Many readers have sent in this Daily Mail (UK) story about a minor journalistic incident yesterday:
Sky New presenter Kay Burley was forced to make an on-air apology after mistaking a Roman Catholic symbol on American vice president Joe Biden's forehead for a 'large bruise'.
Miss Burley, 49, made the comments yesterday during a conversation with the news channel's US correspondent, Greg Milam.
When made aware of her ignorance during a commercial break, Miss Burley then compounded her insulting words by saying: 'I've said three Hail Marys, everything is going to be fine.'
The rest of the story catalogues some of Burley's other gaffes. But it also includes a nice description of what the cross of ashes on the forehead signifies and how Christians treat it. And it includes some information about how many Catholics and other liturgical Christians exist in the world.
Not being aware of Ash Wednesday is not the world's biggest problem, but it reminds me of my first year at one newspaper where many folks informed the wearers of ashes that they had dirt on their foreheads. And out of hundreds of people in the building, only a very small handful were the type to even attend Ash Wednesday services.
You see, it's hard to cover religion well when you're not terribly familiar with even the most common religious views and practices. It's a great example of the need for religious diversity in newsrooms.
And it also reminds me of Ted Turner, who one Ash Wednesday saw CNN employees wearing ashes on their forehead and said, "What are you, a bunch of Jesus freaks? You ought to be working for Fox."
Here's a good Rod Dreher profile of Ted Turner's religious views that ran a few years after that famous event.