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?

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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Musing about Brexit lessons in the literal birthplace of the Spanish Inquisition

Musing about Brexit lessons in the literal birthplace of the Spanish Inquisition

As the repercussions from the momentous Brexit vote play out, I find myself in the charming and more than 1,000-year-old  hillside village of Sos del Rey Catolico in northeast Spain. Ferdinand III of Aragon, who with his wife Queen Isabella I, launched Cristobal Colon on his voyage to the New World -- and the start of the destruction of the indigenous tribes of the Americas -- was born here.

The royal couple also threw the Jews out of Spain and can lay claim to the Spanish Inquisition. Pretty accomplished, weren't they?

A day earlier I was in Madrid. When I arrived, a large banner hung from Madrid's City Hall, proclaiming in English, "Refugees Welcome." The following day, Spain held parliamentary elections in which gains by the conservative establishment made for banner headlines.

And the day after that, the "Refugees Welcome" banner was gone.

Was it a coincidence? A political decision? For all I know the banner lacked official approval in the first place.

But between the banner and my stay in Sos del Rey Catolico -- which, of course has its ancient and now Judenrein Jewish quarter that persists as a tourist site -- it all feels hopelessly tribal.

I've written here before that journalists need to understand that globalization has been and is about far more than cheaper products. That its about people -- people moved by dreams and a desire, perhaps "need" is a better word -- to be the consumers of those products and no longer only the producers. If they were lucky enough to have a job, that is.

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Here we go again: California, courts, abortion, Catholics, colleges, covenants, religious liberty

Here we go again: California, courts, abortion, Catholics, colleges, covenants, religious liberty

Did you think you’ve heard enough about religious employers, the federal government, the Little Sisters of the Poor and so on to last a lifetime?

Buckle up, because a new battle has begun.

It’s based in California, which is becoming the new Ground Zero on abortion. There, the issue isn’t federal laws, as has been the case previously.

It all began when some faculty at two Catholic institutions in southern California wanted health care plans that included abortion coverage. Here, we’re dealing with state laws; in fact, 50 sets of them. As Bloomberg explains:

... State laws on abortion coverage are governed by a different legal regime than federally mandated contraceptive care. The 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act bars Washington from imposing a "substantial burden" on most religious practice and was at stake in the 2014 Hobby Lobby case as well as the Little Sisters case. But it doesn’t apply to the states.  

That’s the crux right there. All the lawsuits we’ve been hearing about for the past few years (Little Sisters, Hobby Lobby) had to do with the feds. That national angle is just one layer of the wider story.

I’m going to include a few paragraphs from the beginning of a Los Angeles Times story to bring you up to date:

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Compassion vs. conversion: surprising insight on why these evangelicals welcome refugees

Compassion vs. conversion: surprising insight on why these evangelicals welcome refugees

I traveled to the Toronto area earlier this year to write about two Canadian churches that partnered to adopt a family of Syrian refugees:

BEAMSVILLE, Ontario — As war ravaged their homeland, a Syrian family of eight fled for their lives.
The Muslim father, mother and six children — among 4 million Syrians who have escaped to neighboring countries — ended up in a refugee camp in Lebanon.

There, they lived in a barn for four years.
Conditions became so dire that the family — including a daughter with cerebral palsy — contemplated returning home, despite the 5-year-old civil war that has claimed an estimated 470,000 lives.

“Inhumane” is the single word that an Arabic interpreter used to translate the Syrians’ lengthy description of the camp.

Enter two Churches of Christ south of Toronto — their hearts touched by the plight of strangers abroad and resolved to show the love of Jesus to a suffering family.

In reporting that story for The Christian Chronicle, I was interested in the "delicate balance between serving and evangelizing," as national reporter Adelle Banks characterizes the dichotomy in a new feature for Religion News Service (more on her excellent piece in just a moment).

My story quoted church member Marcia Cramp and Noel Walker on that topic:

The church members hope to introduce the family to the Gospel of Jesus.

For now, they’re content to build the relationship slowly and learn more about the Syrians’ own faith.

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Yo, journalists: Kentucky has solved its gay-marriage dilemma and Kim Davis is happy

Yo, journalists: Kentucky has solved its gay-marriage dilemma and Kim Davis is happy

You remember Kim Davis, right? 

Yes, we're still talking about the Rowan County clerk who insisted that her Apostolic Christian beliefs would not allow her to sign -- as required by Kentucky law -- marriage licenses for same-sex couples. If you are drawing a blank, click here and surf around.

At the height of early Kim Davis mania -- when her brief time behind bars was dominating headlines and even evening news shows -- I had an interesting email dialogue with a mainstream news reporter. I was arguing, here at GetReligion, that reporters were ignoring two crucial facts in this story.

Fact 1: From the beginning, Davis and her legal team were open to a compromise that would allow other local and state officials to sign marriage licenses. This would mean removing the slot on the license form requiring the signature of the county clerk.

