Polexit? Looking for news about tensions between EU and Poland's Catholic culture

Polexit? Looking for news about tensions between EU and Poland's Catholic culture

There is a circle of GetReligion readers who have, from time to time, been known to lose it at the sight of a URL pointing toward material from LifeNews.com, an advocacy journalism site that focuses, as the name implies, on issues linked to abortion, euthanasia, etc.

As I just stated, LifeNews.com is an advocacy site that, basically, covers one side of hot-button stories on these topics. If you are looking for fair coverage of liberal views on this topic, this is not the site for you.

However, if you are looking for clues and information about stories that are not receiving coverage in the mainstream press, this is a place to find tips about documents, events and sources that could lead to balanced mainstream coverage. In other words, LifeNews.com has the same approach to journalism as, let's say, Rolling Stone or, on moral and religious issues, the Kellerism-era New York Times. You go there to read about one side of an argument.

Some culturally liberal readers believe, in a strange echo of conservatives who write off the Times, that this means that all events or information reported at LifeNews.com should be ignored. I don't believe that about the Times and I don't believe that about the much smaller and less important LifeNews.com. I take what I see in advocacy publications with a grain of salt and look for links to valid information about views on the right and left.

That brings me, in this post-Brexit world, to this new LifeNews.com report, which ran with the headline, "Poland Defends Its Pro-Life Laws, Blasts EU Leaders Telling It to Legalize Abortion."

(CFAM) -- The Polish government snapped back at European bureaucrats in a scathing response to a report published last week by the Council of Europe that criticized Poland’s restrictive abortion law and its treatment of women.

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Must we keep talking about Citizen Trump and evangelicals? We must, we must ...

Must we keep talking about Citizen Trump and evangelicals? We must, we must ...

First things first: Why the nod to the classic farce "Blazing Saddles" at the end of the headline for this post?

Well, why not? Don't you sense the hand of comedy genius Mel Brooks behind the scenes in this election year? Believe me when I say, "I do, I do."

Thus, People keep asking me things like, "Why are we still talking about Donald Trump and the evangelicals?" Of course, the word "evangelicals" in this case has little or nothing to do with theology. It is a reference to one camp -- stress, one camp -- of mostly white evangelicals who at this point in time are either supporting Trump or who have not made up their minds on the issue.

We are still talking about them because no Republican has a chance to reach the White House in the era after Roe v. Wade without a massive turn out by these highly motivated voters. Republican winners also need strong support from conservative (think daily Mass) and middle-of-the-road (think Sunday Mass, most of the time) Catholics, but that's an issue very few people seem to be talking about. Has anyone heard a word from a U.S. Catholic bishop about anything for about six months?

We are also talking about Trump and this one camp of old-guard, white evangelicals (many can accurately be defined as "fundamentalists") because other evangelicals are talking about them, from the other side of a bitter and painful divide in pulpits and many pews. At this stage, even Trump's evangelical advisory team is packed with people who have not endorsed him.

So, once again, "Crossroads" host Todd Wilken and I, during this week's podcast, talked about the slow-motion train wreck that is Trump's campaign to get right with the God voters. Click right here to tune that in.

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Who's not with the program? White evangelicals, according to RNS

Who's not with the program? White evangelicals, according to RNS

Who is out of step with the country? Oh, you know. It's the white evangelicals.

That’s the apparent upshot of a story by the Religion News Service on a new survey.  The study, by the Public Religion Research Institute, highlights anxieties among Americans about immigration, terrorism, discrimination and cultural change.

But for RNS, it seems to come down to a single social-racial-religious class: white evangelical Protestants.

Americans also are split on whether American culture and the country’s way of life have mostly changed for the better (49 percent) or worse (50 percent) since the 1950s.
And, the PRRI/Brookings report said, "no group of Americans is more nostalgic about the 1950s than white evangelical Protestants," with 70 percent saying the country has changed for the worse. Americans also split politically on the question: 68 percent of Republicans agree things have gotten worse, while nearly the same share of Democrats (66 percent) say times are better.

This despite the next paragraph, which says that overall, 72 percent of Americans agree that "the country is moving in the wrong direction" -- up from 65 percent in 2011. "And most (57 percent) believe they should fight for their values, even if they are at odds with the law and changing culture," the article adds.

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Is there a religion ghost in Brexit victory for angry old Brits who keep clinging to the past?

