Picky, picky, picky.
Guilty as charged, especially when it comes to the details of life on the religion beat. Anyone who knows about the day-to-day work done by journalists know that when it comes to writing, editing and the Associated Press Stylebook, we think that God is in the details. You could also say that the gods are in the details, if you wish to do so.
Yes, it's that time again. Time for another look at that journalism trend that your picky GetReligionistas have discussed quite a bit (click here for a classic Bobby Ross, Jr., post) in recent years -- the strange tendency for some journalists to ignore AP style when it comes to references to God.
So let's head right over to the journalism bible (lower-case "b") where we find this:
gods and goddesses
Capitalize God in references to the deity of all monotheistic religions. Capitalize all noun references to the deity: God the Father, Holy Ghost, Holy Spirit, Allah, etc. Lowercase personal pronouns: he, him, thee, thou.
Lowercase gods and goddesses in references to the deities of polytheistic religions. Lowercase god, gods and goddesses in references to false gods: He made money his god.
So with that in mind, let's look at a strange passing reference in an NBC News report about the return of U2 to Paris, for concerts that were cancelled amid safety concerns after the recent massacre there. Here is most of that short story:
Nearly a month after the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people, U2 offered a defiant and unifying message Sunday night during a 27-song concert at the city's AccorHotels Arena.
"Tonight we are all Parisians," the band's singer, Bono, told the crowd. "We stand together with the families who have lost lives here in Paris. We stand together with the families who have lost lives San Bernardino, in Damascus and Beirut.
U2 returns to Paris to play concert originally canceled by shooting 0:38
"We stand together with the families whose children have been taken hostage by an ideology that shows none of the mercy or compassion of the god they deem to serve," he said
Now, NBC could be trying to say that radical jihadists with ISIS and other hellish groups of that kind are serving a false god. However, there is no question that ISIS soldiers and activists insist that they are talking about, and serving, Allah.
In the context of this Bono quote, the God of compassion and mercy that is referenced is clearly supposed to be God, period, and Allah, to use the Arabic term.
Did NBC News mean to claim that Allah is not the God of monotheism? That Islam is not a radically (in the true sense of that word) monotheistic religion?
I would assume not.
Thus, NBC News needs to correct this error. It's the right, and picky, thing to do.