Apocalypse when? The Deseret News muddles details on some complicated theology

Apocalypse when? The Deseret News muddles details on some complicated theology

When The Atlantic came out with "What ISIS Really Wants," its classic piece on Islamic apocalyptic thought, in March 2015, it got a lot of press because of its clear-eyed insistence that the role of Islamic doctrine and history could not be ignored, when describing the radical faith preached by ISIS.

Remember, it's only been two years since ISIS declared a revived Islamic caliphate on June 29, 2014.

Maybe that's the reason why the Deseret News is writing about the end of the world in a recent story that links the two religions that have detailed Last Day narratives: Christianity and Islam.

The likeness ends there. Versions of the end of time are radically different among the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. But you might not know that from the following article: 

The world didn't end during the early years of the Christian community, despite the apostle Paul's imminent predictions.
It didn't end in 1914, although WWI gave people quite a scare. It also didn't end on May 21, 2011, to the chagrin of popular evangelist and radio broadcaster Harold Camping, who predicted the date of the apocalypse several times during his career.
Apocalyptic teachings, including the idea that God intends for the world as we know it to cease to exist, have been part of both Christianity and Islam since their beginnings. In the U.S., around 1 in 5 adults say the apocalypse will happen in their lifetime, a figure that's stayed relatively constant over the past century.

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'Scare quotes' are back in the PR-esque coverage of Mississippi religious liberty bill

'Scare quotes' are back in the PR-esque coverage of Mississippi religious liberty bill

The "scare quotes" are back.

Once again we face a familiar journalistic question: Is it possible to do news coverage of religious liberty debates linked to gay-rights issues in a way that accurately represents views on both sides and even -- imagine this -- quotes informed, qualified experts on both sides?

Also, flashing back to my Kentucky post from the other day, is the goal of these legal debates to promote the rights of gay couples who seek marriage licenses (and other services) or to punish traditional Christians, Jews, Muslims and others who believe that it would violate their consciences to be involved in same-sex union events?

With that in mind, let's walk carefully through the top of this recent USA Today network story about recent events in Mississippi.

JACKSON, Miss. -- U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves issued ... a permanent injunction barring Mississippi from denying same-sex marriage licenses, meaning no circuit clerk or staff member clerk can deny a gay couple a marriage license even if the state's "religious freedom" bill is in effect.

OK, so right now the state of Mississippi is preventing gay couples from obtaining marriage licenses. Did I read that correctly?

But the second half of the sentence addresses something completely different -- which is a bill to protect the First Amendment rights of individual clerks and staff members. Note the statement that "NO circuit clerk" can deny a license.

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It's the (oh, no, not again) art of Trump’s deal with many old-guard evangelicals

It's the (oh, no, not again) art of Trump’s deal with many old-guard evangelicals

From the You Can’t Make This Up Department: During Donald Trump’s summit with nearly 1,000 evangelicals (GetReligion podcast here), Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. proudly tweeted out a photo of himself and wife Becki greeting the man who would be president.

Seen on the wall behind them was a framed Playboy magazine photo of Trump alongside a nubile Playmate.

Online liberal satirist Sarah Wood noted the Playmate is currently in prison for drug smuggling, and wondered why Falwell was “honored” to associate with “a thrice-married man who has more than insinuated that he wants to date his daughter, is currently racist, made money off screwing people over, and has posed for Playboy. Praise Jesus!”

Less derisively, Professor Tobin Grant, a Religion News Service columnist, quoted Trump’s new friends who not long ago warned he “can’t be trusted,” needs to “repent,” is “embarrassing,” a “scam,” and a“misogynist and philanderer” laden with “untruthfulness.” 

A second Grant piece listed words Trump never uttered during the 90-minute encounter: that would be Jesus, Christ, Bible, prayer, faith. “God” was mentioned once, however.

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The Supreme Court and pharmacists: CNN shines while Washington state newspapers punt

The Supreme Court and pharmacists: CNN shines while Washington state newspapers punt

Although I just moved to Washington state a year ago, I was unaware it is the only state in the country that mandates pharmacists to supply medicines they are opposed to on religious grounds. All other states have some sort of right of refusal for pharmacists.

