Lincoln Journal-Star

After a tragic shooting, a prayer at a Chick-fil-A in Nebraska draws a GetReligion reader's interest

After a tragic shooting, a prayer at a Chick-fil-A in Nebraska draws a GetReligion reader's interest

Matters of faith and Chick-fil-A — the popular fast-food chicken chain that closes on Sundays — often make their way into the news, as GetReligion readers know.

On Tuesday, a tragic shooting occurred at a Chick-fil-A in Lincoln, Neb.

Really, it’s a local story, not one that we’d normally give national attention.

But a reader contacted us about it because of a key religion detail that she noticed. The detail impressed her as out of whack. In other words, a case of the secular press not getting religion.

Hey, that’s why we’re here!

I’ll explain more in a moment. But first, here’s the top of the Lincoln Journal Star’s front-page story on the shooting:

A disgruntled customer who was escorted out of a Chick-fil-A restaurant in south Lincoln on Tuesday afternoon and then drove his pickup into the building, was shot and killed by a railroad officer, Lincoln Police said.

Officers were called to the restaurant at 6810 S. 27th St. shortly after 1 p.m. on an initial report that a vehicle had driven into the business, police said at an afternoon news conference.

On their arrival, police found the uniformed BNSF Railway senior special agent performing CPR on the suspect, who customers and employees described as a balding, middle-aged man dressed in black.

He died of injuries at the scene. Police are expected to release his name Wednesday.

According to witnesses, the man had begun to act erratically inside the restaurant just as the lunch rush began to slow.

Thomas Arias was working behind the counter when the 15-year-old heard a commotion in the dining room, looked over and saw a customer flipping tables and throwing food.

“He was yelling, ‘It’s just a f---ing sandwich.’”

Keep reading, and the newspaper offers more crucial facts about the frightening episode.

It’s this portion of the initial story posted online, however, that drew the attention of the reader who contacted us:

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Good journalism? Slanted journalism? Readers disagree on story out of Cornhuskers territory

Good journalism? Slanted journalism? Readers disagree on story out of Cornhuskers territory

Your GetReligionistas don't venture into Nebraska Cornhuskers territory all that often.

However, two readers called our attention to a Lincoln Journal Star story on the Alliance Defending Freedom, the religious liberty law group. 

"This is good journalism," one reader said.

The other reader was not as impressed: "Having read the recent post discussing the lack of equal media usage of 'left-wing groups' to match the profligate use of 'right-wing groups,' I was surprised to see the Lincoln Journal Star characterize the critics in this story as 'left-wing.' Further, the criticized group in question is given surprisingly deferential treatment. You may be thinking, 'Midwest paper — of course they skew conservative,' but that would be inaccurate. Lincoln, Neb., is a university town with a well-deserved reputation for sympathy with liberal cultural and political views. But I would concur that there is a substantial enough traditional religious community that a savvy editorial staff is unlikely to indulge in unfettered Kellerism."

Me? I'm going to be contrary and disagree with both readers. More in a moment, but first, the story's opening:

Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson said Wednesday his attendance at a meeting last month sponsored by a controversial Christian legal advocacy group was by invitation and not paid for with state money. 
Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian nonprofit organization, has the stated goal of advocating, training and funding on the issues of religious freedom, sanctity of life, and marriage and family. It has been criticized for taking aggressive stands against gay marriage and LGBTQ rights. 
People in left-leaning organizations have said the group's endgame is to have the law and the culture reflect its religious views, including weakening the separation of church and state. 
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke at the July meeting Peterson attended, but news organizations were not allowed to attend his talk or initially get a written version of his speech. 
It was published several days later, however, on a conservative media outlet, thefederalist.com. In the speech, Sessions talked about religious freedom, saying the "inside-the-beltway crowd has no idea how much good is being done in this country everyday by our faith communities. ... But the cultural climate has become less hospitable to people of faith and to religious belief." 
Sessions said: "Under this administration, religious Americans will be treated neither as an afterthought nor as a problem to be managed."
Peterson said he was asked to serve on a panel on federalism to talk about how specific cases affect states. The panel was moderated by attorney Hugh Hewitt, a conservative and Catholic MSNBC talk show host who comments on society, politics and media bias. 

My assessment:

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Nebraska newspaper overdoes it on 'injustice' faced by gay Catholic teacher

Nebraska newspaper overdoes it on 'injustice' faced by gay Catholic teacher

It appears that the Religion Newswriters Association has no members who live and work in the state of Nebraska right now. This might be a good time for a newspaper or two there to try hiring a pro on this beat.

Why do I bring this up?

Well, what he have here is another one of those all-to-common stories that's becoming so prevalent on the LGBT side of the religion beat these days. It's a classic example of the template currently being used over and over in mainstream newsrooms.

Start here: A gay teacher in a Catholic school is losing his job if he marries his partner. Supporters of the teacher are outraged. Articulate defenders of Catholic doctrine are either silent, absent or ignored (it's often hard to tell).

The Lincoln (Neb.) Journal-Star report is pretty predictable:

Students, parents and alumni of an Omaha Catholic high school have rallied behind a teacher who was told his contract would not be renewed if he marries his same-sex partner.
Supporters of Matthew Eledge, an English teacher and speech coach, took to social media Tuesday and thousands of people signed online petitions asking Skutt Catholic High School to reverse its decision.
Eledge and Elliot Dougherty were engaged in December, according to Kacie Hughes, a petition organizer and Eledge’s assistant speech coach.
When Eledge told school administrators about his marriage plans, Hughes said, Eledge was told he would not be invited back to teach in the fall, and if he told students he would be fired immediately. Eledge asked about the possibility of postponing the wedding so he could continue teaching but was told he would have to end the relationship, Hughes said.
Reached Tuesday, Eledge declined comment, as did the school and the Omaha Diocese.

Nebraska is not alone in this debate, as a similar story is playing out in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

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