Bobby Ross Jr.

New York Times goes to the zoo and reports on those strange Southern animals who oppose same-sex marriage

New York Times goes to the zoo and reports on those strange Southern animals who oppose same-sex marriage

It's Homer Simpson vs. The Professor as The New York Times this week pretends to provide a balanced report on opponents of same-sex marriage in North Carolina.

The online headline of the Times story that appeared on the newspaper's front page Thursday proclaims:

Opponents of Gay Marriage Ponder Strategy as Issue Reaches Supreme Court

But don't let the headline fool you. 

Supporters of a traditional biblical view of marriage as a sacred union between one man and one woman actually play only bit parts in this slanted report (Kellerism, anyone?) in which backwoods simpletons square off against sophisticated experts from elite universities. (Too bad there aren't any smart people to interview on the traditional marriage side.)

No, the top quote isn't a hick declaring that "God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve," but it's close:

EDEN, N.C. — John G. Kallam Jr., 67, carries a worn black Bible and another copy on his iPad, and believes Scripture is unequivocal.

“Sodom and Gomorrah, that story alone tells you what God thinks of same-sex marriage,” he said. “God said that homosexual behavior is a sin and that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Like three-quarters of the voters in rural Rockingham County, he checked “yes” in the 2012 plebiscite when North Carolina joined some 30 other states in adopting constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. “I breathed a sigh of relief,” he recalled.

But last October, Mr. Kallam was stunned when a federal judge overturned the ban.

An appointed county magistrate, Mr. Kallam was obligated to perform civil marriages. So he resigned, one of six in the state who stepped down to avoid violating their faith.

Keep reading, and opponents of same-sex marriage — including Kallam — are presented as angry and resentful, although the newspaper provides no quotes or evidence to back up its usage of those terms.

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Revving Motor City's front-page engines with a pistol-packing priest and concealed-carry Catholics

Revving Motor City's front-page engines with a pistol-packing priest and concealed-carry Catholics

When a Catholic priest urges parishioners to pack heat and asks a woman afraid of guns, "Well, how do you feel about rape?" it's probably no surprise when he makes the front page.

Such is the case with the Rev. Edward Fride, a Michigan clergyman featured on Page 1 of the Detroit Free Press the last two days.

The lede on the Detroit newspaper's original story:

An Ann Arbor Catholic priest has urged his parishioners to arm themselves and attend classes at Christ the King parish to earn a concealed pistol license (CPL).
In a letter sent to Christ the King parishioners recently, the Rev. Edward Fride explained why he believed it was necessary to get concealed pistol licenses because of recent crime in the area. During a Palm Sunday mass last month, Fride announced that the parish would be holding the CPL class.
When some parishioners questioned the decision, Fride sent out a pro-gun letter titled "We're not in Mayberry Anymore, Toto" – a reference to the 1960s-era Andy Griffith Show and its portrayal of a fictional North Carolina town, as well as Dorothy's dog from the Wizard of Oz.
"It is very common for Christians to simply assume that they live in Mayberry, trusting that because they know the Lord Jesus, everything will always be fine and nothing bad can happen to them and their families," Fride wrote.
"How to balance faith, reality, prudence, and trust is one of those critical questions that we struggle with all our lives. Pretending we are in Mayberry, while we are clearly not, can have very negative consequences for ourselves and those we love, especially those we have a responsibility to protect. If we are not in Mayberry, is there a real threat?"

News of the gun classes did not please Fride's bishop.

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CEO cuts his $1 million salary to pay all employees at least $70,000 — is media missing religion angle?

CEO cuts his $1 million salary to pay all employees at least $70,000 — is media missing religion angle?

You may have heard about the Seattle CEO who cut his own $1 million salary to pay all his employees at least $70,000 a year.

In case you missed it, here's how The New York Times reported the news last week:

The idea began percolating, said Dan Price, the founder of Gravity Payments, after he read an article on happiness. It showed that, for people who earn less than about $70,000, extra money makes a big difference in their lives.
His idea bubbled into reality on Monday afternoon, when Mr. Price surprised his 120-person staff by announcing that he planned over the next three years to raise the salary of even the lowest-paid clerk, customer service representative and salesman to a minimum of $70,000.
“Is anyone else freaking out right now?” Mr. Price asked after the clapping and whooping died down into a few moments of stunned silence. “I’m kind of freaking out.”
If it’s a publicity stunt, it’s a costly one. Mr. Price, who started the Seattle-based credit-card payment processing firm in 2004 at the age of 19, said he would pay for the wage increases by cutting his own salary from nearly $1 million to $70,000 and using 75 to 80 percent of the company’s anticipated $2.2 million in profit this year.