Then along came Stormans Inc. v. Wiesman, a case involving an Olympia, Wash.-based pharmacy that objected to a state law mandating it sell certain forms of emergency contraception. The Tacoma News Tribune describes the background here.

Here is what CNN wrote about the latest Supreme Court action on this case:

Washington (CNN) -- Over the dissent of three conservative justices who expressed concern for the future of religious liberty claims, the Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to take up a case brought by the owner of a pharmacy and two pharmacists who objected to delivering emergency contraceptives such as Plan B.
The plaintiffs in the case, the Stormans family, sought to challenge Washington State regulation mandating that a pharmacy may not "refuse to deliver a drug or device to a patient because its owner objects to delivery on religious, moral or other personal grounds."
The Stormans are devout Christians and own a pharmacy in Olympia, Washington.
A federal appeals court held that the Washington regulations did not violate the First Amendment.

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The press missed this detail? Pat Summitt took a very timely walk into the waters of baptism

The press missed this detail? Pat Summitt took a very timely walk into the waters of baptism

During the 20-plus years that I taught a basic journalism class, I asked my students what I thought was a simple question during my lecture on strategies in beat reporting, including sports. The goal was to get them to think about the impact of one of the high commandments of the news business: All news is local.

In other words, you don't just cover news stories. You strive to cover stories with unique hooks into the lives and interests of your own, local readers. Thus, I would ask: If you were a reporter who wanted to specialize in covering women's basketball, where would you rather work -- Atlanta (or some other big market) or Knoxville, Tenn.?

For decades the answer was obvious. You needed to work in Knoxville, because of two words -- Pat Summitt.

As you would imagine, the media here in East Tennessee have been offering wall-to-wall coverage in the wake of the Tuesday morning death of the 64-year-old Summitt, who many consider the greatest basketball coach of all time, male or female. At the very least, the czarina of the Lady Vols was to the women's game what the great John Wooden of UCLA was to men's college hoops. Truth is, Summitt changed the whole world of women's sports.

I thought I knew quite a bit about Summitt and the challenges of her amazing life. Then a saw the tribute story at Baptist Press. Yes, Baptist Press.

It included a timely detail from her life that I had not seen in the local and national coverage. It's especially stunning that this detail -- yes, it's a religion ghost -- was not included in Knoxville coverage.

All news is local, you know, and just a few years ago Knoxville was named No. 1 in a poll of "Bible-minded cities" in the United States (and it's currently No. 11).

The key passage, starting with a quote just before she died:

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Istanbul's LGBTQ community: Dealing with 'conservative attitudes' or DNA of Islamic law?

Istanbul's LGBTQ community: Dealing with 'conservative attitudes' or DNA of Islamic law?

If you are reading a newspaper in India and you see a reference to "community violence," or perhaps "communal violence," do you know how to break that code?

As I have mentioned before, a young Muslim journalist explained that term to me during a forum in Bangalore soon after the release of the book "Blind Spot: When Journalists Don't Get Religion."

Whenever there are violent clashes between religious groups, especially between Hindus and Muslims, journalists leave out all of the religious details and simply report that authorities are dealing with another outbreak of "community violence." Readers know how to break the code.

As the student told me, if journalists write accurate, honest stories about some religious subjects in the nation's newspapers, then "more people are going to die."

I thought of that again reading the top of a recent Washington Post story about the tensions in Istanbul between civil authorities and the LGBT community in modern Istanbul, symbolized by confrontations during gay pride parades. Please consider this a post adding additional information to the complex religious issues that our own Bobby Ross, Jr., described in his post about terrorist attacks -- almost certainly by ISIS -- at the always busy Ataturk International Airport in that city.

Here is the overture for that earlier Post report:

ISTANBUL -- It was just after sunset when patrons began to arrive, climbing a dark stairwell to the bar’s modest entrance. Here, in dimly lit corners, is where the mostly gay clientele come to canoodle and drink -- but without the threat of violence or harassment.

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That religious freedom law in Mississippi: Newspapers struggle to clarify basic issues

That religious freedom law in Mississippi: Newspapers struggle to clarify basic issues

Of all the stories I've seen on Mississippi's new religious freedom law, the one in the Jackson Free Press is one of the few that remembers what the debate is really about: the First Amendment. Specifically, the Establishment Claus versus the Free Exercise Clause.

