Al Sharpton

The Los Angeles Times presents the Rev. Al Sharpton, with zero signs of God or faith at all

The Los Angeles Times presents the Rev. Al Sharpton, with zero signs of God or faith at all

A few years ago, I got out a notepad and wrote a list of the "seven deadly sins" of religion writing in the modern mainstream press. 

Right near the top of the list is the tendency among reporters to assume that all religious issues are, in reality, political issues when push comes to shove. It's a kind of militant materialism that assumes the political life is the ultimate reality for all people, since that happens to be the case for legions of people (but not all) in elite newsrooms.

It is especially easy to see this principle at work in mainstream news coverage of the African-American church. Am I the only person that has noticed that major news organizations have started omitting the term "the Rev." when printing the names of many black clergy?

Of course, it must be noted that clergy have -- for generations -- provided crucial public leadership for the entire black community, including in politics. The fact that this is true does not, however, mean that the work these pastors do in the public square has nothing to do with their faith and their role as church leaders.

This brings us to the Rev. Al Sharpton, a Pentecostal preacher turned Baptist whose high-profile work in politics and mass-media career have made him a controversial figure, including among African-American clergy. It is common to hear his critics say that he doesn't deserve the title "the Rev." -- which, in my opinion, only makes it more important for journalists to provide basic facts about who this man is, what he believes and to whom he relates as a minister. The bottom line: He is ordained and he is making faith claims, as well as political claims, when he speaks and/or preaches.

The Los Angeles Times times recently offered up a lengthy news feature on Sharpton that is a perfect, five-star example of all of this. Click on this link and do some searching. Here are some words you will not find in this piece -- "God," "Jesus," "faith," "religion," "Bible" and "ordained." The only reason "church" appears is that there are descriptions of rallies held in churches.

Is this a comment about Sharpton, the Los Angeles Times or both?

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In #Ferguson, a tale of two churches -- one white, one black

In #Ferguson, a tale of two churches -- one white, one black

The news in Ferguson, Mo., goes on and on and on.

I've highlighted coverage of the religion angle here and here, and I'll do so again in this post.

So far, I've found Twitter the best means to keep up with all the faith stories (by the way, follow all the GetReligionistas). 

Godbeat pro Lilly A. Fowler of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch remains on the scene, and Eric Marrapodi of CNN "Belief Blog" fame is there, too.

Former Post-Dispatch religion writer Tim Townsend tweeted a link to a Washington Post story that I found particularly compelling.

The Post story contrasts the stark differences Sunday at a white church sympathetic to the white police officer who shot Michael Brown and a black church mourning the young black man's death.

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