Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

Associated Press hits the high points — just the high points — in story on religion of 2020 Democrats

Associated Press hits the high points — just the high points — in story on religion of 2020 Democrats

Here’s your journalistic challenge: Cover the religion of the leading Democratic presidential candidates. (Some good advice here.)

Sound easy enough?

OK, let’s up the ante a bit: Meet the above challenge — and keep your story to roughly 1,000 words.

Wait, what!?

Now, you have a pretty good idea of what it’s like to be a reporter for The Associated Press, a global news organization that reaches billions and keeps most stories between 300 and 500 words.

To merit 1,000 words in the AP universe, a subject matter must be deemed extremely important. Such is the case with the wire service’s overview this week on Democrats embracing faith in the 2020 campaign. Still, given the number of candidates, that length doesn’t leave much room to do anything but hit the basics on any of the candidates.

For those who paying close attention to the race, the anecdote at the top of AP’s report will sound familiar:

WASHINGTON (AP) — When 10 Democratic presidential candidates were pressed on immigration policy during their recent debate, Pete Buttigieg took his answer in an unexpected direction: He turned the question into a matter of faith.

Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, accused Republicans who claim to support Christian values of hypocrisy for backing policies separating children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border. The GOP, he declared, “has lost all claim to ever use religious language again.”

It was a striking moment that highlighted an evolution in the way Democrats are talking about faith in the 2020 campaign. While Republicans have been more inclined to weave faith into their rhetoric, particularly since the rise of the evangelical right in the 1980s, several current Democratic White House hopefuls are explicitly linking their views on policy to religious values. The shift signals a belief that their party’s eventual nominee has a chance to win over some religious voters who may be turned off by President Donald Trump’s abrasive rhetoric and questions about his character.

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What makes a GetReligion post go viral? Wish I knew, but these were my Top 10 posts of 2017

What makes a GetReligion post go viral? Wish I knew, but these were my Top 10 posts of 2017

Happy New Year!

As we plunge into 2018, I'm excited about another year of writing for GetReligion. At this journalism-focused website, we highlight both positive and negative examples of mainstream reporting on religion news. 

I write four posts a week (including the all-new "Friday Five"). That adds up to 200 times a year that I offer my insights and opinions. Some of my posts go viral on social media. Others, um, do not. 

These were my 10 most-clicked posts of 2017:

10. Bravo! Washington Post religion writer delves masterfully into the faith of Sarah Huckabee Sanders

9. Oh no, look what Trump's done: He's appointed someone to Cabinet who ONCE PRAYED

8. Chicago Tribune reporting on Wheaton College hazing incident seems solid, but pay close attention

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Friday Five: A reindeer's lament, Jessica Hahn, Democratic faith, Bob Dylan's Jesus and more

Friday Five: A reindeer's lament, Jessica Hahn, Democratic faith, Bob Dylan's Jesus and more

Welcome to the Merry Christmas edition of the Friday Five!

Enjoy the video with the holiday classic "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer."

You may not be aware that there's a religion angle (isn't there always?) on the unfortunate tragedy with Grandma. According to veteran religion writer Bob Smietana, the reindeer wrote an apology. And Smietana penned a song about it. 

By all means, listen to the reindeer's lament.

Back to the "Five":

1. Religion story of the week: Charlotte Observer religion writer Tim Funk interviews Jessica Hahn, the woman at the center of disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker's fall 30 years ago. I commented on Funk's intriguing story in a GetReligion post earlier this week.

Bakker trivia and plug at the same time! Who can name the GetReligionista who took the original Charlotte newsroom anonymous call on this topic? It included this statement: "Just remember this name -- Jessica Hahn."

2. Most popular GetReligion post: My analysis titled "Trump + Gillibrand + faith: 'Why is religion only talked about when reporters profile Republicans?'" was our No. 1 post of the week. My thanks to Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons for asking the question that sparked the post and to former GetReligion contributor Mollie Hemingway (among others), who shared it on social media.

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Trump + Gillibrand + faith: 'Why is religion only talked about when reporters profile Republicans?'

Trump + Gillibrand + faith: 'Why is religion only talked about when reporters profile Republicans?'

Did you happen to hear where Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was last week when President Trump posted a tweet about her that the president's critics labeled "sexually suggestive and demeaning?"

Yep, that's right: The New York Democrat was at a bipartisan Bible study.

So what are the odds that the New York Times political writers who profiled Gillibrand in Sunday's newspaper — in a lengthy A-section piece tied to the president's kerfuffle with the senator — delved into her faith?

Hint: The Times makes passing reference to the aforementioned Bible study. 

But any actual consideration of Gillibrand's faith? Not so much. (Interestingly enough, the profile does point to the senator's propensity to curse "freely in public venues."

I first became aware of Gillibrand's participation in the regular Bible study when I did a Religion News Service profile of Sen. James Lankford earlier this year. I asked the Oklahoma Republican's team for the names of Democrats involved in the study. They put me in touch with Gillibrand's office.

I visited with Gillibrand about Lankford and her own faith, and a portion of that interview ended up in my story:

“He’s definitely sincere about his faith, and it’s absolutely a guidepost in his public service,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., a Roman Catholic who joins a weekly bipartisan Bible study with Lankford and other senators.

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