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Baltimore Sun, before the fire began falling, talks to (a few) black pastors about Freddie Gray

Baltimore Sun, before the fire began falling, talks to (a few) black pastors about Freddie Gray

It's time to give a salute to The Baltimore Sun for trying to do a timely, highly relevant religion-beat story in the midst the civic meltdown ignited by the still mysterious death of Freddie Gray. If you have a television, a computer or a smartphone (or all of the above) you know that the situation here in Charm City is only getting more complex by the hour.

This past weekend's story -- "What's the role of the church in troubled times? Pastors disagree" -- reminded me of some of the work I did in a seminary classroom in Denver while watching the coverage of the infamous 1992 Los Angeles riots. Facing a classroom that was half Anglo and half African-American, I challenged the white students to find out what black, primarily urban pastors were preaching about the riots and I asked the black students to do the same with white, primarily suburban, pastors.

The results? White pastors (with only one exception) ignored the riots in the pulpit. Black pastors all preached about the riots and, here's the key part, their takes on the spiritual lessons to be drawn from that cable-TV madness were diverse and often unpredictable. The major theme: The riots showed the sins of all people in all corners of a broken society. Repent! There is enough sin here to convict us all. Repent!

So when I saw the Sun headline, I hoped that this kind of complex content would emerge in the reporting. The African-American church is a complex institution and almost impossible to label, especially in terms of politics. There are plenty of economically progressive and morally conservative black churches. There are all progressive, all the time black churches that are solidly in the religious left. There are nondenominational black megachurches that may as well be part of the religious right. You get the picture.

So who ended up in the Sun, talking about the sobering lessons to be learned in the Freddie Gray case, in a story published just before the protests turned violent?

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Stephen Curry can do all things? Public-service note for scribes covering NBA playoffs

Stephen Curry can do all things? Public-service note for scribes covering NBA playoffs

Hey, old people who read GetReligion and know rock 'n' roll history (Hello Ira): Do you remember the days when people would write "Eric Clapton is God" on walls in London?

I think we are just about to hit that point with the so-hot-he-might-hurt-your-eyes hoops comet named Stephen Curry. Yes, I saw "The Move" against the Clippers (video above). Yes, I have seen the social media tsunami linked to "The Shot" last night to send that playoff game against New Orleans into overtime.

The press coverage of young master Curry is ramping up and, at some point, the mainstream news scribes are going to have to talk about his Christian faith. If you know the history of Curry and his NBA elite family, you know that this will at some point lead to his shoes and things written on his shoes. Think of it as the sequel to the black paint First Amendment Zones underneath Tim Tebow's eyes.

As a public-service announcement for journalists, I would like to flash back to some earlier GetReligion commentary about the press commentary about the biblical commentary on Curry's shoes -- starting when he was in college at Davidson. Does anyone remember this? A reporter wrote:

On the red trim at the bottom of his shoes, Stephen Curry has written in black marker, “I can do all things.”
Yes, yes he can. And because of him, Davidson is marching on.

Ah, but should that have been "Him" instead of "him"?

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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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The Daily Mail talks to Memories Pizza folks, but fails to nail down one crucial angle

The Daily Mail talks to Memories Pizza folks, but fails to nail down one crucial angle

After all the ink that was spilled on the Memories Pizza story -- including when the famous and/or infamous GoFundMe campaign hit pay dirt -- I was curious to know how much attention the mainstream press would continue to pay to this angle in the Indiana culture wars. How about you?

Surf around in this Google News search and you discover that, after the death threats died down, the press lost interest. But I was still curious and, in this social media age, I kept following the rumors. Did you know that some on the cultural left actually argued that the entire media firestorm was intentional and part of a clever plot by the Memories Pizza family to become martyrs and, thus, cash in?

