A reader asks: Is there a religion ghost in story of man arrested for popping 'Baby Trump' balloon?

A reader asks: Is there a religion ghost in story of man arrested for popping 'Baby Trump' balloon?

“Baby Trump” met his demise in Alabama over the weekend. Not for the first time, though.

Who, some might ask, is Baby Trump?

According to, he’s an “iconic” balloon that is “widely known as a symbol to protest the President.” Evidently, not everybody is a fan of Baby Trump. And perhaps, just perhaps, a holy ghost haunts the latest news involving the big balloon. More on that in a moment.

First, though, let’s meet Hoyt Hutchinson. ABC News reports:

A few dozen people were gathered in Monnish Park protesting the president's visit to the Alabama-LSU football game a half-mile away and holding various anti-Trump signs when a disapproving man approached the helium-balloon with a knife and slashed an 8-foot-long gash in its back. There were still two hours to kickoff in the college town when "Baby Trump" quickly deflated out and the balloon-stabbing suspect attempted to flee the scene, organizers said.

Tuscaloosa police said in a statement that officers witnessed the incident which led them to arrest Hoyt Deau Hutchinson, 32, and charge him with felony first degree criminal mischief. He was booked into the Tuscaloosa County Jail and held on a $2,500 bond. The slashing appears to have been premeditated as Hutchinson posted a Facebook Live video just hours before the incident saying he was "going down [there] to make a scene ... I'm shaking I'm so mad right now," he said. "I'm fixin’ to pop this balloon, without a doubt."

The Alabama Media Group adds more details to the story today, noting that the Baby Trump stabber gave a radio interview in which he cast his action as a case of “good vs. evil.”

“Seems like a ghost or two here,” said a reader who shared that link with GetReligion. “What church does he go to? What do they think?”

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Black Panther actress links life, faith, depression, acting -- while reporters miss ties that bind

Black Panther actress links life, faith, depression, acting -- while reporters miss ties that bind

Every now and then, a loyal GetReligion reader sends us a URL to a story and makes a remark like this: “Says it all. Run this.”

When this happens, you can almost always count on the URL being from some alternative source of news and commentary, the kind of advocacy driven site that we don’t pay much attention to — since GetReligion focuses on hard news. Of course, we do run “think pieces” on the weekend linked to religion-news trends that tend to come from all over the place.

In this case, the subject of the piece is a public figure — a popular actress — stating that she has noticed a trend in news coverage about her work, as her star ascends in the Marvel Universe and elsewhere.

The headline states the thesis: “ ‘Black Panther’ Star: Journalists Censor When ‘I Give God the Glory.’ “ And here is the overture of this piece at the CatholicVote website:

Letitia Wright captivated millions on the big screen as Shuri, the younger sister of T’Challa, or the Black Panther. But, as her career continues skyrocketing, she wants the world to know that her success is not her own; it’s God’s. 

If only the media would report on it.

The 26-year-old actress, born in Guyana and raised in London, recently took to Twitter to express frustration over some journalists cutting out her praise for God from interviews.

“It’s super cute when journalists/interviewers for magazines leave out the massive part where I give God the glory for the success/ achievements in my life,” Wright tweeted on October 28. And yet, she added, “I still love you and God will still be praised.”

Her fans agreed. 

“[F]avorite actress not just for talent but for the faith in God!!!” exclaimed one follower, while another added, “God sees you sis.” Black-ish actor Miles Brown also chimed in, responding with emojis of hands clapping in applause.

Now, I freely admit that people have been talking about this story, and this tweet, for some time now.

In part, that’s because of this interesting response from Sarah Pulliam Bailey of the Washington Post (a former member of the GetReligion team).

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Friday Five: Mexico massacre, German Catholics, Christian contraception, John Crist, wild shot

Friday Five: Mexico massacre, German Catholics, Christian contraception, John Crist, wild shot

Welcome to another edition of the Friday Five.

Usually, I offer a bit of extra information or at least a little wit before getting to the point.

But this week I’ll confess that I’ve got nothing, so let’s dive right in:

1. Religion story of the week: The Los Angeles Times’ Jaweed Kaleem was among those who reported on the massacre of a large Mormon clan in Mexico.

Also on the story: New York Times religion writer Elizabeth Dias, who contributed to coverage here and here.

Elsewhere, The Associated Press noted that the slayings highlighted confusion over Mormon groups. The Washington Post explained “How Mexico’s cartel wars shattered American Mormons’ wary peace,” and the Wall Street Journal reported on Mormon families gathering to mourn those killed.

Here’s one more: A stunning New York Times feature on the details of the attack itself and on-the-scene reporting about the families wrestling with grief and the details of how to respond. The reporting is deep and detailed — except that there’s no real sense of why these believers are in Mexico and what separates them from mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints life.

That seems like a rather important subject, in this case.

2. Most popular GetReligion post: Editor Terry Mattingly has our No. 1 commentary of the week, headlined “Washington Post: Catholics should follow Germany's gospel when seeking future growth.”

