That's my basic reaction to a Los Angeles Times story this week on same-sex marriage and religious freedom:
This is one of those stories that — in roughly 1,200 words — manages to cover a lot of ground while really covering no ground at all. It's the journalistic equivalent of an all-you-can-eat buffet. You pile your plate full of everything and can't really concentrate on anything. And your stomach aches afterward.
Let's start at the top:
For some, the Supreme Court's decision declaring that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry put the free exercise of religion in danger.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was among them.
"Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage — when, for example, a religious college provides married student housing only to opposite-sex couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples," Roberts wrote in a dissent joined by three other justices.
He also perceived a threat to tax exemptions for religious schools and colleges that oppose same-sex marriage. "Unfortunately, people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today," Roberts said.
On the other hand, the same high court has expanded religious liberties. Just a year ago, the court's majority ruled for the Christian owners of the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores, holding they had a religious-freedom right to refuse to pay for certain contraceptives mandated by the Obama administration under the federal Affordable Care Act.
Keep reading, and the Times scattershoots at free exercise of religion, tax exemptions, church and state, religion in the workplace, etc., etc., etc.
In the end, the piece provides no new insight, although this statement is a head scratcher:
Though some conservatives have complained that the decision forces religious people to perform same-sex weddings they believe violate their faith, ministers and pastors still have a right to refuse to participate in such ceremonies, as even supporters of gay rights are quick to acknowledge.
Who are the unnamed conservatives who have made that complaint? A tiny minority may have that perception, but who "in the know" has said that?
Maybe I'm being overly critical, but I wish the Times had devoted its time — and space — to delving into serious religious freedom questions tied to the high court's decision.
Instead, readers were treated to a mediocre hodgepodge.