Friday Five: SBC abuse, Mabel Grammer's faith, power of nuance, 'fourth-trimester' abortions

You know your big investigative project has made a major splash when other news organizations immediately follow up on your original reporting.

Such is the case with the Houston Chronicle’s bombshell series on sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3).

The Washington Post and Memphis’ Commercial Appeal were among many newspapers that responded to the Houston coverage. I mention those two newspapers because I felt like their stories offered some additional insight into the independent congregational structure of the Southern Baptist Convention that perhaps even the Chronicle didn’t fully grasp.

In any case, let’s dive into the Friday Five (where we’ll see a few more links tied to the SBC):

1. Religion story of the week: Is there any doubt which story will occupy this space?

I wrote GetReligion’s initial post on the Chronicle’s big series on Southern Baptist abuse (“'Guys, you are not my opponent,' Southern Baptist official tells reporters investigating sexual abuse”).

Editor Terry Mattingly delved deeper into the autonomous nature of congregations in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination (“Bottom line: Southern Baptist Convention's legal structure will affect fight against sexual abuse”).

2. Most popular GetReligion post: A post by Julia Duin was our most-clicked analysis of the week.

Her commentary titled “’Ignore vision of the Virgin Mary? Mabel Grammer's Catholicism muted in New York Times obit” beat my SBC post by a nose.

(Oh well, maybe I’ll win next week …)

3. Guilt folder fodder (and more): Kelsey Dallas, national religion reporter at the Deseret News in Salt Lake City, has a weekly email newsletter.

In her most recent edition, I found her reflections on nuance interesting:

I often find journalism advice in unusual places. This week's source was a podcast on the porn industry, created by journalist Jon Ronson. 

In it, Ronson, author of "So You've Been Publicly Shamed," investigates the death of a high-profile porn actress. He speaks with all sorts of industry insiders, including actresses, photographers and the deceased woman's best friends. 

The podcast drew me out of my comfort zone in many ways. It tackled difficult subjects like online bullying, suicide and emotional abuse. But instead of turning it off, I was transfixed by Ronson's skill and sensitivity. He presented information in a balanced way and asked all the right questions. 

I don't think I'll be writing on the porn industry anytime soon, but the podcast made me want to do better when I write about political and legal conflict. Instead of playing up the most scandalous aspects of his story, Ronson focused on nuance. I want to follow his lead. 

4. Shameless plug: “It’s hard to avoid religion when fighting about ‘fourth-trimester’ abortions.”

That’s the thesis of a thought-provoking national religion column by tmatt.

If you missed it, check it out.

5. Final thought: Yes, there’s a religion angle (think Ash Wednesday) in the powerful story detail that Poynter’s Roy Peter Clark noticed in the most compelling image from last year’s Parkland shooting.

Read all of Clark’s column.

Happy Friday, everybody!

Enjoy the weekend!

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