Bobby Ross Jr.

More insight, less bias needed in media coverage of crosses on Texas police cars

More insight, less bias needed in media coverage of crosses on Texas police cars

Some Texas newspaper reports on Gov. Greg Abbott supporting the display of crosses on police cars have been pretty sketchy.

Sketchy as in half there.

Sketchy as in incomplete.

Sketchy as in, well, you know?

Take The Dallas Morning News, for example:

AUSTIN -- After saying ‘In God We Trust’ could be displayed on cop cars last year, Gov. Greg Abbott has now also come out in support of displaying the cross on patrol vehicles.
In a brief sent to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Abbott wrote that the crosses met the muster of separation of church and state.
“Even under the U.S. Supreme Court’s expansive interpretation of the Establishment Clause’s limited and unambiguous text, the Court has never held that public officials are barred from acknowledging our religious heritage,” Abbott wrote in his brief. “To the contrary, the U.S. Supreme Court has long recognized the demographic and historical reality that Americans ‘are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.’”
The brief is in response to some controversy surrounding the Brewster County Sheriff’s office, which recently allowed its officers to put bumper stickers of the cross on the back of patrol vehicles. Abbott has already spoken in support of the Brewster County Sheriff.
“The Brewster County deputies’ crosses neither establish a religion nor threaten any person’s ability to worship God, or decline to worship God, in his own way,” Abbott wrote in his brief to Paxton.

From there, the Dallas newspaper provides scathing quotes from the Freedom from Religion Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union, both condemning the governor's brief.

And that's it.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Huffington Post losing its religion: What's up as key staffers leave and news org drops RNS?

Huffington Post losing its religion: What's up as key staffers leave and news org drops RNS?

I never know quite what to make of the Huffington Post.

Is it a news publication? An advocacy commentary site? A combination of the two? This is a topic members of the GetReligion team have been debating for years, since our focus here is on mainstream news material.

On the one hand, the online-only news organization won a 2012 Pulitzer Prize for "Beyond the Battlefield," a 10-part series on the lives of severely wounded veterans and their families. Clearly, the HuffPost runs some serious news material.

On the other hand, regardless of what I think about Donald Trump, I find it difficult to take seriously the journalism of a media outlet that appends this note to its coverage of the Republican presidential candidate:

Note to our readers: Donald Trump is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacistbirther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S.

I bring up the HuffPost because of recent signs the website may be losing its religion. Literally.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Oklahoma is contemplating a 'sin tax' on cigarettes, but no one's calling it that

Oklahoma is contemplating a 'sin tax' on cigarettes, but no one's calling it that

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has close to 25,000 followers on Twitter, but she only follows 284 people. I'm one of the people she follows; I made a screenshot of this fact for after she realizes her mistake.

I assume my home state's governor followed me so she wouldn't miss any of my enlightening posts on GetReligion.

So I thought I'd write a post about Fallin — or more specifically, one of her proposals.

In her annual address to the state Legislature on Monday, the Republican chief executive proposed raising Oklahoma's cigarette tax by $1.50 a pack, as reported by The Oklahoman:

For her part, Fallin said “bold action” is needed given a budget crisis caused by a drop in oil prices. Lawmakers have about $900 million less to spend in next year’s budget compared to the current year.
The proposed cigarette tax increase would generate $181.6 million, while targeting a practice that is making many Oklahomans sick, Fallin said. Another $200 million would be realized through sales tax changes.
“If we don’t change the way we apportion and collect revenues, most state agencies will be faced with a 13.5 percent appropriation cut for the upcoming 2017 fiscal year — or a total cut of 16.5 percent since July 1 ” she said in her yearly State of the State address.

In a follow-up report on today's front page, Oklahoman Capitol Bureau chief Rick M. Green (a former Associated Press colleague of mine) noted that Oklahoma voters could decide the issue:

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Evangelicals in Iowa: Making sense of what happened in the first voting of 2016

Evangelicals in Iowa: Making sense of what happened in the first voting of 2016

Is your head still spinning?