Fact 2. From the beginning, there were Democrats, as well as Republicans, in the state legislature who backed this compromise -- which would recognize the religious liberty rights of clerks, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

The problem was my use of the positive word "compromise." I was working under what some considered the false impression that a political course of action represented "compromise" if it (a) granted each side their primary goal (same-sex marriage on one side, freedom of religious conscience on the other) and (b) was backed by a broad, centrist coalition of Democrats and Republicans.

My reporter friend's logic was simple: Elite journalists were not going to consider this a "compromise" if Davis was happy with it. Now, what's the implication of that statement?

This brings me to a recent Reuters piece that may, perhaps, wrap up the long, tortured story of Davis and her efforts in support of the free exercise of religious convictions (see the First Amendment). This development has not received much national attention, but I think it's crucial.

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From our 'No comment' department: This is sort of a journalism Marx Brothers joke

From our 'No comment' department: This is sort of a journalism Marx Brothers joke

You cannot make this one up.

I think we have to rank this one right up there in the top ranks of items that we have ever featured under the heading "From our 'No Comment' department."

Let's see if you can spot the error in the top of this Associated Press report, as it ran earlier today. It has since been corrected.

Note that the dateline is from an always-exciting location during the Pope Francis era, when it comes to breaking stories on the Godbeat. Yes, I know there was a post earlier on a story linked to this. Thus, please consider this a quick mini-update on that  post by our own James Davis.

Here goes.

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) -- Pope Francis says gays -- and all the other people the church has marginalized, such as the poor and the exploited -- deserve an apology.
Francis was asked Sunday en route home from Armenia if he agreed with one of his top advisers, German Cardinal Karl Marx, who told a conference in Dublin in the days after the deadly Orlando gay club attack that the church owes an apology to gays for having marginalized them.

Oh my.

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Apologizing to gays: Pope Francis' latest quotes send news media into a frenzy

Apologizing to gays: Pope Francis' latest quotes send news media into a frenzy

So you thought Pope Francis began a storm of news 'n' views three years ago, when he said, "Who am I to judge" gays? Well, brace yourself for the summertime blizzard of news and commentary with his latest remark -- that the church should apologize to gays, women, children, the poor and, apparently, anyone who likes weapons.

It was on another of those in-flight press conferences, like the one in 2013 when he dropped his non-judgmental bomb. Mainstream media love to pounce on Francis' off-the-cuff remarks, but few of them recognize the conversations flowing just under the surface -- even when they occasionally break into the open.

Yesterday, Cindy Wooden of Catholic News Service asked Francis if the church should apologize to gays in the wake of Omar Mateen's shooting spree, killing 49 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando. She was asking because Cardinal Reinhard Marx had said the church had marginalized gays.

The pope answered with, well, an apology spree. Says the Associated Press:

Francis responded with a variation of his famous "Who am I to judge?" comment and a repetition of church teaching that gays must not be discriminated against but treated with respect.
He said some politicized behaviors of the homosexual community can be condemned for being "a bit offensive for others." But he said: "Someone who has this condition, who has good will and is searching for God, who are we to judge?"
"We must accompany them," Francis said.
"I think the church must not only apologize ... to a gay person it offended, but we must apologize to the poor, to women who have been exploited, to children forced into labor, apologize for having blessed so many weapons" and for having failed to accompany families who faced divorces or experienced other problems.

Does this signal the dawn of a "progressive" era in the church? Not according to a particular Dawn -- Catholic scholar and GR alumna Dawn Eden:

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The key to understanding the Supreme Court decision on Texas abortion restrictions

The key to understanding the Supreme Court decision on Texas abortion restrictions

Big news today out of the U.S. Supreme Court: As the Washington Post reports, the court — in a 5-3 decision — struck down Texas abortion restrictions that had caused more than half the state's abortion clinics to close.

As always, abortion is one of those topics that mix politics and religion, no matter how hard people try to keep the topics separate. 

The New York Times notes:

The decision concerned two parts of a Texas law that imposes strict requirements on abortion providers. It was passed by the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature and signed into law in July 2013 by Rick Perry, the governor at the time.
One part of the law requires all clinics in the state to meet the standards for ambulatory surgical centers, including regulations concerning buildings, equipment and staffing. The other requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

How important is this decision? The Daily Beast is pretty excited, calling it "the biggest victory for abortion rights since Roe V. Wade."

Meanwhile, Rod "Friend of this Blog" Dreher of the American Conservative is less enthused (see his new post "Abortion Forever"), but he, too, attaches great significance to the ruling:

The bottom line, it seems to me, is that the Supreme Court will never let any state restriction stand meaningfully in the way of the Sexual Revolution. Ever. No federalism, no democracy, not when it comes to defending the Sexual Revolution.

So what should news consumers look for in the media coverage of this decision?

 

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