Is there a religion ghost in Brexit victory for angry old Brits who keep clinging to the past?

Is there a religion ghost in the shocking, to many, Brexit vote?

Of course there is. Any issue this, well, HUGE is going to have links to religious beliefs and institutions, on both sides of the debate. However, it will take a while for that shoe to drop, methinks, as secular journalists begin their work -- of course -- with waves of news about the political and economic fallout.

That is to be expected. However, we can begin our search for the religion ghost in this story by asking two rather basic questions: In terms of media and cultural elites, who is upset about the Brexit victory? And these grieving people in the mainstream media (looking at you, Christiane Amanpour), who are they blaming for this defeat for rational thought and the world's glowing future?

For example, I have no idea who this young journalist is -- Rebecca Pinnington -- but I would imagine that there were plenty of professionals in major newsrooms thinking this exact same thought in the wee hours of this morning. What does it say that CNN has this quote on its front page, as I write this?

"When Donald Trump congratulates you on a political decision, that’s how you know you’ve made a mistake #EUref"

So who is to blame for this attack on the European Union and its supporters? It would appear, based on my early reading, that the chattering classes see this as a victory for old people who yearn for the values of the past and fear the wide open, evolving future. The word of the day appears to be "xenophobia."

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Omar Mateen's interesting trips to Saudi Arabia: The details are 'conservative' news?

Omar Mateen's interesting trips to Saudi Arabia: The details are 'conservative' news?

Journalists and all you careful consumers of foreign-news coverage, I have a question for you. At this stage, after the horrors of the massacre inside The Pulse gay bar in Orlando, what elements of the case do you think are drawing the most attention from investigators at the local, national and global levels?

Everyone (well almost everyone) is really interested, of course, in learning more about the motive for the crime.

That could be a local question or it could be a national question. That could be a global question. I can imagine a scenario in which it is all three and, for national-security experts, that is the nightmare scenario. What if the lone wolf wasn't really a lone wolf?

If that is the case, then it is fair to ask when Omar Mateen met radical jihadists with ties to ISIS or, at the very least, ties to radicalized forms of Islam that might lead a young man to sympathy for the Islamic State. Yes, the internet is a likely channel But the World Wide Web alone?

This brings me to the question that I have been asking for a week or so now. I would imagine that investigators are rather interested in what did or did not happen during Mateen's two relatively recent trips to Saudi Arabia, as in 2011 and 2012.

What? You have not read much about those rather expensive and flexible trips? Well, that's because, when it comes to follow-up work among journalists, these trips appear to be (wait for it) "conservative news."

Here is a typical New York Times reference, from early reporting:

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What happens when an article is wrong? The Atlantic dissects Jesus' 'wife' story

What happens when an article is wrong? The Atlantic dissects Jesus' 'wife' story

Certainly the religion story of the week -- or rather the story of the non-story -- was a bombshell piece published by The Atlantic called “The Unbelievable Tale of Jesus’ Wife” about how a forged piece of papyrus managed to pass as an ancient manuscript.

You remember that media storm, right? You remember all the coverage of the claim that Jesus was married and that centuries of Christian doctrines regarding his celibacy were lies or worse.

What was depressing about the Harvard scholar who originally revealed this great find in 2012 was how many media eagerly pounced on it as final proof that Christianity is not what it says it is. GetReligion had plenty to say about the coverage here, herehere and here, as there weren’t a whole lot of voices out there asking questions about thoroughly this Harvard professor had vetted the material.

But one reporter did have questions. Some of us know Ariel Sabar from his 2008 book “My Father’s Paradise” about exploring his Jewish past in Iraqi Kurdistan. Having traveled in that corner of the world, I was amazed at the amount of “shoe leather reporting,” as we call it, that went into tracking down his family’s history.

Sabar put plenty of shoe leather into the Atlantic story, which starts thus:

On a humid afternoon this past November, I pulled off Interstate 75 into a stretch of Florida pine forest tangled with runaway vines. My GPS was homing in on the house of a man I thought might hold the master key to one of the strangest scholarly mysteries in recent decades: a 1,300-year-old scrap of papyrus that bore the phrase “Jesus said to them, My wife.” The fragment, written in the ancient language of Coptic, had set off shock waves when an eminent Harvard historian of early Christianity, Karen L. King, presented it in September 2012 at a conference in Rome.

