Welcome to another edition of what could become a regular feature in these confused times for mainstream journalism. The problem is that I don't know what we would call it.
We could call this feature "Got News?" However, we tried that already here at GetReligion and the concept never caught on. The whole idea was that there is often valid news -- often highly important news -- reported in alternative news publications (think denominational press services), yet these stories rarely seem to get covered in the mainstream press.
Then again, the "Got News?" concept doesn't really work when journalists in mainstream newsrooms spot a story, then cover that story, but then fail to offer follow-up reports that let news consumers know about important developments that same ongoing story.
As any experienced journalist knows, it is very rare for major story to break then just freeze. If there is a big news earthquake, there tend to be aftershocks. What would we call this concept -- Got Aftershocks?
This brings me to the Boy Scouts of America. Again.
The other day, I wrote a post about a New York Times report about the decision to begin allowing transgender boys to join the Boy Scouts. This was an interesting report in that -- rare for the Gray Lady -- it focused almost totally on the views of conservative critics of the change and contained next to zero material from voices on the winning side of the debate.
I called that post: "Boy Scouts push trans button: So in which pulpits and pews are people celebrating?" In other words, for reporters covering religion, there were big questions that needed to be answered as the aftershocks of this decision spread into the religious groups that host Scout troops. While some conservatives would head to the exit doors, I wondered how people would respond on the religious left and in the often muddled middle. Thus, I wrote:
If you know anything about Scouting, you know that -- in addition to the Baptists -- the key players are Catholics, Mormons, United Methodists and, to a lesser degree, Episcopalians. So if the goal is to figure out what happens next with this story, readers really needed to hear from leaders in those flocks, especially from progressives who actively supported the changes.
In other words, we need to hear from the winners who now get to put these policies into action.
Soon after this, there was an important reaction from a major religious group -- as in the Roman Catholic committee that works with Scouting programs. This would be important news, right?
Apparently not, if you look for this development by searching major news sources. What you find -- scan this online search -- is that this development isn't news, it appears that this aftershock was merely "conservative" news.
So what happened? Here is the top of a Catholic News Service story that was posted by the Crux team:
IRVING -- The Boy Scouts of America’s new policy to accept members based on their gender identity will have no impact on Scouting units sponsored by the Catholic Church, said the National Catholic Committee on Scouting.
The Boy Scouts announced on January 30 that effective immediately, the Texas-based organization will determine membership eligibility for Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts on a youth’s gender identity as indicated on the membership application. Previously, the policy based eligibility on the gender indicated on a youth’s birth certificate.
The change in policy “has no impact on the operation and program delivery of Scouting program(s) in Catholic-chartered units,” said a February 4 statement issued by the Catholic Scouting committee.
“Scouting serves the Catholic Church through the charter concept, which is similar to a franchise,” it said. “The units chartered to a Catholic institution are owned by that organization. The BSA has stipulated that religious partners will continue to have the right to make decisions for their units based on their religious beliefs.”
This is rather important news. The key is in the last sentence of that passage, the line that states: "The BSA has stipulated that religious partners will continue to have the right to make decisions for their units based on their religious beliefs."
If that is true, the implication is that there would -- nationwide -- be what amounts to two different Boy Scout networks, those with liberal religious doctrines on sexuality and those defending centuries of doctrines among Jews, Christians, Muslims, etc. There would be gender groups and DNA troops.
Does this matter? Well, as the CNS reported noted: "About 70 percent of Boy Scout troops are run by faith-based groups."
So this claim by the Catholic Scouting committee is rather important. However, if Scouting leadership had left that loophole in their headline-grabbing decision, surely that would show up in major news reports? Is this claim by Catholic leaders accurate?
To its credit, the CNS report does note that Scouting leaders are saying that their trans-friendly policy is now expected to be the norm:
In a separate statement emailed February 7 to Catholic News Service, Effie Delimarkos, the Boy Scouts’ director of communications, reiterated that “we will accept and register youth in the Cub and Boy Scout programs based on the gender identity indicated on the application. Our organization’s local councils will help find units that can provide for the best interest of the child.”
Now, that last sentence seems to imply that there will be trans-friendly units and those that have not accepted this policy and that Scouting leaders will help families find a troop that fits the beliefs of individual Scouts and their parents.
But does this mean that all Catholic parishes would have to accept the church's doctrines? What are Catholics on the left saying?
The story notes, quoting a statement released by George S. Sparks, national chairman of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, and Father Kevin M. Smith, the national chaplain of Catholic Scouting:
“Scouting’s chartered organizations have the right to uphold their own moral standards within the units they charter. The teachings of the Catholic Church are upheld.”
This is a pretty important story. Right? Has there been a similar statement from leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
What about churches in the middle and on the left? Is there a national charter for United Methodists (who previously offered to accept Southern Baptist units that were willing to accept the LGBTQ policy changes) involved in Scouting? Or will there be doctrinally conservative United Methodist troops in parts of America and liberal troops in others? How about Episcopalians in Texas vs. those in California?
There will be aftershocks. Is this a real news story or merely "conservative" news, even when this aftershock story will affect believers in moderate and liberal pews?