Wrapping up 2017: The Atlantic looks at big religion themes in Trump's foreign policy

Wrapping up 2017: The Atlantic looks at big religion themes in Trump's foreign policy

As always, the GetReligion team slows down a bit during the Holiday season (broadly defined).

We don't vanish. We don't stop reading or paying attention to our email. But we do have other things to do, like travel and welcoming guests (and in my case, celebrating a 40th wedding anniversary).

One thing we will be doing in the next week or so is noting some of the interesting 2017 yearender features focusing on religion-news events and trends. I don't know if we will do another "Parade of Yearenders" like last year, but we'll give you a few things to read.

We have already started in recent weeks. If you haven't tried one of our "Crossroads" podcasts, click here and give this one a try -- "Looking at top stories of 2017: Sometimes it seems like religion haunts everything." That post includes this years Top 10 stories from the Religion News Association, as well as my own take on the year's events in an "On Religion" column for the Universal syndicate. Bobby Ross, Jr., also pointed to the RNA poll here.

It has, so far, been easy to spot a trend among the yearenders. Rather than doing lists of the major events, more and more journalists are producing lists of the top stories at their own websites (the kind of thing GetReligion does on this website's anniversary every year). That's interesting, and valid, but I always enjoyed contrasting the Top 10 news lists.

In other words: Hint, hint. Please send us URLS you spot for yearender pieces and the newsier the better. Top 10 lists? Yes, please.

It would be impossible to sum up the religion-news coverage in the year without mentioning the work of Emma Green at The Atlantic. While her work is written in an analysis style suited to magazine features, during 2017 she often focused on important religion-news topics -- especially church-state conflicts -- before hard-news operations took them on. Here's how I described that process back in September:

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Hire more religion reporters — yes! — and other takeaways from that helpful podcast on the Godbeat

Hire more religion reporters — yes! — and other takeaways from that helpful podcast on the Godbeat

It's the talk of the Godbeat — that small fraternity of journalists who cover religion news.

I'm referring to a podcast interview that Sandi Villarreal‏, chief digital officer for Sojourners, did with two writers from The Atlantic.

Here's a description of the 33-minute discussion:

On today's episode, our web editor sits down with Emma Green and McKay Coppins — both political reporters (with a religion bent) for The Atlantic — to chat about the state of religion reporting in mainstream media and how The Atlantic approaches the Godbeat. We talk about the challenges and opportunities, we break some news, and we give a hefty plug for the Religion News Association.

Both of those Atlantic writers' names will sound familiar to news consumers who follow the Godbeat closely. Some GetReligion readers may recall that Coppins, who is Mormon, formerly worked for Buzzfeed. Just recently, I praised Green's story on two Mississippi college students who decided to join the Islamic State terrorist group as a "must read." (Of course, GR has offered constructive criticism, too, for The Atlantic.)

Among the fans of this podcast (which seems almost GetReligion-esque): Bob Smietana, the veteran religion writer and former president of the Religion News Association.

Speaking of Smietana, he was involved in his own GR-like podcast just recently:

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Strategic SBC silence: Thinking about Donald Trump, 'The Benedict Option' and more

Strategic SBC silence: Thinking about Donald Trump, 'The Benedict Option' and more

Hello fellow religion writers.

Hello fellow religion-news junkies.

Have you spent a good part of this past week listening to the loud and potentially strategic silence in corners of cyberspace that normally buzz with Southern Baptist Convention news and commentary? Have you been paying close attention to see when a certain feed on Twitter will return to action?

Did you notice, however, the interesting thoughts and comments on a certain post by Dwight McKissic at the SBC Voices website? That would be the one with this headline:

Biographical Reflections and Ruminations on the SBC and Responses to the Graham-Moore Controversy

We are, of course, talking about the uncertainty that remains after the much-discussed meeting between the Rev. Russell Moore, the SBC's most prominent voice in Washington, D.C., and the Rev. Frank Page, leader of the convention's executive committee ("About the Washington Post report on SBC's Russell Moore: It's best to simply say, 'Read carefully' "). The two men released a "peace pipe" statement afterwards and then the silence descended over SBC land.

All of this provided the hook for this past week's "Crossroads" podcast (click here to tune that in). The goal in this conversation, however, was to look at the wider themes seen in this conflict, the political and generational conflicts that are seen in many religious bodies right now, not just in America's largest Protestant flock.

With that in mind, read this passage this passage in that McKissic post, which addresses the reality that much of the SBC fighting about Moore and his work is, in reality, another sign of conflicts in American evangelicalism linked to -- and I say this carefully -- faith in Donald Trump and in his ability to keep promises. The opening reference to "Biblical Inerrancy" refers to the doctrinal fight at the heart of the great SBC civil war that began in the late 1970s.

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Words to think about: Al Mohler asks who has the power to define 'truth' in this media age

Words to think about: Al Mohler asks who has the power to define 'truth' in this media age

During the days since The Washington Post published religion-beat pro Sarah Pulliam Bailey's much discussed essay, "Evangelicals, your attacks on ‘the media’ are getting dangerous," several readers have sent us links to published responses online.

I have declined to post several of them because I don't want to point readers toward often nasty, straw-men attacks on (a) the skills, and even the Christian faith, of a highly talented and respected former colleague and (b) my own profession as a mainstream-media journalist.

Obviously, GetReligion is known for taking shots at organizations in the mainstream media that, as we say, "just don't get religion" (Hello Dean Baquet). There is a difference, however, between attacking, and documenting, case-studies of media abuse and simply saying (to wax theological for a moment) that an entire profession/vocation is Satanic, somehow, and certainly not part of God's good creation.

One of my few criticisms of Sarah's essay here at GetReligion was that I thought it was a bit soft on the fact that many religious believers, not just evangelical Protestants, have been prejudiced against journalism for a long, long time (not just during the Donald Trump melodrama) and that includes academic elites who simply think journalism is a shoddy, shallow line of work. Truth be told, religious readers in lots of academic and denominational buildings need to realize that they are part of the problem, when it comes to a lack of intellectual and cultural diversity in American newsrooms.

But this brings me to an essay responding to Sarah that is worth serious thought, offered by the Rev. Al Mohler, a podcasting commentary star who is also president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Actually, this is an edited transcript of the Dec. 9 episode of his "The Briefing" podcast, which ran with this title: "The Real Consequences of Fake News: Why Evangelicals Should Be Concerned With The Truth."

Mohler opens with some comments on the Bailey text. Let's listen in to that process, with Sarah's quotes in italics:

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