Monday Mix: Botham Jean, 'nones' in politics, Catholics demand change, black women and more


After taking off last week for Labor Day, we're back with another edition of the Monday Mix.

For those needing a refresher on this new GetReligion feature, we focus in this space on headlines and insights you might have missed from the weekend and late in the week.

We'll mention this again, too: Just because we include a headline here doesn't mean we won't offer additional analysis in a different post, particularly if it's a major story. In fact, if you read a piece linked here and have questions or concerns that we might address, please don't hesitate to comment below or tweet us at @GetReligion. The goal here is to point at important news and say, "Hey, look at this."

Three weekend reads

1. "We will be a better city once we know the truth and once we come together and heal." The Dallas Morning News is providing in-depth coverage of the police-involved killing of Botham Jean, 26, a black man shot by a white officer who entered his apartment after mistaking it for her own.

That coverage includes the strong religion angle as Jean was a beloved church song leader and Bible class teacher.

I ran into Morning News journalists both Saturday and Sunday at the Dallas West Church of Christ as I reported the story for The Christian Chronicle. In fact, the Dallas paper's photographer — in his first week on the job — confused me for his own reporter. We both enjoyed a chuckle over that while covering this terrible tragedy.

2. "The fact that there's an awful lot of overlap between those who are not religiously affiliated and the political left makes them ripe for mobilization." How do you unite a group of people whose common denominator is what they don't believe?

That's the question in an interesting Wall Street Journal report, published Saturday, on nonbelievers seeking political power to match their growing numbers. 

The piece was written by Journal religion writer Ian Lovett and his colleague Erin Ailworth.

3. "It’s our job to help the mother church get through this.” The Associated Press reports on "countless Catholics in the U.S. who are raising their voices in prayer and protest to demand change amid new revelations of sex abuse by priests and allegations of widespread cover-ups."

The weekend story highlights grassroots efforts in Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and other cities nationwide.

Also in the Mix

4. Another weekend AP report uses a pastor's controversial eulogy at Aretha Franklin's funeral as a peg to explore "sexism and inequality" faced by black women in their houses of worship.

Unfortunately, this is one of those stories that lacks much nuance or real theological insight into gender roles in black churches. 

5. More on the Catholic clergy sexual abuse crisis: The Washington Post reports that a D.C. clergyman "has made a dramatic declaration calling on Cardinal Donald Wuerl to resign, the latest blow to Washington’s embattled archbishop."

“The time for cowardice and self-preservation is long past," Deacon James Garcia wrote in a letter quoted this weekend by Post religion writer Julie Zauzmer.

In case you missed it

6. Among the weekend GetReligion posts that you should check out: Terry Mattingly's think piece on a recent Atlantic story on "Why Trump Supporters Believe He Is Not Corrupt."

"Once again," tmatt notes, "a crucial question in this piece is one asked many times here at GetReligion: Who, precisely, are these 'Trump supporters'?"

Question to start the week

7. What can we do to restore "the old, brighter line between news and opinion/commentary," as Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse put in in a tweet this weekend?

The issue isn't just news organizations publishing opinion/commentary that isn't cleared marked. In an increasingly number of cases, editors are choosing to publish opinion pieces on news that has been reported. In other words, they let commentary — which is cheaper to generate than actual reporting — take the place of what actually should begin with an impartial news story. In that case, how do we start with shared facts when we immediately jump to opinion without first presenting the facts? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

Happy Monday, everybody!

Have a terrific week!

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