Anyway, I was happy when a few friends on social media -- think Rod "friend of this blog" Dreher, and others -- pointed me toward an actual news report on this "What happened next?" topic. Believe it or not, it was The Daily Mail in England that convinced owner owner Kevin O’Connor and his media-battered daughter Crystal to come out of hiding and talk. This on-the scene report ran back on April 7, so I'm rather surprised more people haven't chased the story -- especially the angle of what these small-town folks plan to do with the money. Here's the top:

The pizza parlor owners who received death threats and were subjected to an online hate campaign will reopen for business tomorrow with the backing of $842,000 from well wishers and a defiant message that they stand by their opposition to gay weddings. They were going to open today but were advised to hold off for security reasons.
In an exclusive first interview inside Memories Pizza restaurant since it closed down last week, owner Kevin O’Connor and daughter Crystal emerged from hiding and told Daily Mail Online they had been heartened by the support of 29,000 people who donated and many more who wrote to them.

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Strikeout! Faith angle missing in story on suspended Orioles slugger Chris Davis' 'hope for redemption'

Strikeout! Faith angle missing in story on suspended Orioles slugger Chris Davis' 'hope for redemption'
The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball.
America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.
This field, this game, it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again.
Ohhhhh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.
— James Earl Jones (“Field of Dreams,” 1989)

Baseball is back!

Last night, my beloved Texas Rangers said "Hello, win column!" for the first time in 2015. Meanwhile, tmatt's Baltimore Orioles improved to 2-0 in the young season.

Speaking of the Orioles, slugger Chris Davis (a former Ranger) is about to return after a suspension that shocked fans, his teammates and the entire baseball world.

The Baltimore Sun opens its in-depth story on Davis' comeback this way:

The Orioles slugger had been holed up in his home for the better part of two days after news broke Sept. 12 that his season was over. Chris Davis had taken the attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder drug Adderall without a therapeutic-use exemption.
Davis' wife, Jill, needed something from Target that Saturday evening, and Davis volunteered to go, just to get out of the house. But he wasn't prepared for the drive through downtown Baltimore, where an Orioles game recently had ended. The air was cool and crisp, and as Davis looked around, he yearned for postseason baseball.
"I felt like everybody that was at the game was out walking on the streets. They were wearing all kinds of Orioles jerseys, Orioles shirts. People were flying Orioles flags out of their apartments. Dogs were wearing Orioles [gear]. You could really tell how excited the city was about us," Davis said. "That's kind of when it all hit me. I told Jill after that Saturday night, after I came back home, I thought: 'I don't know if I'm ever going to get over this.'"
Why?
In late March, Davis sat down with The Baltimore Sun for a candid, hourlong interview about his mindset and hope for redemption. There were some new revelations, or at least clarifications, regarding his 25-game suspension, which doesn't expire until he sits out one more regular-season game.

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ESPN probes Jeremy Lin's 'inner life,' while paying little or no attention to his soul

ESPN probes Jeremy Lin's 'inner life,' while paying little or no attention to his soul

I think it's time for a short break from the Indiana wars, at least for a day. So what do you remember about "Linsanity"?

I am referring, of course, to those crazy weeks in 2012 when an unheralded point guard from Harvard University took over professional basketball, which is the kind of thing that can happen when you start playing out of your mind in Madison Square Garden wearing a Knicks jersey.

Jeremy Lin also received attention here at GetReligion because of the role that his Christian faith played in his life. Two headlines capture the tone  -- Sarah Pulliam Bailey's "Jeremy Lin, the Knick's Tim Tebow?" and a piece that I wrote, looking ahead, called "So, is Jeremy Lin a good fit in New York City?" One quote from the New York Times coverage says it all:

If Lin’s storybook week captured the imagination of New York City and the wider sports world, it hit the community of Christian Asian-Americans like a lightning bolt.

You get the picture. The world is not full of over-achieving evangelical Christians from Harvard who are also Asian-Americans and play point guard in New York City. So what happened? First he was traded to a city where, to be blunt about it, he was not as unusual -- playing for the Houston Rockets. But then he was shipped to one of the darkest black holes in the current NBA universe, the rebuilding with little to build with Los Angeles Lakers.

This brings us to the current ESPN: The Magazine feature on Lin, that ran under the massive double-decker headline: "Isolation Play -- It isn't Kobe's taunts or humiliating viral videos that have made this the toughest year of Jeremy Lin's life. It's the feeling that, as hard as he tries, he just doesn't fit in."

