To celebrate Easter, another major news organization flubs the never-ending 'Two Corinthians' controversy

Here we go again.

The whole Donald Trump "Two Corinthians" snafu of January 2016 has made its way back into media coverage of the president's faith.

And yet again — as happened with CNN just last month — a major news organization has fallen short when it comes to accuracy and precision in correcting Trump and his lack of biblical knowledge.

The latest example occurs in The Associated Press' story on Trump and his family attending an Easter service in Palm Beach, Fla. More on that in a moment.

But first, some helpful background: In a front-page feature in 2013, the New York Times mistakenly referred to the biblical book of "Corinthians." That story, still not corrected almost four years later, prompted me to ask here at GetReligion:

Which Corinthians — 1 Corinthians or 2 Corinthians? By my count, this is the second case of GetReligion questioning the Times' failure to specify which book of Corinthians.

Of course, the Trump incident suddenly made Bible experts out of the news media — including the Times. (Sarcasm intended.)

Now, when journalists provide background on Trump and religion, they inevitably mention the "Two Corinthians" controversy. I've got no problem with that. Seriously.

But I wish they'd do a better job at getting it right.

Here's the relevant section of AP's Easter story:

Trump described himself as a "religious person" during his campaign, but often appeared to struggle to affirm his Christian credentials as he worked to woo the Evangelical voters who helped drive him into office.
He often carried a copy of his childhood Bible and a photo of his confirmation to provide evidence of his Presbyterian upbringing and made what were seen as several minor missteps, including mistakenly referring to Second Corinthians as "two Corinthians" during an appearance at the Christian Liberty University.

A couple of asides before I comment on Second Corinthians:

• First, the AP Stylebook — "the journalist's bible" — calls for "evangelical" to be lowercased, so the wire service gets its own style wrong.

Second, the reference to "Christian Liberty University" is really awkward. It reads like that's the actual name of the university. A phrasing such as "Liberty University, a Christian university" would be clearer. 

But back to my main point: Is it accurate that Trump mistakenly referred to Second Corinthians as "two Corinthians."

We've addressed this question before at GetReligion, noting that Trump didn't really mess up when he used that terminology. Click that link for a full explanation, but here's the gist: Some pretty prominent Bible scholars — particularly British ones — use the same "Two Corinthians" language as Trump did.

So AP — like CNN before it — would do well to follow the lead of Washington Post religion writer Julie Zauzmer, who put the controversy in a better context in a recent report:

This is not the first time Trump has spoken at Liberty. He addressed the school’s convocation in 2012 and again in 2016 during his presidential campaign, when some mocked him for calling a book of the Bible “Two Corinthians” instead of the common American phrasing “Second Corinthians.”

In journalism, accuracy and precision matter.

That's true, believe it or not, even when writing about a president who obviously isn't most reporters' favorite.

 

 

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