Cleveland

Rubio and the atheist: For the best coverage, look to the media inside Iowa

Rubio and the atheist: For the best coverage, look to the media inside Iowa

It's starting to look like local media do better reporting on religion and politics -- i.e., less pejorative, viewpoint-tainted reporting -- than national outlets.

Case in point: Marco Rubio's exchange with an atheist in Iowa. From what I saw, the farther from Iowa, the more breezy and/or sarcastic the story -- and the harder to tell it from commentary.  Consider first the Des Moines Register:

Forgive me for the six-paragraph string here at the start, but the story is almost a perfect model for writing what you see and hear, not what you think of it. This is essential reading:

WAVERLY, Ia. -- Confronted by an "activist atheist," Marco Rubio said he’ll champion a country where "no one is forced to violate their conscience."
"No one is going to force you to believe in God, but no one is going to force me to stop talking about God," said the Florida senator, prompting applause and a whistle of support from the crowd.
During a town hall on Monday morning, Justin Scott, 34, of Waterloo asked about Rubio’s new ad, explaining that atheists such as him are "looking for somebody that will uphold their rights as Americans, and not pander to a certain religious group," he said.
In the commercial, Rubio does not mention specific political policy but discusses how "our goal is eternity, the ability to live alongside our creator for all time. To accept the free gift of salvation offered by Jesus Christ."
"You have a right to believe whatever you want," said Rubio, a Roman Catholic, in response. "You have a right to believe in nothing at all."
Rubio went on to explain how his faith has been the "single greatest influence in my life, and from that I’ll never hide."

Nor is it a mere puff piece.

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Gay Games and the Godbeat: a religion writer explores the treatment of gays

Gay Games and the Godbeat: a religion writer explores the treatment of gays

When I saw this headline, I wondered what to expect:

Gay Games inspire some faith leaders to call for a re-examination of treatment of gays

A story quoting all liberal believers with progressive views on homosexuality would not have surprised me. As regular GetReligion readers can attest, that's the nature of much reporting on this issue these days.

Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by the fair, balanced nature of the Akron Beacon Journal story — that is, until I realized the piece was written by a Godbeat pro (almost always a plus, for reasons that tmatt highlighted this week).

Religion writer Colette M. Jenkins' report does an excellent job of incorporating faith leaders of differing beliefs and letting them explain their position in their own words:

The upcoming Gay Games 9 are generating an interesting response in corners of the Christian community where homosexuality is considered to be unbiblical.
Leaders in that pocket of the faith community are pondering ways to embrace the games’ LGBT participants without coming off as hateful because of their disagreement with the gay lifestyle.
Some have discussed the possibility of volunteering for the games or showing hospitality for participants, but decided against it to avoid sending mixed messages.
Others — like Sister Rita Mary Harwood, who heads the Gay and Lesbian Family Ministry in the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland and the Rev. Joe Coffey, lead pastor at Christ Community Chapel in Hudson — are all in, planning outreach to the games’ LGBT participants.

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Death penalty in Cleveland horrors? Wait, who died?

Once again, let’s turn to the dictionary and that tricky word “fetus,” which has through the decades been at the heart of so many bitter newsroom arguments about abortion, morality, religion, science and law.

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