Gays

Slut-shaming the Christian convert in Kentucky who is open to compromise?

Slut-shaming the Christian convert in Kentucky who is open to compromise?

So The Washington Post has another news report out about the woman of the day, which would be Rowan County clerk Kim Davis in the hills of Kentucky. And, once again, readers who dig into this news feature will find it hard to learn a crucial fact about this embattled Democrat, who converted to Christianity four years ago.

Sorry to repeat myself, but I am going to have to repeat a pair of questions that I asked in my earlier post on this topic. I'm seeing the same gap in the basic facts about Davis and the stand she is taking.

Let's flash back to that:

To spot this gap, ask yourself this question as you read the news coverage on this story in the next few days: Is Ms. Davis trying to stop gay citizens from getting married? Yes or no. In fact, is her primary goal to stop them from getting married in he county?

I have heard for some readers who are saying, "Yes, Davis is trying to stop gay marriages."

At that point I have asked: "Then why is she backing efforts to promote political compromises that would allow gay marriages in Kentucky and in her own county?" If you dig a bit deeper, you'll find out that her primary goal is not to prevent gay marriages, but to prevent these marriages from taking place with her signed consent, in violation of the traditional Christian doctrines on this subject that she embraced four years ago.

The Post piece does offer more information on this woman who is under the gun, but it was silent at crucial points. Here is a crucial passage:

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Washington Post looks at Kentucky same-sex marriage wars, sees only two armies

Washington Post looks at Kentucky same-sex marriage wars, sees only two armies

If you are following the mainstream media coverage of the case of Kim Davis, the elected clerk of Rowan County in Kentucky, then you have basically been reading about a dispute with two sides.

On one side are the gay citizens who want to get married in this county. On the other side is an outspoken Christian who, as an act of Christian conscience, has stopped handing out marriage licenses to anyone, rather than be forced to hand them out to those planning same-sex unions.

The mainstream coverage has been very vivid and full of human details. However, there is an interesting void in the stories that I am seeing in elite media (and let's not even talk about television). To spot this gap, ask yourself this question as you read the news coverage on this story in the next few days: Is Ms. Davis trying to stop gay citizens from getting married? Yes or no. In fact, is her primary goal to stop them from getting married in he county?

Now, let's look at some of the Washington Post coverage, starting with an update filed late in yesterday's news cycle. The following passage gives readers both a status report in the standoff and a look at the drama on the scene:

U.S. District Judge David Bunning has set a hearing for 11 a.m. Thursday to determine whether to hold Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis in contempt, a charge that could carry with it a fine or jail time.
Davis’s decision came on a day of heated protests here. Dozens of supporters -- and critics -- of the county’s elected clerk gathered outside the courthouse, and at times inside the lobby, as gay couples tried, unsuccessfully, to get marriage licenses. After one couple was rebuffed, Davis emerged from a back office to explain that she would not be issuing any licenses.

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There he goes again? Pope Francis sends 'apostolic blessing' to gay writer and her family

There he goes again? Pope Francis sends 'apostolic blessing' to gay writer and her family

At various times and in many different ways, priests bless things.

Most notably, at the end of a liturgy, the priest blesses the whole congregation -- pretty much no matter who is out there in the pews or what these people may or may not have done. Priests have been known to entire bless crowds at other public events.

It's a blessing. Priests give out lots of them. So does the pope, come to think of it..

Most importantly, it's not the moment at the end of Confession when, after hearing the penitent confess his or her sins, the priest extends his hand over the person's head and says:

ABSOLUTION
God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.
The penitent answers: Amen.

This brings us to yet another one of those moments when Pope Francis takes an action that shocks people in the mainstream media, even though it is not all that shocking to people who are active in the Catholic Church.

Wait, is The Daily Beast mainstream media? Well, this particular story is pretty straightforward news, so let's go for it since it has the key information in one chunk. We'll jump in at the summary material:

The latest in a long list of dust-ups came this week when Francis apparently gave his blessing to Francesca Pardi, a children’s book author who happens to be lesbian and who has a title on the list of banned books in the Venice school district that has sparked a feud between Venice mayor Luigi Bugnaro and the likes of Elton John. 

