Children

Hey AP, your slanted headline on Texas adoption story is why so many distrust mainstream press

Hey AP, your slanted headline on Texas adoption story is why so many distrust mainstream press

This Associated Press headline screams discrimination:

Texas adoption agencies could ban Jews, gays, Muslims

But is anti-Jewish, anti-gay and/or anti-Muslim discrimination really the emphasis of a Texas lawmaker's bill that he says is designed to protect the religious freedom of faith-based adoption agencies?

Or is the idea that, say, a Baptist ministry licensed by the state should be able to adhere to its "sincerely held religious beliefs" and choose only parents in keeping with its beliefs — meaning heterosexual, married, Christian couples?

AP — in a slanted report that illustrates why so many Americans doubt the mainstream press' ability to be fair and accurate — seems uninterested in telling both sides of the story.

From the beginning, the wire service report — which was touted on this morning's daily news email from The Dallas Morning News — seems mainly concerned with the perspective of gay-rights advocates:

Parents seeking to adopt children in Texas could soon be rejected by state-funded or private agencies with religious objections to them being Jewish, Muslim, gay, single, or interfaith couples, under a proposal in the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Five other states have passed similar laws protecting faith-based adoption organizations that refuse to place children with gay parents or other households on religious grounds — but Texas' rule would extend to state-funded agencies. Only South Dakota's is similarly sweepingly.
The bill had been scheduled for debate and approval Saturday in the state House, but lawmakers bogged down with other matters. It now is expected to come up next week.
Republican sponsors of Texas' bill say it is designed to support the religious freedom of adoption agencies and foster care providers. Many of the agencies are private and faith-based but receive state funds.
But opponents say it robs children of stable homes while funding discrimination with taxpayer dollars.
"This would allow adoption agencies to turn away qualified, loving parents who are perhaps perfect in every way because the agency has a difference in religious belief," said Catherine Oakley, senior legislative counsel for the Human Rights Campaign. "This goes against the best interest of the child."

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That child beating case in Indy: More 'religion' coverage that marginalizes religion

That child beating case in Indy: More 'religion' coverage that marginalizes religion

You know those pseudo-fruit drinks like Tang and Country Time -- you know, tasting vaguely like orangeade and lemonade without the actual fruit? Well, mainstream media come close to that "ideal" in coverage of a woman who gave religious reasons for beating her son.

The stories, like this one in USA Today, have Kin Park Thaing quote Scripture to defend her taking a coat hanger to her child's back, arm and thigh. Nothing on what her church or pastor might say about it:

INDIANAPOLIS (USA Today) An Indiana mother who beat her 7-year-old son with a coat hanger is citing the state’s religious freedom law as a defense against felony child abuse charges, saying her choice of discipline comes straight from her evangelical Christian beliefs.
The Indianapolis woman quoted biblical Scripture in court documents. She said that a parent who “spares the rod, spoils the child,” and: “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.”

We'll leave aside the fact that "Spare the rod and spoil the child" is not in the Bible; it's actually a digest of several verses by 17th century poet Samuel Butler -- something a religion news specialist likely would have caught. Let's look instead at the gaping holes in the coverage.

There is no denying the brutality of the mother's attack:

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In Catholic schools: Demographics is destiny, so is doctrine

In Catholic schools: Demographics is destiny, so is doctrine

Not that long ago, I wrote a post about religious faith and mathematics that turned into a "Crossroads" podcast. The post talked about a number of hot stories and trends on the religion-news beat -- think thinning ranks in the Catholic priesthood, for example -- and then boiled things down to this statement: "Demographics is destiny and so is doctrine."

One of the other stories mentioned was this:

... Sometimes you have to see the numbers written on the walls. ...

* Nationwide, the Catholic church has been forced to close many of its parishes, especially in urban areas, along with their schools -- due to falling numbers in pews and desks.

This leads me to a timely story that ran recently in The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J., and was also picked up by Religion News Service. The oh-so familiar headline proclaimed: "Catholic schools fight to keep doors open as future dims." The lede was intentionally nostalgic and to the point:

NEWARK, N.J. (RNS) Suzanne Alworth remembers the glory days of Catholic schools: classrooms taught by nuns packed with close to 40 children in blue-and-white plaid uniforms.

But 35 years later, Alworth’s high school, Immaculate in Montclair, where she graduated in 1979, is fighting to stay open. The school is $900,000 in debt, enrollment is less than half of the building’s capacity and the Archdiocese of Newark will close its doors if it can’t come up with a plan to boost enrollment and improve its finances, said Jim Goodness, a spokesman for the archdiocese.

“It was a complete surprise when they decided to close the school,” Alworth said. “I’m going to do everything I can to keep this school open because I believe in its mission.”

Like I said, it's a familiar, but very important story.

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Surprise! Same-sex couples produce happier kids, media say

Surprise! Same-sex couples produce happier kids, media say

Ordinarily, quality journalism benefits from solid information, concrete evidence and a healthy dose of skepticism.

But certainly, major news organizations can be forgiven when they err on the side of a higher ideal, right?

In this week's example, that higher ideal would be acceptance of same-sex parents.

At this point in history, producing a baby apparently — and regrettably, it seems — still requires a father and a mother. But on the bright side, a "major study" has come up with this encouraging news:

Children of same-sex couples are happier and healthier than peers, research shows

That was the headline in the Washington Post. 

The breathless top of the Post story:

Children of same-sex couples fare better when it comes to physical health and social well-being than children in the general population, according to researchers at the University of Melbourne in Australia.

“It’s often suggested that children with same-sex parents have poorer outcomes because they’re missing a parent of a particular sex. But research my colleagues and I published in the journal BMC Public Health shows this isn’t the case,” lead researcher Simon Crouch wrote on the Conversation.

Crouch and his team surveyed 315 same-sex parents with a total of 500 children across Australia. About 80 percent of the kids had female parents and about 18 percent had male parents, the study states.

Children from same-sex families scored about 6 percent higher on general health and family cohesion, even when controlling for socio-demographic factors such as parents’ education and household income, Crouch wrote. However, on most health measures, including emotional behavior and physical functioning, there was no difference compared with children from the general population.

Crouch suggested the greater social cohesion among same-sex families comes from an equal distribution of work. He said same-sex couples are likely to share responsibilities more equally than heterosexual ones.

“It is liberating for parents to take on roles that suit their skills rather than defaulting to gender stereotypes, where mum is the primary care giver and dad the primary breadwinner,” he said.

 

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NYTimes mostly 'gets it' on German schools and Islam

A few days ago, George Conger took to this space to “bury“ The New York Times for suddenly noticing the rise of Calvinism in unlikely Protestant venues, such as (Southern) Baptist churches. Today, I’d like to congratulate the Times for, mostly, “getting it” when it comes to Germany’s public schools and religious instruction, in this case about Islam. Here’s the top of that report:

FRANKFURT – For the first time, German public schools are offering classes in Islam to primary school students using state-trained teachers and specially written textbooks, as officials try to better integrate the nation’s large Muslim minority and counter the growing influence of radical religious thinking.

The classes offered in Hesse State are part of a growing consensus that Germany, after decades of neglect, should do more to acknowledge and serve its Muslim population if it is to foster social harmony, overcome its aging demographics and head off a potential domestic security threat.

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The late Rev. Fred Rogers fills his pastoral role, once again

During the past few days, how many of you have either (a) seen this picture and the following quotation on Facebook or (b) have received an email with a URL that points you toward this material?

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