No, tmatt was not a fan of the Post’s very one-sided story:

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Oriole Chris Davis makes $3 million gift to help at-risk children, for some vague reason

Oriole Chris Davis makes $3 million gift to help at-risk children, for some vague reason

Consider this a rare GetReligion hot-stove season baseball report. The shocker is that it is not written by our resident baseball fanatic, Bobby Ross, Jr. I guess that’s because this story concerns a member of the Baltimore Orioles, a team currently in a radical-rebuild mode (that could use a miracle or two).

This is another Baltimore Sun story about the troubled slugger Chris Davis, whose struggles at the plate have made many national headlines. It doesn’t help that Davis is (a) aging, (b) holding a first-base slot that blocks younger players and (c) a few years into a massive seven-year, $161 million contract.

I have written about Davis before. At some point in time, some powerful judge in media land appears to have made a ruling that it is out of bounds to include references to his evangelical faith in stories about his life, values, family and career.

Davis recently made big news with his pen and a checkbook and, I would argue, journalists needed to ask some faith questions in this case. But first, let’s look at a hint of faith language in a different Sun story that ran the other day: “I have hope now’: Orioles’ Chris Davis carrying confidence early in offseason.” The key is that Davis is feeling better — physically and mentally — and already getting ready for 2020.

Jill Davis noted that her husband normally takes October off, but she said Davis has been ramping up his activities to the point it won’t be long before he spends his days working out, running and hitting, all while balancing the scheduling quirks their three daughters bring. The Davises have a family trip planned for early December, plus a mission trip in January.

OK, I’ll ask. What kind of “mission trip”? A generic one?

This leads me to some big news in Baltimore, $3 million worth of news that’s totally consistent with the life that the Davis family lives: “Orioles’ Chris Davis and his wife, Jill, make record donation to University of Maryland Children’s Hospital.” Here is the overture:

Chris and Jill Davis made their way from room to room at the University of Maryland Medical Center’s pediatric intensive care unit. A visit in July inspired how the Orioles’ first baseman and his wife spent their Monday morning. This trip in the afternoon was made by choice.

They stopped by rooms of little girls who, like their three daughters, love princesses. They met two boys who, like their two youngest children, were twins. They brightened the days of families who had children, like their own once had, facing congenital heart defects.

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Jesus, sin, the cross: AP skips past an interesting quote by former Iranian revolutionary

Jesus, sin, the cross: AP skips past an interesting quote by former Iranian revolutionary

Every now and then, you hit a direct quote in a news story that makes you pause, scratch your head and say, “What?”

That’s what happened recently to a GetReligion reader who while looking at an Associated Press report about an interesting plot twist in the life of man who participated in one of the most important news events of the late 1970s.

Here is the headline that appeared atop the Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne, Ind.) version of this AP story: “Iranian student now regrets seizing embassy.

Let’s look at the overture, reading down to the key quote:

TEHRAN, Iran — His revolutionary fervor diminished by the years that have also turned his dark brown hair white, one of the Iranian student leaders of the 1979 U.S. Embassy takeover says he now regrets the seizure of the diplomatic compound and the 444-day hostage crisis that followed.

Speaking to The Associated Press ahead of today's 40th anniversary of the attack, Ebrahim Asgharzadeh acknowledged that the repercussions of the crisis still reverberate as tensions remain high between the U.S. and Iran over Tehran's collapsing nuclear deal with world powers.

Asgharzadeh cautioned others against following in his footsteps, despite the takeover becoming enshrined in hard-line mythology. He also disputed a revisionist history now being offered by supporters of Iran's Revolutionary Guard that they directed the attack, insisting all the blame rested with the Islamist students who let the crisis spin out of control.

“Like Jesus Christ, I bear all the sins on my shoulders,” Asgharzadeh said.

Yes, that’s apparently what he said.

As our reader commented in an email: “He mentions Jesus taking on the sins of the world on his shoulders, and he is doing likewise. Might he have become Christian?

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The Washington Post's 'race whisperer' account: more complicated than you might expect

The Washington Post's 'race whisperer' account: more complicated than you might expect

The story of preacher and activist James Stern, as told by Katie Mettler for The Washington Post, initially resembles that of Ron Stallworth (author of Black Klansman) or musician Daryl Davis (featured in the documentary Accidental Courtesy).

That isn’t a bad thing. There is an immediate appeal to stories of people who outwit their would-be oppressors.

Stern’s method differed significantly because, as Mettler writes, his “do-gooder credentials were accompanied by a history of criminal opportunism.”

The story of Stern engaging with Jeff Schoep, former leader of the National Socialist Movement, remains fascinating, but there is a bittersweet quality to its resolution, at least for readers who care more about redemption than vengeance.

Mettler’s feature of nearly 4,800 words is part of a Post series on “those who commit acts of hatred, those who are targets of attacks, and those who investigate and prosecute them.”

The story is, sadly, hampered by its scant attention the role of faith in Stern’s life.

A photograph by Philip Cheung shows him preaching at Quinn African Methodist Episcopal Church in Moreno Valley, Calif., but the story makes no reference to what was said in that sermon. Another photo shows Stern praying with three board members he appointed to oversee the National Socialist Movement after he convinced Schoep to sign over the control of that group. What was said? The story says nothing more about it.

