Was there a spiritual component to the funeral for Walter Scott, the black man shot by a South Carolina police officer?


That was the obvious lede from Saturday's funeral for Walter Scott, the black man whose videotaped shooting by a South Carolina police officer sparked national outrage.

The Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and USA Today all focused on that angle — and rightly so — after the victim's pastor said he had no doubt Scott's death "was motivated by racial prejudice":

But here's my question: Was there a spiritual component to the funeral?

Beyond the Rev. George D. Hamilton's remarks about race, did he say anything about faith? Did he read any Scriptures? Did he pray?

The AP hinted at religious elements to the service — but just briefly:  

Scott was remembered as a gentle soul and a born-again Christian. "He was not perfect," the minister said, adding that nobody is.
The two-hour service included spirituals and remembrances of the 50-year-old Scott.

The New York Times quoted Congressman Mark Sanford, the former governor, as calling the funeral a "beautiful, spirit-filled service" — but the Old Gray Lady didn't go into any detail. 

USA Today quoted a family attorney who described the Scotts as "god-centered" — but Gannett's flagship newspaper bothered neither to capitalize God nor to explore what role he might have played at the funeral. (On a related note, if you missed tmatt's recent post on AP style for the Almighty, be sure to check it out.)

The Los Angeles Times allowed:

Scott was laid to rest in a blue casket adorned with images of Bibles. Each member of his family held a single yellow rose. There was no talk of the shooting or of racial profiling. There were only prayers, readings from Scripture, and the soft sobs of the mourners.

That's a nice start. Unfortunately, it's the end of the LATimes story. Readers are left to guess the actual contents of the prayers and Bible verses.

As a result, holy ghosts haunt coverage of the South Carolina story — and not for the first time.

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