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Concerning Mormons sticking with Boy Scouts, a little creativity goes a long way

Concerning Mormons sticking with Boy Scouts, a little creativity goes a long way

Inverted pyramid, you're still the one.

A staple of news writing for more than a century, the inverted pyramid "puts the most newsworthy information at the top, and then the remaining information follows in order of importance, with the least important at the bottom."

For example, most news organizations went the straightforward, "who, what, when, where, why and how" route with Wednesday's news concerning the Mormon church sticking with the Boy Scouts of America.

From The Washington Post:

The Mormon church announced Wednesday that it will remain in the Boy Scouts, a month after the church expressed major concern about the Scouts lifting a ban on openly gay adult leaders.

From The New York Times:

The Mormon Church announced Wednesday that it would continue its close association with the Boy Scouts for now, ending speculation that it would sever ties because of the Scouts’s decision last month to let openly gay men and women serve as leaders.

From The Deseret News:

SALT LAKE CITY — The LDS Church will continue to charter the nation's largest Boy Scout organization.

From CNN:

(CNN) The Mormon church will remain affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America despite the organization's decision to allow gay troop leaders, church officials announced Wednesday.

From The Associated Press:

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Mormon church announced Wednesday it will maintain its longtime affiliation with the Boy Scouts despite the organization's decision to allow gay troop leaders — preventing what would have been a thundering blow to the national association.

None of those ledes will win a Pulitzer. But they get straight to the point. And in a click-happy world, that's usually helpful.

But what might happen if a journalist tried a different approach?

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This piece on Episcopal Bishop William Love of Albany contains a big, big, big hole

This piece on Episcopal Bishop William Love of Albany contains a big, big, big hole

Want to see some completely unbalanced reporting in what was, I assume, supposed to be a hard-news story in a mainstream newspaper? Friends and neighbors, this Times Union story -- "Episcopal bishop's opposition to same-sex marriage creates rift" -- about Bishop William Love of the Diocese of Albany may take the cake.

Right up front, let me note that (a) this was an important story that should have been covered and (b) liberal Episcopalians in this diocese had every right to be outraged by their bishop's rejection of his denomination's somewhat limited embrace of same-sex marriage rites. Their voices deserved to be heard.

Wait, "somewhat limited" embrace? 

Ah, there is the rub. This story completely misses a key element of what the Episcopal General Convention did and did not do on this hot-button issue, a fact that made the final action taken quite unpopular with some -- repeat SOME -- liberal Episcopalians.

The bottom line: There is no way to understand the story in Albany without crucial facts that were omitted from this Times Union report. 

So what's the story? Here is the overture:

Episcopal Bishop William Love's opposition to same-sex marriage in defiance of the recent 78th general convention of the Episcopal Church that affirmed marriage equality has roiled the Albany diocese and caused parishioners to quit the Cathedral of All Saints in protest.
In a July 18 pastoral letter in response to last month's convention and June's historic Supreme Court ruling guaranteeing nationwide rights for same-sex marriage, Love cited a Book of Common Prayer definition of marriage as a "solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman."
Love was among just seven out of more than 100 bishops across the United States who flouted the convention's stance and publicly opposed same-sex marriage.

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Exit the National Cathedral dean, after only three years (but lots of edgy headlines)

Exit the National Cathedral dean, after only three years (but lots of edgy headlines)

As a rule, it's almost impossible to understand news in the Episcopal Church, and the global Anglican Communion in general, without understanding that these events are affected by trends and decisions at the local, regional, national and global levels.

So a tiny diocese in New England elects a noncelibate gay male as a bishop and there are revolts in the massive, growing churches of Africa and Asia, creating problems for the leaders of the giant but fading Church of England, which tries to figure out how to cope as the U.S. Episcopal Church goes rogue, while American leaders struggle with waves of local lawsuits, linked to all of this doctrinal warfare, from coast to coast.

This makes for complex news stories that are hard to cover in, oh, 600 words or so.

In that context, recent events at the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington -- better known as Washington National Cathedral -- are relatively simple and localized. While the cathedral looms large over the nation's capital, it has relatively little power at the national level and is almost irrelevant at the global level (unless it creates controversy that draws attention, perhaps by holding Islamic prayer services).