I'll admit it: My head's still spinning as I try to make sense of what just happened among evangelical voters in the Iowa caucuses.

For months, we've heard about polls indicating that brash, foul-mouthed Donald Trump had become the darling of conservative Christians. (Whaaaaatttt?)

But Ted Cruz — not Trump — emerged victorious in the Hawkeye State, with Marco Rubio a close third.

What role did religion play?

Across the river in Nebraska, here's how the Omaha World-Herald described the outcome:

DES MOINES — The church vote proved stronger than a billionaire’s legion of angry fans Monday as Ted Cruz won the Iowa Republican caucuses.
Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, relied upon strong evangelical support to defeat Donald Trump, the flamboyant New Yorker whose entire political persona is built on the idea he is a winner and not a loser.
In fact, Trump barely held on to his second-place finish in the face of a surge by Marco Rubio, a Florida senator who many believe is now in a good position to unify the establishment wing of the Republican Party behind his candidacy.
“It’s a nice, nice bump for Cruz and it certainly puts Trump in the position of being a loser not a winner,” said Dave Redlawsk, a political scientist at Rutgers University who studies the Iowa caucuses.
“But the real story may be Rubio. He did better than anticipated,” said Redlawsk. “It suggests a big move to Rubio at the end.”

Please respect our Commenting Policy

When real life imitates The Onion: Welcome to the Stoner Jesus Bible Study in Colorado

When real life imitates The Onion: Welcome to the Stoner Jesus Bible Study in Colorado

It's "Punk'd" day at GetReligion.

Either that or the farcical newspaper The Onion has taken over real-life headlines.

My day started with this 100 percent serious tweet from Sarah Pulliam Bailey, the former GetReligionista who now covers religion for the Washington Post:

Donna Trump accidentally put money in the Communion plate at a church in Iowa wapo.st/1QSRuhX 

Later, I came across this weekend story from the Los Angeles Times:

The creed includes weed for these Colorado Christians

I don't guess we have to ask anymore what the Los Angeles Times is smoking. (I kid. I kid.)

Now, at this point I should stop the sarcasm (if only momentarily) and remind all of us (mainly myself) of the role of a journalist — specifically one writing about religion:

Please respect our Commenting Policy

God and baseball: Why sportswriters keep ignoring this MLB pitcher's Christian faith

God and baseball: Why sportswriters keep ignoring this MLB pitcher's Christian faith

Daniel Norris makes no secret of his Christian faith — no secret at all.

The Detroit Tigers pitcher's Twitter profile is typical of that openness:

I live to find 3 things. 1. Eternal life. 2. The strike zone. & 3. Good waves - 2 Peter 3:18 - Just Keep Livin' *dirtbag*

So why do sportswriters — again and again and again — either totally ignore that aspect of Norris' character or keep the nature of his faith vague?

The latest examples of how sports journalists treat the top prospect's faith come in recent reports on the 22-year-old having a malignant tumor removed from his neck this offseason. 

Despite a drive-by scattering of terms such as "prayer," "faith" and "eternal life," holy ghosts haunt the reports.

The Detroit Free Press notes:

After the season, Norris announced his cancer on Twitter and Instagram.
“I’m a firm believer in the power of prayer,” he posted Oct. 19. “So now, I’m asking for prayers.”
His faith is the center of his being. “It’s something to lean on,” he said. “Without faith, I don’t think I would be in the big leagues.”

Photo by Mark Cunningham, Detroit Tigers

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Surprise! Hillary Clinton talks faith on the campaign trail, and CNN joins Trump in botching Corinthians (updated)

Surprise! Hillary Clinton talks faith on the campaign trail, and CNN joins Trump in botching Corinthians (updated)

Wednesday afternoon update: Looks like CNN has corrected the mistakes we pointed out. Who says GetReligion doesn't get action?

• • •

Evangelicals' role in Iowa's Republican presidential contest seems to make nonstop headlines. That's not the case on the Democratic side.

