Spring Break Eternal

What does Campus Crusader Becca Johnson hear on the beach in Florida this spring break? Not waves or partying or even the solicitations of Girls Gone Wild filmcrews; Johnson hears the yearning of sunbathers to listen to the Good News. “‘They’re willing to listen to me, about my relationship with Christ, because they see that my life is more fulfilling than just drunkenness and sex,'” Johnson explained to MSNBC correspondent Roger O’Neil. O’Neil’s gloss on evangelizing vacations is only slightly more thoughtful than Johnson’s. Here’s his version of the good news: “Whether you’re walking the beach for Jesus or spreading the gospel of creationism with dinosaurs, opportunities abound to spend your vacation with your faith.” He’s right, we suppose, if by “your faith” he means aggressive conversion attempts, rinky-dink dinosaur-debunking operations and multi-million dollar “Christian science centers.” But more troubling than O’Neil’s lumping together a mass of kitschy culture-war artifacts and hard-core proselytizing as a representative survey of American “faith,” is his criticism-free repetition of the explanations he’s given by the purveyors of this kitsch, such as the folks at “Answers in Genesis,” which O’Neil trustingly refers to as “an organization dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith.” “Defend creationism,” or “fundamentalism,” would be a more accurate start, but that’s just asking for angry letters to the station. Better to call it faith-based — it’s a fluff-story after all — and nevermind if what you’re really reporting, and reinforcing, is a conservative truth: that “faith” equals Christian equals evangelical equals right-wing equals ready to rage on demand when a politician says any of the C- or E-words.