So why do I bring up this business story at GetReligion?

Well, in the above video, doesn't Price look a whole lot like Jesus?

Seriously, did you notice the name of the CEO's alma mater? 

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South Carolina blind spot: Revisiting media's (lack of) coverage of faith in police shooting death

South Carolina blind spot: Revisiting media's (lack of) coverage of faith in police shooting death

In a couple of recent posts (here and here), we highlighted holy ghosts in media coverage of Walter Scott's police shooting death in South Carolina.

As we pointed out, the faith of Scott's parents was impossible to miss in major network interviews, even as those asking the questions seemed intent on ignoring the religion angle.

Host Todd Wilken and I discuss the coverage in this week's episode of "Crossroads," the GetReligion podcast. Click here to tune in.

During my conversation with Wilken, I mentioned a comment that tmatt made on one of my previous posts. Tmatt pointed to a classic quote from Peter Jennings, the late ABC anchor, about the media's blind spot in such cases. The setting was a 1993 conference on religion and the news at Columbia University in New York.

Tmatt recalled Jennings' observations in a 2005 column:

The anchorman tried to blend in, but a circle formed around him during a break. It was easy to explain why he was there, he said. There is a chasm of faith between most journalists and the people they cover day after day. Six months later, I called him and asked to continue to conversation.
Anyone who has watched television, said Jennings, has seen camera crews descend after disasters. Inevitably, a reporter confronts a survivor and asks: "How did you get through this terrible experience?" As often as not, a survivor replies: "I don't know. I just prayed. Without God's help, I don't think I could have made it."
What follows, explained Jennings, is an awkward silence. "Then reporters ask another question that, even if they don't come right out and say it, goes something like this: 'Now that's very nice. But what REALLY got you through this?' "
For most viewers, he said, that tense pause symbolizes the gap between journalists and, statistically speaking, most Americans. This is not a gap that is in the interest of journalists who worry – with good cause – about the future of the news.

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In reporting on Baptists, bootleggers and beer, why not talk to some actual Baptists?

In reporting on Baptists, bootleggers and beer, why not talk to some actual Baptists?

There's an old joke that Jews don't recognize Jesus as the Messiah, Protestants don't recognize the pope as the leader of the Christian faith, and Baptists don't recognize each other at the liquor store.

I thought about that tidbit of religious humor this week as I came across news reports on a study related to Baptists, bootleggers and beer.

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist brews up this witty take on the controversy:

In Georgia, you can buy apples where they grow apples, and onions where they grow onions. You can buy rugs where they make rugs, and newspapers where they make newspapers.
Sometimes, you can even buy laws where they make laws. But under no circumstances can you buy beer where they make beer.
In the recently ended session of the Legislature, a new generation of craft beer brewers attempted to update one of the most restrictive alcohol sale laws in the nation. They were treated to a drubbing of humiliating proportions.
The best they could do was legislation that permits breweries to offer free beer to visitors who pay to tour the facilities.
The defeat was entirely predictable. In fact, not only did Stephan Gohmann see it coming, the University of Louisville professor of economics wrote a paper on the phenomenon, published days after our General Assembly exited.
Craft breweries in Georgia and the rest of the South, Gohmann posits, have run afoul of the “Baptists and bootleggers” relationship that has defined the politics of alcohol in the region since the days of Prohibition.
“Why Are There So Few Breweries in the South” appeared last week in the academic journal “Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice.”

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Why does Washington Post label one religious freedom law 'controversial' and another 'historic?'

Why does Washington Post label one religious freedom law 'controversial' and another 'historic?'

In the media storm over a religious freedom law passed in Indiana, the Washington Post repeatedly used the term "controversial" to describe the measure (examples here, here and here).

However, the Post prefers other words to characterize a gay rights bill passed in Utah, including "landmark" and "historic."

In a story this week, the Post goes behind the scenes of the legislative compromise in Mormon-dominated Utah.

