As David Haskell pulled together visuals for his report on a Christian school’s prayer garden, he suddenly found himself in a contentious position.

The controversial imagery in question? A chaplain saying a prayer.

“It was the fact he was saying ‘Jesus’ all the time,” he recalled.

Haskell said he was told the story would be pulled unless the visuals were removed. There were concerns their inclusion “would make people uncomfortable.”

The former TV reporter said this incident was emblematic of a number of others that had taken place over the years, and was part of what inspired him to investigate how the news media cover evangelical Christians.

In Through A Lens Darkly: How The News Media Perceive and Portray Evangelicals, Haskell examines news coverage as well as journalists’ feelings and perceptions about evangelicals.

“What I endeavoured to do was to try and find the link,” said Haskell, an associate professor of journalism and contemporary studies at the Brantford, campus of Wilfrid Laurier University.

“I was looking for the link between reporters’ attitudes and their coverage, and then also I wanted to run it statistically to see if there was statistically significant difference between different answers based on different opinions.”

The study found a mostly negative view of evangelicals by the media.