San Diego Union Tribune

Friday Five: Christians + free press, John Allen Chau, exorcisms, dope pastor, foster care crisis

Friday Five: Christians + free press, John Allen Chau, exorcisms, dope pastor, foster care crisis

Is it possible to love Jesus and journalism?

Count me among those who do.

As such, I can’t help but endorse Daniel Darling’s column for Religion News Service this week on “Why Christians should support a free press.”

Darling, vice president of communications for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, writes:

Restoring faith in our media institutions is a shared responsibility. Christians should not only see the value of a free press but should support robust reporting, even journalism that reveals the misdeeds and sins in our own communities. Transparency doesn’t hurt the advance of the gospel. After all, the death and resurrection of Christ lay bare the gritty reality of every human heart.

In other words, a newspaper article cannot reveal anything about us that God doesn’t already know.

Meanwhile, the media could learn from some of the criticism of consumers. Too often, in our day, it seems that an undercurrent of bias exists against Christian ideals, even in subtle ways in which stories are reported or given the weight of breaking news or national importance. Too often journalists, especially on social media, seem to cheerlead rather than report.

Amen and amen.

Now, let’s dive into the Friday Five:

1. Religion story of the week: For the second week in a row, the death of American missionary John Allen Chau occupies this space. I’ll echo my GetReligion colleague Julia Duin, who said earlier this week that she “figured the story would be just a blip in the daily news flow.”

Some of the notable mainstream press coverage since Duin’s post includes NPR religion and belief correspondent Tom Gjelten’s piece titled “Killing Of American Missionary Ignites Debate Over How To Evangelize” and RNS’ in-depth report (by national correspondents Emily McFarlan Miller and Jack Jenkins) on the same subject.

But some of the must-read material on Chau’s death has come not in the form of news stories but rather first-person opinion pieces. Look for some insightful analysis of that in a think-piece post coming this weekend from GetReligion editor Terry Mattingly.

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Why are most media MIA on reporting on California's anti gay-conversion bill?

Why are most media MIA on reporting on California's anti gay-conversion bill?

Gay conversion therapy is under fire these days and not the least in California, where the State Assembly has passed a bill banning any books promoting it.

I’d thought book banning had gone out of fashion some time ago, but not when the cause is efforts to change sexual behavior from bi or gay to hetero. What’s surprised me about this new law is not so much conservative opposition to it, but the paucity of coverage in the mainstream press.

As Teen Vogue tells us, the bill will make California the first state to ban the practice and, here is the hard part, even published materials linked to the subject.

I first heard of it while scanning the San Diego Union Tribune’s web site where I came upon this:

A debunked claim making the rounds in recent weeks -- that a new California bill would prohibit the sale of the Bible in the state -- continues to spread, especially on social media, despite reports from Politifact and Snopes explaining why it’s untrue.

Taking its turn in America’s culture wars is Assembly Bill 2943, which proposes to set strict restrictions on services to change a person’s sexual orientation, also known as “gay conversation therapy.” Current state law prohibits “sexual orientation change efforts” or SOCE for children under the age of 18, but AB 2943 would extend the ban to any person of any age and it would prohibit the advertising or sale of SOCE goods and services in the state, Snopes reported.

AB 2943 has passed in the assembly and is awaiting a vote in the state senate.

The Union-Trib needs to upgrade its copyediting, as it’s “gay conversion therapy,” not “gay conversation therapy." Meanwhile, misspellings aside, what’s a reporter doing quoting Snopes instead of doing the homework himself?

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Who is Father Rodgers? San Diego Tribune doesn't ask, even after he pickets a church

Who is Father Rodgers? San Diego Tribune doesn't ask, even after he pickets a church

Father Rodgers, who are you?

He's a Catholic priest, if you go by some of his latest coverage, picketing a church over a voters' guide. But what kind of Catholic? Some media don’t seem to ask further.

And it matters.

Take the San Diego Union Tribune, which wrote up the protest:

A Catholic priest and handful of picketers gathered outside an Old Town Catholic church Saturday to protest church messages linking presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to Satan and warning that voting Democrat is a mortal sin.
Father Dermot Rodgers of St. Peter of Rome Roman Catholic Mission in Allied Gardens wore a priest’s robe and held a hand-lettered sign saying, "Separation of Church and State."
He and four like-minded men and women, including two of his parishoners, stood in front of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church on San Diego Avenue amid church-goers and puzzled tourists.
They sparked spirited sidewalk debate on whether a flyer inserted in a bulletin at the church last month should have taken a political position that "It is a mortal sin to vote Democrat" and anyone who died in that state would immediately "descend into hell."

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