immigration reform

WPost reports on pastor 'lighting into' Trump with Pence on front row, but basic question unanswered

WPost reports on pastor 'lighting into' Trump with Pence on front row, but basic question unanswered

These days, it's often difficult to tell what's supposed to be real news and what's simply clickbait and/or aggregation.

That's the case this week with a quasi-news story from The Washington Post that makes no attempt to hide its tabloid-esque approach.

I'm talking about a piece that ran with this not-so-subtle cry for page views:

Watch a pastor light into President Trump — with Vice President Pence sitting in the front pew

Um, OK.

By the way, I realize this is the second GetReligion post today related to Mike Pence. If you missed the first one (written by Godbeat legend Richard Ostling and focused on media coverage of the VP's faith), it's insightful and definitely worth your time.

But back to my musings: My frustration lies with the fact that the Post goes for the easy clickbait but fails to answer a basic question. More on that in a moment.

First, though, the Post's lede (which provides a few details before the paper goes into aggregation mode):

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Religious Trump reaction: RNS struggles to find a range of actual human voices

Religious Trump reaction: RNS struggles to find a range of actual human voices

When news spread that Donald Trump won the presidential election, I got the sense that the various elites -- cultural, political, mainstream media -- were reacting like Family Guy's Chris Griffin:  "Whaaaattt??"

The Religion News Service, at least, tried to gather responses from religious leaders, rather than have secular pundits opine about them. But that mechanical approach -- which tmatt likes to call post-Interview Journalism™ -- has weaknesses of its own.

It's not that RNS lacked effort. It compiled a long list of comments. A long, long list. Nearly 2,400 words, with 17 sources.

RNS also attempts some balance, backed up by numbers, as the top shows:

Some celebrated and congratulated the victor. Others prayed and called for unity. It was clear early on that evangelical Christians had been key to Donald Trump’s stunning upset.
Meanwhile, others including atheists and Muslims reacted in shock and vowed to defend against what one group termed “unconstitutional and undemocratic actions.”
According to exit polls, 81 percent of white evangelicals and born-again Christians cast their ballots for the reality TV star-turned-Republican presidential candidate.
It was a higher figure than voted for Mitt Romney (79 percent) in 2012, John McCain (73 percent) four years before that or George Bush (79 percent) in 2004.

From there, we get a smorgasbord of quotes. Here's a sample.

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In Bible Belt town split on immigration, passing glimpses of religious influence raise questions

In Bible Belt town split on immigration, passing glimpses of religious influence raise questions

As I mentioned in a recent post, Alabama ranks as the nation's second-most religious state after Mississippi, according to Gallup.

In a different post last year, I noted that Alabama's estimated 1.2 million Southern Baptists represent a quarter of the state's 4.8 million total residents. Overall, the state's number of evangelicals tops 2 million.

So yes, as I read an in-depth CNN story out today on an Alabama town split on immigration, I wondered what role faith would play in the text.

Here's the good news: The talented writer provides glimpses of religion that make it clear she understands its importance to the community.

Here's the bad news: Those glimpses are just that — glimpses. As in "a momentary or slight appearance," to quote one of the Dictionary.com definitions. More on those glimpses in a moment.

But first, some background: Overall, it's a nice story — fair and balanced on the immigration issue itself. The CNN piece even includes a scene where a resident watches headlines on Fox News, which made me chuckle. The journalist does an excellent job of interviewing a wide variety of sources, giving each a voice and helping her audience understand where everyone is coming from. 

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Pentecostal gap in that LATimes immigration reform story

There was an important interfaith gathering the other day in Los Angeles that allowed some highly symbolic religious leaders to make a faith-based appeal for immigration reform. As you would expect, The Los Angeles Times produced a short news story that focused on the basic facts. Local religious leaders unite for change in immigration law

Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders in Southern California hold vigil calling for a revamp in federal immigration laws.

As noted in the lede, the service attracted several of “Southern California’s most prominent religious leaders,” led by the local Catholic archbishop. The presence of a Catholic leader was par for the course, especially in this case:

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More vague evangelicals jump on immigration bandwagon

Last week, I complained about a front-page Tampa Bay Times story filled with broad generalizations about vague evangelicals advocating immigration reform.

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