Rites and wrongs

Yesterday I looked at a couple of stories covering President Barack Obama's visit to a Southeast Washington church for Easter services. Reader Peggy noted in the comments:

This ABC headline was rather annoying. It claimed that Obama attended a "mass." Any reader would think that Obama, definitely not a Catholic, crashed a Catholic Easter Sunday mass. I am unaware of any western protestant denomination that calls its worship a "mass." Why on earth would the headline writer say "mass"?


It is a rather rookie mistake. And it's one thing for one reporter or copy editor to make the mistake, but you'd like to think that someone in the newsroom could catch that mistake before publication.

So, if you go to the link now, the headline's been changed to "President Obama Attends Easter Service, but Will He Become a Church Regular?" but the url still says "mass." Here's a screenshot of the original:

Another reader pointed out an error I completely missed in the Washington Post story. Here's how the reporters explained the Communion portion of the service:

But Obama never responded to the attention. He offered no grand wave or parade of handshakes. He never turned around to look at the congregation behind him. His first significant movement came at the end of the service, when he walked to the pulpit to kneel and take Communion with his family. As a bishop recited the Lord's Prayer, Obama ate a wafer and drank and thimble-sized glass of grape juice.

Assuming that the African Methodist Episcopal congregation he attended doesn't distribute Communion from the pulpit, I believe the reporters meant to say "altar rail" or something of that nature.

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