Trump administration

What happened to ObamaCare and trans rights? Let's look at that headline in a mirror

What happened to ObamaCare and trans rights? Let's look at that headline in a mirror

Headlines are really hard to write, and I say that as someone whose first full-time journalism job was on a copy desk in a daily newspaper.

If you think that it’s hard to write news stories that offer some sense of fairness and balance on complicated issues, you should try doing the same thing in a headline — with punch and maybe even a few terms that appeal to search engines. Copy editors have nightmares about being asked to write big, bold one- or two-column headlines for hot stories on A1 (back when there was such a thing as A1 and it mattered).

So I rarely respond when readers send me angry notes about headlines. But this time I will make an exception. This one begs for what your GetReligionistas have long called the “mirror image” treatment. What would the headline look like if you flipped it around?

The headline at The Hill proclaims: “Federal judge overturns ObamaCare transgender protections.”

That led to this email from a GetReligion reader:

OK, I guess that's one way to look at it. But how about this way: "Federal judge rules that doctors can't be forced to violate their consciences"?

Which is more accurate? I would argue the latter since the rule wasn't really about "protections" since there are doctors willing to do the surgeries and prescribe the medications.

That’s a good point — that reference to pro-LGBTQ doctors and networks being willing to back the trans positions on these issues. Is this a case in which doctors with traditional religious beliefs can, or should, be forced to lose their jobs?

What would that headline look like when viewed in a mirror?

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Three key facts about Trump administration allowing religious freedom for S.C. foster care provider

Three key facts about Trump administration allowing religious freedom for S.C. foster care provider

Chelsea Clinton, daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton, has 2.4 million Twitter followers.

So when the former first daughter tweets, what she says gets attention — be it announcing her pregnancy with a third child or commenting on a news story about a faith-based foster care agency in South Carolina.

I’m certain that Kelsey Dallas, religion writer for the Deseret News in Salt Lake City, didn’t mind the extra clicks that Clinton’s tweet generated for her coverage of a Trump administration decision involving religious freedom — or religious discrimination, depending on one’s perspective.

The lede from Dallas:

The Trump administration on Wednesday made a decision in support of a faith-based foster care agency in South Carolina, announcing that religious organizations are protected by federal religious freedom law and can receive government money even when they won't serve LGBT or non-Christian couples.

"Faith-based organizations that provide foster care services not only perform a great service for their communities, they are exercising a legally protected right to practice their faith through good works. Our federal agency should not — and, under the laws adopted by Congress, cannot — drive faith-motivated foster care providers out of the business of serving children without a compelling government interest," explained a statement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Miracle Hill Ministries, a Christian organization based in Greenville, had been at risk of having to close its foster care program or adjust its screening process for prospective foster parents if HHS didn't grant it a waiver to nondiscrimination law. Miracle Hill, like many conservative, religious foster care agencies, has been under fire for the last year for refusing to work with LGBT couples for religious reasons.

The Trump administration's decision, although long-expected, sparked an outcry among liberal legal activists, who argue that religious freedom shouldn't protect discrimination.

Like the Deseret News, the Washington Post offered a factual, balanced report on the decision, opening its story like this:

The Trump administration said Wednesday it was granting a Christian ministry in South Carolina permission to participate in the federally funded foster-care program, even though the group will work only with Christian families.

The long-standing policy of Miracle Hill Ministries of Greenville violates a regulation, put into place in the closing days of the Obama administration, that bars discrimination on the basis of religion by groups receiving money from the Department of Health and Human Services.

About a year ago, the South Carolina Department of Social Services learned of Miracle Hill’s policy, notified the group it was in violation of federal law and downgraded it to a provisional license. Gov. Henry McMaster (R) then asked HHS for a waiver.

On Wednesday, HHS said it would grant the waiver, days before the group’s provisional license was set to expire. The department argued that the Obama-era regulation was ill-conceived and that some of its requirements “are not reflected” in the underlying statute.

In reading a variety of news accounts of the decision — including this one by the The Associated Press —  I was struck by certain details that seem important but weren’t reflected in every story.

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