For journalists, grammar is always important: Episcopal vs. Episcopalian in Breitbart

I am a great fan of the Breitbart website. It is a fresh and vibrant addition to the stable of online news portals.

Also, Breitbart London is one of my daily reads, and I am a fan of the site's editor James Delingpole -- one of the sharpest minds with one of the sharpest pens writing today.

The brand has grown in recent years, branching out from its base of political and media reporting. Over the past year it has made a strong showing in religion reporting and commentary. Delingpole’s Dec. 30 opinion piece entitled “Pope embraces the Green Religion” is wicked (and fun).

However, the venture into religion reporting does produce the occasional misstep. A piece entitled “Maryland Diocese admits female bishop ran over and killed cyclist” makes some beginner's mistakes in its report on Bishop Heather Cook (pictured).

On Dec. 27, Cook hit and killed a cyclist while driving her car in Baltimore. The news of the accident was made public the next day when the Bishop of Maryland, the Rt. Rev. Eugene Sutton, wrote to his clergy announcing the sad news. The religious press and Baltimore news outlets picked up the story shortly after the bishop’s email went out, and, interestingly enough, the first non-local, secular newspaper to splash the story was London’s Daily Mail.

The story has proven to have legs, and within the church world it is likely to generate many more stories. Some of the angles that will be reported in the coming days are:

* Was Bishop Cook texting or using her cellphone when the accident took place? Was her distraction linked to church business? If so, will that open the floodgates for a multi-million dollar wrongful death suit against the diocese?

* The Bishop of Maryland, Eugene Sutton, is touted as being the favorite for election as the next head of the Episcopal Church this July. Will this sink his candidacy, or will his response to the accident propel him into office?

* The Daily Mail was the first outlet to break the additional news that Bishop Cook had a DUI arrest in 2010. This news was not made public when she stood for election earlier this year as suffragan bishop. Why was this information hidden from the Diocese of Maryland?

All this is inside baseball for religion-news afficionados, I admit. For the secular press, the angle is the hypocrisy of a bishop leaving the scene of a fatal road accident -- only to return 20 to 45 minutes later.

Continue reading "Episcopal vs. Episcopalian in Breitbart" by George Conger.

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