On its website as I type this, celebrity magazine US Weekly features an "exclusive" profile of "NBC Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt.
Right under a report that "Kim Kardashian Says That Caitlyn Jenner's Book Is 'So Hurtful,'" Holt's first-person piece highlights "25 Things You Don't Know About Me."
Things such as Holt's fear of snakes, love of Mexican food and lack of prowess when it comes to mechanical things. ("I once installed a garage shelf that then collapsed, sending buckets of paint falling onto our babysitter's car," he says.)
But it's thing No. 11 that's interesting from a GetReligion perspective:
11. I used to be the lead singer in church.
The only problem: That's not actually true.
Holt, it appears, is the victim of an editing error — an error presumably made by someone who didn't grasp the intricacies of Holt's specific religious background. Does your inquiring mind want to know more?
I am familiar with Holt's Church of Christ ties because of my work as chief correspondent for The Christian Chronicle. In a visit to New York several years ago, I interviewed the newsman about faith and journalism.
Here at GetReligion, we also have highlighted Holt's faith previously:
Erik Tryggestad, the Chronicle's editor in chief, tipped me to the Us Weekly story:
In an item posted on the Chronicle's website, Tryggestad noted that Holt, a member of the Manhattan Church of Christ, discussed the US Weekly piece in a segment on NBC's "Today Show." That's where "Today" co-anchor Matt Lauer asked Holt about being the lead singer at church. It got interesting from there:
"Well, they got that wrong," Holt said. "I think the way I wrote it ... I used to lead the singing in church."
The difference will make sense to those who are familiar with Churches of Christ, which include more than 12,000 congregations in the U.S. with an estimated 1.5 million adherents. The Associated Press Stylebook — "the journalist's bible" — has this note about Churches of Christ:
The churches do not regard themselves as a denomination. Rather, they stress a nondenominational effort to preach what they consider basic Bible teachings and they restrict worship activities to those they've identified in the New Testament. For this reason, they generally exclude instrumental music from worship. The churches also teach that baptism by immersion is essential for salvation.
Along with typically excluding instrumental worship (although some have added this practice in recent years), Churches of Christ stress congregational singing in Sunday worship. Most congregations do not have a choir or singing group up front but instead rely on a song leader to start hymns and keep the church in tune. That would appear to be the role to which Holt is referring.
Getting religion facts correct in mainstream media — even in a celebrity magazine — can be downright complicated.
The simplest edits require — with apologies to the National Enquirer — inquiring minds and devotion to detail.
Right, US Weekly?