JoAnne Viviano

Jihad journalism: Did Southern Baptists really just declare 'spiritual warfare' on same-sex marriage?

Jihad journalism: Did Southern Baptists really just declare 'spiritual warfare' on same-sex marriage?

Them's fighting words.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Southern Baptist Convention has declared "spiritual warfare" on gay marriage.

The Journal-Constitution's inflammatory lede:

Columbus, Ohio — Declaring “spiritual warfare” on gay marriage, thousands gathered here Tuesday for the annual Southern Baptist Convention and vowed that, no matter what the Supreme Court rules this month, they will never yield on the issue.
The Baptists acknowledged that the court seems likely to legalize same-sex marriage when it rules in the next two weeks, but leaders urged the faithful to stand fast and, indeed, lead the nation in opposition.
“We are in spiritual warfare,” said convention president Rev. Ronnie Floyd. “This is not a time for Southern Baptists to stand back.”
Floyd echoed a generally defiant tone among attendees, many of them pastors, who have faced increasing criticism for their belief that the Bible declares homosexuality a sin and limits marriage to a man and a woman. At a time when society is increasingly tolerant of same-sex unions, he said, Southern Baptists must stand by their views.
“This is not the time to retreat,” said Floyd, who leads Cross Church in Arkansas. “The alarm clock is going off around the world. Now is not the time to hit the snooze button.”

A reader who shared the Atlanta newspaper's story with GetReligion said:

I'm not a Southern Baptist. In fact, I'm an ex-Southern Baptist, but even still the title and lede struck me evidencing a very basic lack of understanding about the use of the phrase "spiritual warfare" by American evangelical Christians. A little digging on the internet will find that the exact statement from the convention's president was "We are in a spiritual warfare." Twisting that into "We declare war" shows a basic unfamiliarity with the terminology.

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No gray area: Look what happened when a Godbeat pro covered '50 Shades of Grey'

No gray area: Look what happened when a Godbeat pro covered '50 Shades of Grey'

I haven't read the book. Don't plan to.

I haven't seen the movie. Don't plan to.

But alas, "50 Shades of Grey" — which opens in theaters today — has been pretty impossible to miss in my Twitter feed.

Amid the 50 shades of links — most promoting blog posts and columns — I was pleased to spot an actual news story by a top Godbeat pro quoting religious leaders.

JoAnne Viviano, as regular GetReligion readers will remember, is the award-winning religion writer for the Columbus Dispatch in Ohio.

Her story on "50 Shades" quotes a half-dozen religious people — from a Catholic bishop to a Jewish rabbi to a liberal Protestant pastor.

The lede quotes a woman familiar to me:

Lynn Stevens has been watching in horror as her friends make plans to see Fifty Shades of Grey, a film that tells the story of a recent college graduate involved with a man who introduces her to sadomasochism.
“My stance is empowering women, not overpowering women,” said Stevens, who directs We Are Cherished Ohio, a group that takes the Christian message to women who work in the sex industry.
The film, which opens Friday in advance of Valentine’s Day, “glamorizes and glorifies domestic violence” and creates a romantic image of a man who abuses and manipulates women, she said.

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5Q+1 interview: From God and guns to Death Row salvation, JoAnne Viviano excels reporting on faith and values

5Q+1 interview: From God and guns to Death Row salvation, JoAnne Viviano excels reporting on faith and values

JoAnne Viviano covers faith and values for the Columbus Dispatch, a central Ohio newspaper with a daily circulation of 120,000 and an average Sunday circulation of about 230,000.

Her Godbeat writing earned her the 2014 Cornell Religion Reporter of the Year Award from the Religion Newswriters Association. That award honors excellence in religion reporting at mid-sized newspapers.

"I grew up in suburban Detroit, where my mom fostered in me an early love for books by taking me to the library regularly and teaching me to read as a kindergartener," Viviano said.

She received a bachelor of arts degree in English and communication from the University of Michigan ("not very popular here in Columbus!") before starting working as a reporter. She recalls "an amazing mentor there named Jon Hall, who helped me find the confidence I needed to turn my writing abilities into a career as a reporter."

Her first writing job came with her Michigan hometown weekly, The Romeo Observer, followed by stints with The Macomb Daily in Mount Clemens, Mich., the New Haven Register in Connecticut and The Vindicator in Youngstown, Ohio. Along the way, she covered beats ranging from general assignments to municipal governments to state courts to education to crime.

Shortly before a strike hit The Vindicator, she left an earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University. That led her to The Associated Press, where she worked for several years, starting in the Detroit bureau before moving to Columbus, eventually serving as a breaking-news staffer.

"I came to The Columbus Dispatch in 2012 because I missed beat reporting and being part of a metro newsroom," Viviano said. "It was a scary choice, with the way the industry has been, but I’m glad I made it. The Dispatch has remained strong and is a supportive, positive place to work."

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Best of the Godbeat: At #RNA2014, Religion Newswriters Association honors top religion journalism

Best of the Godbeat: At #RNA2014, Religion Newswriters Association honors top religion journalism

Here at GetReligion, we've been big fans of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's exceptional religion writers.

So we weren't surprised to see former Post-Gazette Godbeat specialist Ann Rodgers, Pittsburgh's longtime "queen of religion news," and her successor, Peter Smith, take top honors in the Religion Newswriters Association's annual writing awards. 

Religion News Service's David Gibson — known for his analysis pieces — won first place in the Religion Reporter of the Year category for large newspapers and wire services.

Time magazine's Elizabeth Dias earned first place in the Supple Religion Feature Writer of the Year contest for work that included a cover story on "The Latino Reformation." Her winning entry includes the full, 3,500-word story on Hispanic evangelicals, which was hidden behind a paywall when it was originally published.

Winners were announced Saturday night at #RNA2014 — RNA's annual meeting — in the Atlanta area.

For GetReligion readers, a number of other names on the award list will be familiar, too.

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