I hope I don't get anyone in trouble by saying this. But I would like to give a shoutout to reporter Michelle Boorstein of The Washington Post for her coverage of local, regional, national and global Anglican wars that are taking place in a Northern Virginia courtroom right now. At stake are millions of dollars in real estate, the pride of national church establishment and, perhaps, the issue of whether traditionalist Anglicans in some other parts of the nation are able to leave the liberal Episcopal Church while retaining control of their buildings, property and other assets.
Now, you can't read GetReligion for long without knowing that we think the accurate use of language is really, really, really, really, really, really, really important when covering the various levels of combat in this war. This is more than an American conflict about homosexuality. Things are much more complex than that.
So pay close attention to the territory that Boorstein covers in these paragraphs near the top of this hard-news story last week:
The trial comes almost a year after the majority of congregants in 15 traditional Episcopal churches voted to leave the national church because of disagreements about the nature of God and salvation and about whether gay men and lesbians should be fully accepted. Northern Virginia has since become one of the most active areas in the country for the conservative, breakaway movement, and clergy around the country are watching this trial to see what happens to Episcopalians who want to leave -- and take church properties with them.
The land issue is a manifestation of a larger debate within the Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch. Traditional Anglicans are frustrated with decades of what they see as watered-down Christianity, and the dispute threatens to split the Communion.
Although traditionalists are a minority in the United States -- members of the 15 Virginia breakaway churches represent about 7 percent of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia -- they dominate in large swaths of the developing world, including in Africa and Asia.
Bravo. There are phrases there to get under the skin of people on both sides, but I think that few people who care about journalism would find many shots that miss the mark. The keys to this passage are (a) that the battle is described as being about much more than sexuality and (b) that it is very clear that conflict is taking place on several different levels in a global Communion. There is even a hint of the relative sizes of the different bodies, in comparison with each other.
That's it. That's what it takes to throw some accurate ink at this complex, complex story.
Now, I know that we have readers involved in the warfare on both the left and right sides of the Anglican/Episcopal aisle. What complaints do you have about this language in the Post? What changes would you propose -- just in what is covered here?