Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights

AP turns anti-Catholic superstar Jack Chick into an all-purpose fundamentalist hero

AP turns anti-Catholic superstar Jack Chick into an all-purpose fundamentalist hero

This will be risky, but I'd like to talk about Adolf Hitler and religion for a moment.

The problem with creating a metaphor involving Hitler is that, as journalist Ron Rosenbaum told me long ago (this is a paraphrase): What people say about Hitler usually reveals more about their biases and beliefs than about those of Hitler. (Rosenbaum is the author of an amazing book, "Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil.")

So here goes. Readers, especially Jewish readers, what would you think if you read a news feature covering the life and legacy of Hitler and, right at the beginning, it stressed that he was known for his oppression of Marxists, Catholics, faithful Lutherans, gays, Jews and gypsies?

On one level, all of that is true. That is an accurate list of groups in Germany, Poland, France and elsewhere that Hitler attacked. But isn't it rather strange to see his war on the Jews turned into a mere bullet item in a list of what appear to be similar offenses?

Now, please hear me say this: I am not about to compare the work of Jack T. Chick with that of Hitler. So what am I attempting here?

I am saying that, when I read the Associated Press obituary for the famous -- many would say "infamous" -- cartoonist the lede struck me as strange. Click here for the version that ran in The Los Angeles Times -- which is symbolic since Chick was based east of LA.

Now, Chick was famous for using his pen to attack lots of different targets. But there is no question that he attacked one body of religious believers more than any other and in ways that were uniquely scandalous. But read the AP lede and try to figure out which body got stabbed the most:

Jack T. Chick, whose cartoon tracts preached fundamentalist Christianity while vilifying secular society, evolution, homosexuality and the beliefs of Catholics and Muslims, has died. He was 92.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Surprise! Catholic League spotted other flaws in New York Times abuse story

Surprise! Catholic League spotted other flaws in New York Times abuse story

I will admit right up front that much of the following information is not shocking. The Catholic League upset at The New York Times? Never!

So here is the background. The other day I praised, in a modest sort of way, a Times piece about the clergy sex-abuse scandal that is still unfolding in the Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, in Western Pennsylvania.

I raised questions, however, about some vague language in this report, especially focusing on legislation being pushed by Representative Mark Rozzi, a Democrat, who experienced abuse by a priest in his childhood. Concerning the legislation, the Times report noted, the time-frames defining windows of opportunity for new lawsuits:

These window laws can leave the church and other institutions open to legions of suits. Lobbyists with the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and the insurance industry have pressed lawmakers to hold the line, and they were working the Capitol’s corridors last week.

Other institutions?

Often, people fighting sexual abuse of children and teens go after the church and fail to target abuse taking place in other major institutions, such as public schools. Thus, I argued that the key vague phrase in that Times passage was "and other institutions." So what other institutions are we talking about? I continued:

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Silence on sex abuse? Nope, 'The Vatican' didn't tell that to its bishops

Silence on sex abuse? Nope, 'The Vatican' didn't tell that to its bishops

It's doubly nice to see a concise, incisive media critique like Bill Donohue of the Catholic League wrote yesterday. Nice to have someone do some of our work on a frantic Friday afternoon. Also nice to remind us at GetReligion that we're not the only ones who notice these things.

Donohue took mainstream media to task for saying the Vatican has told its new bishops they don’t have to report instances of sexual abuse. The flap revolves around remarks of a French monsignor, and whether he was spelling out church policy.

The highly cited Guardian, for instance, reported on this new "Vatican document":

The Catholic church is telling newly appointed bishops that it is “not necessarily” their duty to report accusations of clerical child abuse and that only victims or their families should make the decision to report abuse to police.
A document that spells out how senior clergy members ought to deal with allegations of abuse, which was recently released by the Vatican, emphasised that, though they must be aware of local laws, bishops’ only duty was to address such allegations internally.
“According to the state of civil laws of each country where reporting is obligatory, it is not necessarily the duty of the bishop to report suspects to authorities, the police or state prosecutors in the moment when they are made aware of crimes or sinful deeds,” the training document states.

Things are no different on this shore of the Atlantic.  

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Journalism 101: Little crowd equals big news, while big crowd equals no news -- right?

Journalism 101: Little crowd equals big news, while big crowd equals no news -- right?

During my nearly 40 years in the news biz, I think I have heard the following question more than any other. Yes, even more than, "Why don't journalists get religion?"

The question is this: "Why do journalists consider some 'small' events to be big news, while other really 'big' news events are hardly covered at all?"

This is, of course, a question of news values. It's the old "What is news? Well, we know it when we see it" situation, with journalists trying to explain what is, frankly, an equation that reveals quite a bit about what they think is important and what they think is not very important. (Yes, you heard this recently in the Charlie Hebdo vs. Baga massacre in Nigeria debate.)

The tensions here frequently make non-journalists really mad. This, of course, leads us to veteran press button-pusher Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

Yes, this is a man who rarely uses a flyswatter when a baseball bat will do. However, the following blast at The Los Angeles Times perfectly echoes the "What is news?" question that news consumers -- and many former newspaper subscribers -- keep asking.

Thus, let us attend.

Please respect our Commenting Policy