Watch any of the major network interviews with the parents of Walter Scott — the black man shot to death as he ran away from a South Carolina police officer — and their faith is impossible to miss.
As Judy Scott visits with CNN's Anderson Cooper, for example, it's almost humorous the way she keeps trying to talk about God while he presses for details related to her son's shooting:
"The Lord is my strength," the mother tells Cooper, when asked how she's holding up. She describes "knowing God as my personal savior."
Asked what she thinks of Feidin Santana, the Dominican immigrant who captured her son's death on video, Judy Scott replies, "He was there. God planned that. He's the ram in the bush. I truly believe that."
"Ram in the bush" is a biblical reference, but Cooper doesn't ask the mother to explain.
Later in the CNN interview, there's this exchange:
Judy Scott: "I mean, I’m supposed to be really angry and upset and raging and all that. But I can’t. Because of the love of God in me, I can’t be like that. The Bible let me …"
Cooper: "But you don’t feel that in your heart?"
Judy Scott: "No, I feel forgiveness in my heart. Even for the guy that shot and killed my son."
Cooper: "You feel forgiveness?"
Judy Scott: "Yes, for him."
Similarly, on NBC's "Today show, father Walter Scott Sr. looks to God:
From the "Today" website:
Asked if he thought justice would be served, Scott's father answered affirmatively. "God is in the plan...I believe in my heart that God is going to finish this right now."
The family's faith plays a major role, too, in an interview with Atlanta's WSB-TV:
From the WSB-TV report:
“Yes, I may cry, because that's my son, but as far as violence and hate and all of that is concerned, no, I have no hate. There's love, the love of Jesus. He's on the inside,” said Judy Scott, Walter’s mother. “God will see us through no matter what.”
Atlanta attorney L. Chris Stewart said the video of the shooting made him angry.
“It brought tears to my eyes. I just had to walk off and calm down,” Stewart said.
Stewart said the family refreshed his faith.
“I actually prayed this morning when I woke up, which I hadn't done in a while,” Stewart said.
God also figures in a Washington Post report on the man whose video led to a murder charge against officer Michael Slager.
The Post headline:
Man who filmed S.C. police shooting: Maybe God ‘put me there for some reason’
But God actually plays only a cameo role in the story:
Asked how he summoned up the courage to shoot the footage in full view of police, he said on “Morning Joe:” “I don’t know what happened to me at that moment to be honest. I’m a great believer in God. Maybe he put me there for some reason.”
Meanwhile, The Huffington Post quotes North Charleston ministers:
However, for all the God talk in this case — particularly that by the victim's parents — the religion angle remains largely unexplored.
I'd love to see a reporter actually ask the Scotts a few follow-up questions about their faith — from where they go to church to why they see a need to forgive to how they reconcile their trust in God with their son's tragic death.
Faith is an important element of this story, and journalists need to treat it as such.