor,” one Naomi Shaeffer Riley, displayed a complete lack of taste for the New Baptist Covenant, apparently based on an almost equally complete lack of knowledge about the Baptists who were gathered in Atlanta for the historic Jan. 30-Feb. 1 event. Even the Southern Baptist Convention’s Baptist Press, which is often critical of moderate gatherings, provided fairer coverage.

In a cynical, sharp-tongued, error-riddled commentary published Feb. 8, Ms. Riley threw sarcastic sneers at the speakers, the program, the agenda, even the age of the attendees. In every case, Ms. Riley’s words and attitude suggested that she had developed her opinions before arriving in Atlanta, and was determined to see what she wanted to see.

Robert Parham of, who was one of Ms. Riley’s targets, has pointed to a litany of errors in the article, which should be a great embarrassment to a once-respected newspaper.

Many people read WSJ for insight on making good financial decisions. By covering Ms. Riley’s salary and travel expenses to the New Baptist Covenant, however, the paper has demonstrated its ability to make at least one really bad investment.

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