The following is an example of how the war in Lebanon was commonly reported.

Routinely, "Maronite" Roman Catholics were labeled as generic "Christians."

I urge the reader to carefully consider the following [mis]use of the label "Christian."

Web posted by ................... CNN

August 17, 1996

Big Christian vote likely in Lebanon's election

BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- Polls open Sunday in the first stage of month-long Lebanese parliamentary elections that will measure the strength of resurgent Christian opposition to the Syrian-backed government.

Hardline Christians have called for a repeat of the 1992 election boycott, which was staged to protest electoral law and the presence of 35,000 Syrian troops in the country.

But an opinion poll published on the eve of elections in Mount Lebanon forecast a heavy turnout among the 655,000 voters, of whom about 450,000 are Christians.

A big Christian turnout is likely to favor opposition candidates who are challenging supporters of the pro-Syrian government for seats in parliament, political analysts say.

The vote Sunday in Mount Lebanon will decide 35 of parliament's 128 seats. Voting for the other seats will take place in different regions over the next four Sundays until September 15.

The election in the Middle East's oldest democracy is being waged on virtually every signpost and palm tree, which are covered with candidates' posters. But opponents say the election will only serve to legitimize Syria's dominance.

"We have called for the boycott of the parliamentary elections because 239K AIFF Lebanon is under Syrian control," said Gen. Michel Aoun, who fled Lebanon into exile after Syrian troops defeated his resistance movement in 1991.

"Syria is trying to strengthen its hegemony in Lebanon by controlling more and more institutions," Aoun told CNN from Paris.

But Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri called on the Lebanese people to "do their duty" and vote. Historically, 45 percent to 55 percent of the electorate turns out, he said.

"It is a full, free, fair election, and otherwise I would not participate in or take responsibility of it," Hariri said. He said there was no viable alternative to the ballot to change a democracy.

The boycott four years ago left many polling places deserted. Calls for a new boycott come from home and abroad, but the Christian community itself is divided. A boycott would let in pro-government candidates.

A number of prominent Christian opposition politicians have reversed their stand and are fighting to get into parliament, after being marginalized since the last election.

But others in the opposition maintain voters have no real choice before them in this election.

"It will allow the pro-Syrian government in Lebanon to bring in a whole bunch of candidates that are practically nominated in advance," opposition leader Douri Chamoun said.

CNN International Anchor Jim Clancy and Reuters contributed to this report.