Thus, the decision by the cathedral's dean -- the Very Rev. Gary Hall -- to step down after only three years is, first and foremost, a local Episcopal story. As noted in an unusually long news story in The Washington Postthe fact that the cathedral is increasingly become a local institution is part of the problem.

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Wait! Which religious schools teach what about the moral status of gay sex?

Wait! Which religious schools teach what about the moral status of gay sex?

In recent years, I have been amazed -- when reading mainstream religion-news coverage -- to see basic moral and cultural beliefs that have been around in traditional forms of for millennia described as convictions that belong to "evangelical" Protestants, alone.

I understand what is going on when this happens. It's easier to bash away at televangelists for saying that sex outside of marriage is sin, as opposed to noting that these same beliefs have been articulated by popes, Orthodox rabbis, traditional Muslim leaders and others. Evangelical Protestants are popular enemies. The problem is that this presentation skews the facts of history.

Thus, I flinched the other day when I read a Salt Lake City Tribune report, picked up by Religion News service, about a Princeton Review ranking of campuses of higher learning that are opposed to recent trends in gay rights. Here is the top of the story. If you are holding a beverage, please set it aside to protect your screen and keyboard.

SALT LAKE CITY -- Brigham Young University remains one of the most hostile campuses in the country for gay and transgender students, according to an annual college ranking list.
But the private university does not top the list of LGBT-unfriendly schools. In fact, it came in sixth in a list of 10, mostly religious, schools. Grove City College (Grove City, Pa.) a Christian liberal arts school of 2,500 students. and Hampden-Sydney College, an all-male liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in Hampden Sydney Va., came in first and second.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that same-sex attraction is not a sin, but that acting on it is.

And? And? Isn't that an accurate description of the beliefs of millions and millions of other believers in a host of different traditions? 

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Icing on the cake: This time, Associated Press more properly frames same-sex wedding dispute

Icing on the cake: This time, Associated Press more properly frames same-sex wedding dispute

Way back in January, I criticized an Associated Press report on Jack Phillips, a Colorado baker who declined to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.

I argued that the AP improperly framed that story by reporting that Phillips "refused to serve" a lesbian couple.

AP's latest story — on a court decision in Phillips' case last week — does a better job of framing the issue in the lede:

DENVER (AP) — A suburban Denver baker who would not make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple cannot cite his Christian beliefs in refusing them service because it would lead to discrimination, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.
The three-judge panel said in a 66-page ruling that Colorado's anti-discrimination law does not prevent baker Jack Phillips from believing what he wants but that if he wants his business open to the public, he is prohibited "from picking and choosing customers based on their sexual orientation."

Yes, this lede, like the last one, refers to the baker "refusing them service," but it provides more needed context.

Moreover, the story does a nice job of presenting Phillips' point of view — including his contention that it's making a same-sex wedding cake, not serving a gay couple, that concerns him:

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Who am I to scrub? Did AP pull story about Pope Francis, teachers and same-sex marriage?

Who am I to scrub? Did AP pull story about Pope Francis, teachers and same-sex marriage?

If you have ever worked for a 24/7 wire service, or worked for a copy desk that deals with wire-service news copy, you know that it's very common for the Associated Press, Reuters and other wires to update stories. Sometimes they even add additional content -- this used to be called a "write-thru" -- that updates a story to make it longer and more complete.

Of course, there are also times when wire-service professionals make mistakes and, thus, their newsrooms issue corrections. Wire corrections are especially important since these organizations produce copy that is literally used in publications all around the world, as opposed to one news publication in one location. Wire mistakes were "viral" long before the digital concept of "viral" was even born.

What is rare, however, is for a wire service to make -- to the best of its ability -- a flawed or incorrect story completely vanish. In the Internet age it is ultra hard to scrub away evidence that a story was published.

However, that appears -- I repeat appears -- to be what happened with the story that GetReligion ripped into yesterday in a post that ran under the headline: "Associated Press editors seem to be saying, 'Who are we to report on Catholic teachings?' "

Now, when I wrote that post, this URL at the Associated Press site took you to a lengthy story that began like this: 

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Pope Francis refined his vision for the church last week when he said long-spurned divorced and remarried Catholics should be welcomed with "open doors." And he has famously parsed centuries of thought on homosexuality into a five-word quip: "Who am I to judge?"

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