This is the one segment in which Mettler touches on how Stern’s faith prompted him to show compassion toward an elderly Edgar Ray Killen, when they both were serving time at the Mississippi State Penitentiary:

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The single-most important word in WSJ's fascinating portrait of Southern Baptists' generational divide

The single-most important word in WSJ's fascinating portrait of Southern Baptists' generational divide

The Washington Post’s Sarah Pulliam Bailey called it a “fascinating read.”

To which I say: Amen!

I’m talking about Wall Street Journal national religion writer Ian Lovett’s story this week on a generational divide shaking Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

The recent turmoil (recent as in the last year and a half) at that seminary is not breaking news, of course. But Lovett explores an angle that does seem fresh, especially for a major secular newspaper such as the Journal.

The lede sets the scene by outlining the news that has captured headlines and then putting it in a larger context:

FORT WORTH, Texas — After the Rev. Adam W. Greenway stepped to the lectern during his inauguration as the ninth president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, he acknowledged the tumult that had engulfed the school in recent years.

The previous president was fired. Enrollment plummeted, and the training ground for many of the nation’s most famous pastors found itself at the center of a debate over the treatment of women in the church.

“I cannot change the past,” he said. “For any way in which we have fallen short, I am sorry.”

A generational gulf is threatening to split evangelical Christianity.

While older evangelicals have become a political force preaching traditional values, younger ones are deviating from their parents on issues like same-sex marriage, Israel, the role of women, and support for President Trump.

And then the Godbeat pro offers his nut graf:

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Bitter clash between LGBTQ orthodoxy and Orthodox Christianity? Press should ask about that

Bitter clash between LGBTQ orthodoxy and Orthodox Christianity? Press should ask about that

Over the past week or two, I have probably received more emails about the bitter divorce and custody case surrounding a 7-year-old child in Texas than any other topic.

The father, Jeffrey Younger, calls his son James. The child’s pediatrician mother, Anne Georgulas, has transitioned to the name “Luna,” since she believes her child has sent clues that, while identified as male at birth, “Luna” has shown evidence of gender dysphoria and should begin transitioning to life as a female.

The topic has roared through social media for some time now, as trans cases involving young children tend to do.

In the emails I have received, quite a bit of attention has been focused on the mother’s very Greek name — Georgulas. The question many are asking is quite simple: Is this a battle inside an Eastern Orthodox family?

I have delayed writing about this case, since I was waiting to see what would happen when it broke out of social-media and into elite media. Now the New York Times and the Washington Post have spoken.

The bottom line: The fact that the father, and his supporters, think that Christian faith is relevant in this case isn’t an viewpoint that is worthy of discussion. This case is rooted in politics, law and modern medicine. And that’s that. This is all about fake news.

Thus, here is the double-decker headline at the Times:

Texas Father Says 7-Year-Old Isn’t Transgender, Igniting a Politicized Outcry 

A bitter custody battle grabbed the attention of Gov. Greg Abbott, Senator Ted Cruz and other conservative lawmakers.

That fits perfectly with the overture:

A bitter custody battle in Dallas that centers on the gender identity of a 7-year-old child provoked an outcry among conservatives this month. 

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Only The Atlantic dares call out the Kanye West–Donald Trump–Jesus Freak axis

Only The Atlantic dares call out the Kanye West–Donald Trump–Jesus Freak axis

Spencer Kornhauber has turned in a glibly critical review of Kanye West’s new film, Jesus Is King. He is not obliged to like West’s music now more than anyone had to like it before West’s deepened focus on the person of Christ. (West recorded “Jesus Walks” 15 years ago.)

As Kornhauber describes it, Jesus Is King sounds nearly as tedious as Goddfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi, except that West’s film is 35 minutes, compared to 86 minutes of unsubtle imagery about the evils of using technology to ease our quotidian lives.

Still, there are some clunkers here that suggest an inattention to detail. In two paragraphs, Kornhauber makes the humorous point that having one’s hair dyed is an odd moment for a spiritual awakening:

West replied that his come-closer-to-Jesus episode happened around April, when he got his hair colored purple. “I remember when the hair dye was placed on my head the morning before Coachella,” he said. “It felt cold. I didn’t like it. I had an aversion to it. And then when the guy was dyeing it, I didn’t even like how it came out.”

As far as the beginnings of awakening stories go, this one’s definitely new. Bob Dylan had a cross thrown at him by a fan and then was visited by Christ in his hotel room. Kanye West got a bad dye job — and then what? Dunno. West changed the subject to the decline of manufacturing jobs in the United States.

Hold the phone: a fan threw a cross at Dylan? What part of his body was the target? His head? His heart? His butt?

A simple click of the link provides the same language Dylan has used about this incident since the late 1970s: the fan tossed the small cross onto the stage. There’s no indication of its proximity to Dylan, much less where the fan had aimed.

Here’s something more substantial. Kornhauber writes:

The film made me think of funky, stucco mid-century churches, and the way they can seem like campy architectural artifacts today. It made me think of Jesus Freaks, and Hillsong, and all the other revival movements aimed at hipping up Christ.

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