So while examining this young man's dark night of the soul, want to guess which part of the Lin story ESPN all but ignored?

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No thanks for the Memories story: Journalism basics at stake in Indiana pizza war

No thanks for the Memories story: Journalism basics at stake in Indiana pizza war

As the Indiana firestorm continues, we are seeing some evidence that news organizations are beginning to weigh some of the fine details.

Maybe. The key is recognizing the tensions between legal efforts to defend gays and lesbians from open discrimination and those attempting to establish rare, tightly defined freedom of conscience rights to protect orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims and others whose beliefs, and those long advocated by their faiths, conflict with same-sex marriage. Once again, it's crucial for journalists to accurately quote leaders on both sides of this debate, as well as the traditional First Amendment liberals who are caught in the middle.

This short piece in Time -- yes, it's about Memories Pizza -- is a perfect example of what is going on. Read carefully.

An Indiana pizzeria remained closed on Wednesday, embroiled in a national debate after its owners said they would not cater gay weddings because of their religious beliefs.
“I don’t know if we will reopen, or if we can, if it’s safe to reopen,” co-owner Crystal O’Connor told TheBlaze TV. “We’re in hiding basically, staying in the house.”
The Walkerton, Ind., pizza parlor is the first business since Indiana passed the highly controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act to publicly cite religious beliefs as justification to refuse a service to the LGBT community.

The crucial word, the tiny sign of progress, is the word "a" in the phrase "justification to refuse a service to the LGBT community."

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CNN's Daniel Burke survived a GetReligion interview, but will his 'Friendly Atheists' story endure our critique?

CNN's Daniel Burke survived a GetReligion interview, but will his 'Friendly Atheists' story endure our critique?

That there title is what is known as clickbait.

I know you people: You fancy a nice train wreck. You crave a good, no-holds-barred professional wrestling match. You love GetReligion the most when we're whacking some incompetent "journalist" (hey, how do you like those scare quotes, media person!?) over the head with a 2-by-4.

Sadly, today I come to praise CNN Religion Editor Daniel Burke, not to bury him. 

And I knew you wouldn't dare click if I said something vanilla like "CNN produces a really nice piece of religion journalism." (Yawn.)

Come to think of it, Burke didn't really write about religion, did he? If you read my 5Q+1 interview with him the other day, you know that he produced a 10,000-plus-word opus on atheists.

Hmmmm, "Religion editor can't find religion to write about." Maybe that's my angle.

I kid. I kid.

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Was King Richard III a 'bad guy' and does that have anything to do with the church?

Was King Richard III a 'bad guy' and does that have anything to do with the church?

The headline on this particular "WorldViews" feature in The Washington Post was crisp and to the point: "Was King Richard III a bad guy?" The problem, of course, is that there are at least three different ways to read those final two words.

Are we asking if he was a "bad guy," in the sense of playing the role of the villain in a mystery play? Or are we asking if he was simply "bad" in the sense that he wasn't good at what he did. Was he a bad, as in ineffective, king? Or maybe -- since much of the historical curiosity about Richard III is linked to his faith, his alleged deeds and his dynasty -- is the question whether or not he was "bad," in terms of being a sinner?

Here's the overture of the piece (sorry to be getting to this after the event itself):

The remains of England's King Richard III, who died in battle more than five centuries ago, will be re-interred ... at Leicester Cathedral. The planned burial has dominated headlines in Britain, where the fate of the late monarch's bones has been a source of national fascination since they were dug up in a Leicester parking lot in 2012 and identified using DNA testing a year later.
Richard III was slain in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth Field, a moment immortalized by Shakespeare. In Richard III, the cornered king senses his own doom. "I have set my life upon a cast,/ And I will stand the hazard of the die," he intones, and then famously cries out: "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse." But Richard never escaped on a trusted steed and was, instead, cut down by the soldiers of his rival, Henry Tudor, whose descendants would be Shakespeare's royal patrons.

Now, this piece has plenty of "Game of Thrones" style details in it. That's OK. What I was surprised to see was that it contained absolutely nothing about Richard III being a Catholic, in this era right before the Reformation changed the destiny of the Church of England.

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