Foreign Policy magazine: Chinese students in the U.S. are converting like crazy

Foreign Policy magazine: Chinese students in the U.S. are converting like crazy

Several years ago while teaching a course at the University of Maryland, I became aware of a group of Chinese Americans who took it on themselves to personally welcome every international Chinese student to the school. They’d do airport pick-ups, get-togethers, parties and field trips. It was a godsend for the new arrivals in more ways than one. First, they instantly had a group of friends that spoke their language.

            Secondly, this group was made up of evangelical Christians whose mission was to see that before these students returned to China four years later, they’d gotten exposure to a Christianity they’d never get to see in their native land. I was dimly aware of similar groups doing similar outreaches on other campuses, but not until I saw a pair of articles from Foreign Policy magazine on foreignpolicy.com, did I realize how wide the evangelistic net is spread.

            The magazine has come up with two very detailed stories of how Chinese students are flooding into private secondary U.S. schools with the full knowledge and blessing of their atheist parents and how the vast amounts of Chinese studying in American universities have turned out to be an enormous mission field for American Christian groups. The first piece starts thus:

            It is no secret that Chinese students are pouring into the United States; over 300,000 of them attended U.S. colleges and universities in 2015 alone, and Chinese are filling up spots in U.S secondary schools in search of a better education and an easier route into U.S. universities. Less widely known is that at the secondary level, most Chinese attend Christian schools — even though they come from the world’s largest atheist state.

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Silence on sex abuse? Nope, 'The Vatican' didn't tell that to its bishops

Silence on sex abuse? Nope, 'The Vatican' didn't tell that to its bishops

It's doubly nice to see a concise, incisive media critique like Bill Donohue of the Catholic League wrote yesterday. Nice to have someone do some of our work on a frantic Friday afternoon. Also nice to remind us at GetReligion that we're not the only ones who notice these things.

Donohue took mainstream media to task for saying the Vatican has told its new bishops they don’t have to report instances of sexual abuse. The flap revolves around remarks of a French monsignor, and whether he was spelling out church policy.

The highly cited Guardian, for instance, reported on this new "Vatican document":

The Catholic church is telling newly appointed bishops that it is “not necessarily” their duty to report accusations of clerical child abuse and that only victims or their families should make the decision to report abuse to police.
A document that spells out how senior clergy members ought to deal with allegations of abuse, which was recently released by the Vatican, emphasised that, though they must be aware of local laws, bishops’ only duty was to address such allegations internally.
“According to the state of civil laws of each country where reporting is obligatory, it is not necessarily the duty of the bishop to report suspects to authorities, the police or state prosecutors in the moment when they are made aware of crimes or sinful deeds,” the training document states.

Things are no different on this shore of the Atlantic.  

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Tragic death of NBA coach's wife Ingrid Williams and a missing element in the news

Tragic death of NBA coach's wife Ingrid Williams and a missing element in the news

That could have been my wife.

Rightly or wrongly, many of us tend to judge tragedy by how close to home it strikes.

For me, that's the case with the death of Ingrid Williams, wife of Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams.

Ingrid Williams was 44, about the same age as my wife. She was driving with her kids — about the same age as mine — on an Oklahoma City street that my family travels often. She was an innocent victim — hit head-on by a vehicle that veered into her lane. She also was a person of strong Christian faith.

In its initial coverage, The Oklahoman reported the news this way:

Ingrid Williams, the wife of Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams died Wednesday from injuries suffered in a multiple-vehicle car crash Tuesday in Oklahoma City.
“The Thunder organization has heavy hearts tonight with the news of Ingrid's passing,” the Thunder said in a statement released Wednesday evening. “Words cannot adequately describe how deep our sorrow is for the loss of Monty's wife.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Monty and his family, and we will support him in every way possible. We know the entire community of Oklahoma City has them in their prayers.”

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Rome meets Russia: Media bury role of persecution in historic summit (# LOL update)

Rome meets Russia: Media bury role of persecution in historic summit (# LOL update)

Did you hear about the historic meeting that will occur today between the media superstar Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Orthodox Church of Moscow and All Russia? Is there up-front coverage of this in your newspaper this morning?