Not that the newspaper delivers totally on its promise to cover all bases. It stumbles and wanders and omits in places.  Here are the first two paragraphs:

JACKSON -- "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...." How those words affect the language in House Bill 1523 could lead to a historic Establishment Clause ruling this week when U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves decides whether or not to issue a preliminary injunction to keep HB 1523 from becoming law on July 1.
Pastors, priests, advocates and other Mississippians named as plaintiffs in two lawsuits that challenge the constitutionality of the bill claim that it advances a certain religious view, discriminates by favoring three particular beliefs and favors religion over non-religion, specifically targeting LGBT citizens.

It's a tantalizing start for anyone who still cares about religious rights, and how far the law should protect them.  In a time when people can be fined and shamed for not photographing a wedding or not decorating a cake for one, legal matters can take a painfully personal tinge. And several states, from Florida to Indiana, have passed various versions of the 1993 federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act to cope.

As the Free Press points out, HB 1523 brings in New York-based attorney Roberta Kaplan, who helped bring down Mississippi's law on same-sex marriage. The two argue that the pending state law "favors three particular religious beliefs over others." Those beliefs are that "marriage should be recognized between one man and one woman, sexual relations are reserved to that marriage and that gender is assigned at birth."

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Concerning the dozens dead in Istanbul: Why religious affiliation of victims matters

Concerning the dozens dead in Istanbul: Why religious affiliation of victims matters

Dozens dead at the Istanbul airport.

Hundreds injured.

Are we even surprised anymore when images of yet another terror attack linked (it seems) to the Islamic State bombard our screens?

There is, as almost always seems to be the case, a huge religion angle on this latest attack (and not the one you might think). But first, the latest lede from The Associated Press:

ISTANBUL (AP) -- Suicide attackers armed with guns and bombs killed 41 people and wounded hundreds at Istanbul's busy Ataturk Airport, apparently targeting Turkey's crucial tourism industry. The government blamed the attack on Islamic State extremists but there was no immediate confirmation from the group.
Scenes of chaos and panic unfolded Tuesday night as gunfire and explosions on two different floors sent crowds fleeing first in one direction, then another.
Airport surveillance video posted on social media appeared to show one explosion, a ball of fire that sent terrified passengers racing for safety. Another appeared to show an attacker, felled by a gunshot from a security officer, blowing himself up seconds later. A growing stream of travelers, some rolling suitcases behind them, fled down a corridor, looking fearfully over their shoulders.
"Four people fell in front of me. They were torn into pieces," said airport worker Hacer Peksen.
The victims included at least 13 foreigners and several people remained unidentified Wednesday. The toll excluded the three bombers. The Istanbul governor's office said more than 230 people were wounded.

As GetReligion readers know, historic details really matter in Instanbul.

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This just in: Lots of Texans oppose abortion. How many are pre-meds and doctors?

This just in: Lots of Texans oppose abortion. How many are pre-meds and doctors?

If you have been following the headlines, you know that the topic of abortion rights in the state of Texas has been in the news. That's what happens when the U.S. Supreme Court gets involved in what is already a hot-button topic.

My goal here is not to cover territory that our own Bobby Ross, Jr., mapped out in his post on the court decision to strike down Texas laws on abortion and clinic safety standards. Click here to catch up on that.

Instead, I want to deal with a related topic covered in a recent National Public Radio report, as in the difficulty that abortion-rights advocates have finding Texans who are willing to be trained to do abortions in the first place. The headline: "Politics Makes Abortion Training In Texas Difficult."

I have no doubt that there are political issues, as well as "political" issues, that make abortion training a touchy subject in the Lone Star state. However, might there be other forces at play in addition to politics?

A mass-communications professor out in GetReligion reader land thinks so, stating:

This article has more holy ghosts than a Jack Chick Halloween comic book. I mean, let's ask the obvious question: could it be that many doctors in Texas believe that abortion is murder? Could that be a major factor? In other words -- it's not just politics that makes doctors shy away from teaching abortion in Texas.

This journalist really needs to answer the clue phone. So does her editor.

As you would expect, this NPR package spends most of its time talking about issues linked to Texas tensions linked to the funding of abortion, as well as issues linked to the safety and privacy of doctors who make their livelihoods terminating pregnancies.

Let me stress that these are issues that simply must be covered.

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