The lede:

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s historic compromise aiming to balance gay and religious rights had yet to be unveiled, but on that fateful night last month, it was already unraveling.
A handful of legislators and other negotiators were seated around a squat wooden table in the blue-and-gold Senate lounge, struggling to resolve the remaining — and seemingly irreconcilable — differences between gay rights activists and the influential Mormon Church. Tempers were flaring.
“The tornado and hurricane and typhoon arrived in that room that night and the wind was blowing, and the tree of our whole effort was down at 45 degrees,” recalled Sen. Jim Dabakis (D), the state’s only openly gay legislator.
But the two sides, drawing on an unlikely trust nurtured during years of quiet rapprochement, were able that night to reach a breakthrough.
Within days, they sent a bill to the state legislature — and a message to a politically riven nation that compromise was possible, even on one of the most divisive social issues, even in one of its most conservative states.

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In Tennessee, is the Bible up there with 'Rocky Top,' salamanders and tulip poplars?

In Tennessee, is the Bible up there with 'Rocky Top,' salamanders and tulip poplars?

The Bible is making headlines in the Bible Belt.

In Tennessee, lawmakers are debating whether to make the Holy Bible the official state book.

And what a fun discussion it is:

A bill to make the Bible the official book of Tennessee isn't very "respectful" in the view of Gov. Bill Haslam.
The Tennessee Attorney General also thinks the bill, set for a vote Tuesday morning in the House, may be unconstitutional.
"The governor doesn't think it's very respectful of what the Bible is," said David Smith, a Haslam spokesman.
The Associated Press obtained a copy of an opinion from Attorney General Herbert Slatery. The AP writes that Slatery believes the bill would violate separation of church and state provisions in the federal and state constitutions.
Slatery's office hadn't widely released the opinion as of Monday evening.
Haslam, who is an elder at Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, echoes concerns of Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, and other legislative leaders about the bill. Ramsey and Norris said they revere the Bible, but they thought including it in the list of official state items along with the catfish and "Rocky Top" is offensive.
"I mean the Bible is my official book, it is. It shouldn't be put in the Blue Book with 'Rocky Top,' salamanders and tulip poplars. I'm sorry; it just shouldn't," Ramsey recently told reporters.

Can we go ahead and nominate Ramsey for "Quote of the Year?"

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Was there a spiritual component to the funeral for Walter Scott, the black man shot by a South Carolina police officer?

Was there a spiritual component to the funeral for Walter Scott, the black man shot by a South Carolina police officer?

Racism.

That was the obvious lede from Saturday's funeral for Walter Scott, the black man whose videotaped shooting by a South Carolina police officer sparked national outrage.

 

The Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and USA Today all focused on that angle — and rightly so — after the victim's pastor said he had no doubt Scott's death "was motivated by racial prejudice."

But here's my question: Was there a spiritual component to the funeral?

Beyond the Rev. George D. Hamilton's remarks about race, did he say anything about faith? Did he read any Scriptures? Did he pray?

The AP hinted at religious elements to the service — but just briefly:  

Scott was remembered as a gentle soul and a born-again Christian. "He was not perfect," the minister said, adding that nobody is.
The two-hour service included spirituals and remembrances of the 50-year-old Scott.

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Ghosts in South Carolina: 'The Lord is my strength,' says mother of black man shot to death by police officer

Ghosts in South Carolina: 'The Lord is my strength,' says mother of black man shot to death by police officer

Watch any of the major network interviews with the parents of Walter Scott — the black man shot to death as he ran away from a South Carolina police officer — and their faith is impossible to miss.

As Judy Scott visits with CNN's Anderson Cooper, for example, it's almost humorous the way she keeps trying to talk about God while he presses for details related to her son's shooting.

"The Lord is my strength," the mother tells Cooper, when asked how she's holding up. She describes "knowing God as my personal savior."

Asked what she thinks of Feidin Santana, the Dominican immigrant who captured her son's death on video, Judy Scott replies, "He was there. God planned that. He's the ram in the bush. I truly believe that."

"Ram in the bush" is a biblical reference, but Cooper doesn't ask the mother to explain.

Later in the CNN interview, there's this exchange:

Judy Scott: "I mean, I’m supposed to be really angry and upset and raging and all that. But I can’t. Because of the love of God in me, I can’t be like that. The Bible let me …"
Cooper: "But you don’t feel that in your heart?"
Judy Scott: "No, I feel forgiveness in my heart. Even for the guy that shot and killed my son."
Cooper: "You feel forgiveness?"
Judy Scott: "Yes, for him."

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