Hillary Clinton has said advertising her faith "doesn't come naturally to me."

In a story this week on how the two major parties can't agree on the issues, let alone the solutions, the Washington Post noted:

At the Democratic debate, no candidate said the words “God,” “Christian,” “Bible” or “scripture,” and the three — Clinton, Sanders and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley — do not commonly use such words in their speeches.
By contrast, the Republican candidates tend to wear their faith on their sleeves, in part to win over conservative Christian voters in Iowa and other states.
Donald Trump brings his childhood Bible with him to some campaign rallies and holds it as a prop, although the billionaire mogul drew mockery when he botched a reference to Second Corinthians during a recent speech to students at Liberty University, the Christian college in Virginia founded by televangelist Jerry Falwell.
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush often talks about his Catholic faith and carries a rosary on the campaign trail.
And Cruz, whose father is a born-again Christian and travels the country preaching, has taken to quoting scripture in his stump speeches. He cites Second Chronicles 7:14 and urges his supporters to find time every day to pray for the country’s future.
“Just one minute when you wake up in the morning,” Cruz says. “When you’re shaving. When you’re having lunch. When you’re tucking your kids into bed.”

So when a voter asked Clinton about her faith Monday and the candidate responded with a rather detailed answer, I'm surprised no one yelled, "STOP THE PRESSES!" (I kid. I kid.)

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Media blackout? What media blackout!? Planned Parenthood case is front-page news — this time

Media blackout? What media blackout!? Planned Parenthood case is front-page news — this time

When the secretly recorded Planned Parenthood videos were released last summer, some accused the media of ignoring them.

Others said "thoughtful and substantive coverage" couldn't be rushed.

GetReligion highlighted both arguments in a July 2015 post.

Six months later, nobody's claiming a media blackout this time.

As one GetReligionista put it:

The angle everyone is talking about is the fact that the videos drew almost zero MSM coverage, especially in elite (think NYTs) ink, but the indictment moved as a flash bulletin, with major coverage everywhere....

In case you (somehow) missed the big twist in the Planned Parenthood case, here's the lede from today's Page 1 story in the Houston Chronicle:

A grand jury convened to investigate whether a Houston Planned Parenthood clinic had sold the organs of aborted fetuses on Monday cleared the clinic and instead indicted the undercover videographers behind the allegations, surprising the officials who called for the probe and delighting supporters of the women's health organization.
The Harris County grand jury indicted David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, both of California, on charges of tampering with a governmental record, a second-degree felony with a possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison. It also charged Daleiden, the leader of the videographers, with the same misdemeanor he had alleged – the purchase or sale of human organs, presumably because he had offered to buy in an attempt to provoke Planned Parenthood employees into saying they would sell.
Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson announced the indictments in a statement, noting the probe had lasted more than two months.
"As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us," said Anderson, a Republican. "All the evidence uncovered in the course of this investigation was presented to the grand jury. I respect their decision on this difficult case."

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Sorry, Heartland, you suffer from a major case of Islamophobia — an elite newspaper said so

Sorry, Heartland, you suffer from a major case of Islamophobia — an elite newspaper said so

On the front page of Sunday's Washington Post — below the banner coverage of "A blizzard for the ages" — ran a long, long profile of a young Muslim woman from Kansas.

The nearly 4,000-word story, told by a Pulitzer Prize-winning feature writer, follows a now-familiar media premise: Americans, particularly those in backward places like the Heartland, treat Muslim women who wear hijabs with suspicion and even disdain.

In this story — dubbed "The Education of Maira Salim" — the Post declares that Muslims like Salim are "enduring the worst spasm of Islamophobia in their lifetime as they decide their relationship with America."

We have, of course, repeatedly highlighted the problem with that word.

Granted, a lot of people on Twitter seemed to really like the Post's story on Salim. The piece was described as "beautifully sensitive," as "an engrossing read" and as "the very best of what the Washington Post does," just to cite a few examples.

And certainly, the story benefits from a talented writer:

 

 

Please respect our Commenting Policy