The meeting is taking place in Havana for the expressed purpose of voicing support for persecuted Christians facing genocide in parts of the Middle East, primarily -- at the moment -- in Syria and Iraq. There is very little that Rome and Moscow agree on at the moment, when it comes to ecumenical matters, but Francis and Kirill are both very concerned about the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in that devastated region.

Have you heard about this in major media?

If you are interested, this was the topic of this week's "Crossroads" podcast. Click here to tune that in. I also wrote about the background of this meeting in a previous GetReligion post ("The 'Passion' that looms over the historic Rome-Moscow meeting") and in this week's "On Religion" column for the Universal syndicate.

Now, call me naive, but I thought that this meeting would receive major coverage. This is, after all, the first ever meeting -- first as in it has never happened before in history -- between the leader of the pope of Rome and the patriarch of the world's largest branch of Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

Syria is also in the news, last time I checked. There is a possibility that Americans -- this is a nation that includes a few Christians who read newspapers -- might be interested in a statement by Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill on the massacre of Christians in Syria and elsewhere.

I guess I am naive. It appears that the meeting in Cuba today is not very important at all. I mean, look at the front page of The New York Times website.

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'Kellerism' case on the conservative -- even Chick-fil-A eating -- side of news business?

'Kellerism' case on the conservative -- even Chick-fil-A eating -- side of news business?

Every now and then, I hear from a GetReligion reader who asks a variation on the following question: "How come you never write about cases of Kellerism in conservative media?"

Note that -- if you follow the logic of this statement -- the assumption is that we are constantly writing about examples of Kellerism (click here and here for the roots of this GetReligion term) in "liberal" media.

Actually, our goal here is to write about news coverage in mainstream media. So by definition, "Kellerism" is when mainstream newsrooms publish stories about controversial issues -- almost always about issues of religion, morality or culture -- and do little or nothing to fairly and accurately represent the views of one side in the debate, which the editors have clearly decided in advance is wrong.

Thus, you can't have Kellerism in an op-ed column, an editorial essay or a story in an advocacy publication like The New Republic, Rolling Stone or at MSNBC.com (unless they run an Associated Press report, or similar material). The same thing is true on the political and cultural right. When I ask upset readers to send me URLs for their "conservative" Kellerism nominees, they always send me commentary items from Fox News, National Review, the op-ed pages at The Washington Times or similar locations.

I tell them the same thing I tell conservative readers who are complaining about "bias" in editorials on the left: Commentary writers and scribes in advocacy newsrooms are PAID to openly slant their coverage. This is why their organizations exist.

However, the other day I saw a mainstream Associated Press story (origins at The Daily News in Murfreesboro, Tenn.) that covered what I am sure would have been a controversial event for many readers in America. It's safe to say that some readers considered this story offensive, especially since it took place in a Chick-fil-A restaurant.

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'Mainline' blues: A veteran on religion beat gives an old church trend fresh legs

'Mainline' blues: A veteran on religion beat gives an old church trend fresh legs

How many stories have been written on the important demographic slide across the decades among America’s moderate-to-liberal Protestant churches, the "Seven Sisters" of the old mainline?

Such pieces typically report the latest membership totals and such. But newswriters should always seek new ways to freshen up old themes, and colleague David Briggs provides an example of just how to do that.

In case anyone doesn’t know the name, Briggs was the Religion Guy’s predecessor as an Associated Press religion writer, also covered the beat for the Buffalo News and Cleveland Plain Dealer, and has been president of the Religion Newswriters Association. He now edits the “Ahead of the Trend” blog for the Association of Religion Data Archives, an organization housed at Penn State that religion journalists are --  or should be -- well aware of.

By the way, the ARDA boasts that Briggs is considered “among the Top 10 secular religion writers and reporters in North America,” which sounds right. Who’d be on your own list? Leave me some notes in the comments pages.

Here’s the old-school Briggs formula: Pull together telling data that haven’t gotten much coverage, interview some of the usual suspects on the implications and then propose a strong conclusion about mainline woe: “Not only is there no end in sight, but there are few signs of hope for revival in rapidly aging, shrinking groups.”

These churches won’t disappear, we’re told, but their decline will not bottom out, much less turn around.