Never before had an ancient manuscript alluded to Jesus’s being married.

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Major oops! NPR discovers that the Rev. Billy Graham is, in fact, NOT dead

Major oops! NPR discovers that the Rev. Billy Graham is, in fact, NOT dead

This breaking news just in: The Rev. Billy Graham is, in fact, NOT dead.

For at least a brief time this week, NPR reported otherwise in its coverage of Donald Trump's closed-door meeting with (certain) evangelical leaders.

This is the correction appended to the bottom of the story:

Correction
June 21, 2016
An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to "the late evangelist Rev. Billy Graham." Graham, 97, has not died.

"Oops!" I said in reply to the GetReligion reader who shared the NPR link.

"That's a major oops!" the reader replied.

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That'll preach: GQ nails down the sins of Alabama's governor, but only in political terms

That'll preach: GQ nails down the sins of Alabama's governor, but only in political terms

Long ago, when I taught media and culture classes at Denver Seminary, I had a large bulletin board in the lobby outside the auditorium on which I pinned all kinds of items from the mainstream press.

This wasn't a current events board. Instead, my goal was to show the seminary community that all kinds of things were happening in the world around them that raised questions that were essentially moral and theological in nature.

There was, for example, a newsweekly cover about female anger and the movie "Thelma and Louise." I wasn't suggesting that pastors show video clips from this R-rated drama. My point was that the controversy swirling around it was important -- especially for people whose churches were involved in divorce-recovery ministry.

Mostly, I was trying to get seminary people to tune in, whenever the culture talks about ultimate questions. Hang on with me for a minute, because this is taking us into the pages of GQ and that feature story called, "The Love Song of Robert Bentley, Alabama's Horndog Governor."

Here is a piece of a book chapter from that time, explaining this "signal" concept:

I believe that our media are constantly sending out "signals" that can help the church go about its ministry and mission work in this post-Christian culture. Sadly, the church and our seminaries are ignoring both the content and social role of popular culture mass media, which are among the most powerful cultural forces in the modern world.
So what is a "signal?" I have defined this as a single piece of media or popular culture focusing on a subject that is of interest to the church. It can be a newspaper article, a single episode of a television show, a compact disc, a movie, a new video, a best-selling book or some other specific item.

Thus, a prime "signal" is when the mass media raise crucial questions, even if their proposed answers are less than adequate, from the church's point of view.

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Orlando through an Arab and (limited) Afghan media lens: Gays involved? Religion? No way!

Orlando through an Arab and (limited) Afghan media lens: Gays involved? Religion? No way!

Just so everyone knows where I'm going in this post, and to respond in advance to those who might accuse me of burying my lede, let me state here and now that the focus of this piece is about how media in the heart of the Muslim world -- the mostly Arab Middle East -- treated the Orlando massacre.

But first, this: The coverage in the United States and most of the world has been nothing short of overwhelming. The volume of information included in news stories, analysis and opinion pieces produced across the journalistic spectrum has been extraordinary.

Of course it wasn't flawless. How could it be when it had to puzzle together -- without having all the pieces -- the complexities of international terrorism, sexual orientation, cultural and religious influences, gun control and mass murder, presidential politics, the psychology of a twisted mind, and a state of almost unbearably sad raw emotion. Oh -- and doing it while under intense time and competitive pressures, and subject to instant online criticism.

So I'd say it's fair to conclude that today's unforgiving, report-first-confirm-it-later, 24/7 news cycle worked about as well as one can realistically hope it might. I tip my hat for a job well done to all those who worked from the scene and in news rooms to deliver this story of intense public interest.

Let's not overlook the good when perfection is out of reach. 

My reading of the preponderance of the coverage by mainstream, Western-oriented news operations was that it once again self-identified with the victims in the manner that follows every ugly manifestation of terrorist mass murder these days. What else could it do?

That is not to say there weren't pointed questions about America's politically sacrosanct gun culture. Or differences of opinion about the role played in Orlando by Islam and, in particular, the influence of the Islamic State.

Today, we are all Paris, Istanbul, Brussels, Mali, Kabul, Nigeria, Tel Aviv, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Syria, San Bernardino, etc., etc. There are far too many places to list them all.

Now, we're all Orlando. Who knows who we'll be in a week or two?

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