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Crisis pregnancy wars: No one, including the New York Times, asks some obvious questions

Crisis pregnancy wars: No one, including the New York Times, asks some obvious questions

Six years ago, when I was still writing for the Washington Times, I heard that the city of Baltimore was compelling crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to post notices saying they don’t do referrals for abortion or birth control services.

This struck me as a bit odd, in that how many businesses must post notices saying what they do not offer? I couldn’t think of any.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore, which operated some of those CPCs, sued the city and eventually won. I covered that debate and a similar law that was floated in Montgomery County, Md., just outside of Washington DC. The latter was also struck down in court. Similar efforts were mounted in Austin, Texas and in New York, but both also lost in court.

Which is why I was surprised that the same law was being proposed in California. Here is what the New York Times said:

EL CAJON, Calif. -- “Free Pregnancy Testing,” reads the large sign in front of the East County Pregnancy Care Clinic, on a busy intersection of this impoverished city east of San Diego.
Inside the clinic, a woman will not only receive a free pregnancy test, but she will also see a counselor to discuss her options. She will see models of fetuses at early stages of development, which show that “at Week 12, you see a recognizable human,” said Josh McClure, the executive director of the clinic. If she is pregnant, she can receive a free ultrasound and attend childbirth classes. If she gives birth, she may receive help with diapers and a car seat.
What she will not receive from this center is advice on where to obtain an abortion.

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The New York Times asks: Is that historic Bernie Sanders win 'good for the Jews?'

The New York Times asks: Is that historic Bernie Sanders win 'good for the Jews?'

I guess this really is the year of the outsider -- even the Jewish outsider.

Take a look, if you will, at the following New York Times piece about the historic New Hampshire Primary win by Sen. Bernie Sanders. We're talking about the sidebar that ran under this headline: "As Bernie Sanders Makes History, Jews Wonder What It Means."

I realize that this piece is little more than a round-up of clips from Jewish newspapers and commentary publications. The goal, apparently, was to raise topics, one paragraph after another, that Jewish thinkers are talking about (with little new reporting).

If that was the goal, it is amazing what is NOT in this piece. Here is a sample, including the question-mark lede:

But is it good for the Jews?
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont ... became the first Jewish candidate in history to win a presidential primary election, setting off a familiar mixture of celebration and anxiety among Jews in the United States and abroad, who pondered what his milestone victory meant for the broader Jewish community.
“Did Bernie Sanders Just Grab Jewish Crown In New Hampshire?” asked a headline in the The Forward, which questioned why Mr. Sanders’ victory received less attention as an emblem of acceptance and accomplishment than the selection of Joseph I. Lieberman as the Democrats’ vice-presidential nominee in 2000.
The likely reason: While Mr. Sanders was raised Jewish and even spent time on an Israeli kibbutz in the 1960s, he has been muted in his own embrace of the faith.

His own embrace of the "faith"? Or are we talking about a matter of heritage and culture?

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Times Journey into Iran: Business-side embarrassment or news conflict of interest?

Times Journey into Iran: Business-side embarrassment or news conflict of interest?

Intimidation works. In fact, it works quite well, and it appears not to matter whether the intended target is a nation, a kid in the schoolyard or a media outlet.

Witness Iran and the case of Washington Post Tehran correspondent Jason Rezaian, recently freed after being held by the Iranian government for 18 months.

Martin Baron, the Post editor, says the newspaper will not station another reporter in Iran until the Islamic republic assures the newspaper that any reporter it sends to Tehran will be allowed to function free of government intimidation.

A cautionary word of advice to Marty: Don't hold your breathe.

So not only did Iran get to hold Rezaian as a bargaining chip during the recent nuclear sanctions negotiations, it also rid itself of one more Western journalistic thorn in its side, that being the Post.

As I said, intimidation works quite well. Journalists working in Russia, Mexico, China, Turkey, Egypt, Cuba, Ethiopia, Burundi and a host of other nations know this all too well. It doesn't matter whether the intimidators are government officials or narco criminals.

But here's a question. Is there a moral conflict of interest issue when the business side of a news outlet chooses to cooperate for financial gain with a government that intimidates journalists, both its own citizens and foreign correspondents?

Specifically, I'm referring to those New York Times operated tours to Iran.

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