race relations

'God made me black on purpose': Be sure to read Politico's exceptional profile of Sen. Tim Scott

'God made me black on purpose': Be sure to read Politico's exceptional profile of Sen. Tim Scott

Twitter has spoken: Tim Alberta's in-depth Politico Magazine story on U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., is a must-read. 

It's a fabulous profile. 

It's a powerful look at the most prominent black elected official in America today.

Amen. Amen. Amen.

For his part, Alberta — the magazine's chief political correspondent — tweeted that Scott is as complex and fascinating a character as he has met in politics." The journalist's exceptionally well-told story reflects that.

Now, about the faith angle: From the piece's title — "God made me black" — to the revealing details shared about Scott's religious journey, Politico does a nice job with that crucial element of what makes this influential senator tick. 

A big chunk of the compelling opening scenes:

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — At the end of Forest Avenue, a narrow artery slicing through blocks of muddy lots and decaying one-story homes, Tim Scott kicks at the gravel and waits. He had shared a table Saturday night with the world’s wealthiest man, Jeff Bezos, at the annual dinner of Washington’s Alfalfa Club, the ultra-exclusive gathering of the political and financial elite that began as a celebration of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s birthday. Now, it’s Monday morning and the junior senator from South Carolina is back home, in one of this challenged city’s most challenging neighborhoods, to get a haircut. The dramatic change of scenery doesn’t faze Scott, a man who straddles disparate universes with unusual ease. But he is not without powers of observation. As conspicuous as he was at the Alfalfa dinner—one of the few black faces in the Capital Hilton ballroom—I am all the more so here. “You know,” he says, leaning in, “you’re about to be like the third white dude ever inside this place.”
The Quick Service Barber Shop is the aesthetic pinnacle of Forest Avenue; its cream-colored exterior is dressed in red and blue paint announcing the proprietors and proclaiming Hebrews 12:14: “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” That’s easier said than done around these parts. There was a shooting inside the shop a few months back, Scott tells me; his friends urged him to find a new barber. The senator wouldn’t hear of it. Scott got his very first haircut here a half-century ago, courtesy of Charles Swint. His son, Charles Swint Jr.—a minister who took over the family business—is the only person Scott trusts with a pair of clippers. When his white Cadillac Escalade finally pulls up, Swint Jr., a small, salt-and-pepper-haired man wearing a dark three-piece suit, jumps out and grins at Scott: “Praise the Lord!”

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Infinitesimal fraction of LDS membership draws hot BuzzFeed play, without listicles or kittens

Infinitesimal fraction of LDS membership draws hot BuzzFeed play, without listicles or kittens

There are, according to the Mormon Newsroom website, 15.6 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide, as the group is officially known. In the United States, the same media-facing website says, there are 6.5 million LDS Church members.

But forget the millions of U.S.-based Mormons who do wonderful, creative (see: Sterling, Lindsey) and useful things in the world. To some journalism outlets, reporting that would be about as exciting as touting a Spotify playlist of Donny Osmond singles.

Instead, let's join BuzzFeed, the advocacy journalism, listicle-and-kitten picture website and look at maybe five LDS Church members, and their reasonably small Twitter followings (22,000 for the top person), for a touchstone on this organization.

Hint: the five Mormons on which they focus hold various "alt-right" beliefs, some of which are viewed by many people as racist. Seems fair, right?

If it doesn't seem fair, you're not alone. If it does seem like "clickbait," a term adhering to BuzzFeed with the tenacity of a Gulf Coast vacation timeshare salesman, welcome to the club.

The BuzzFeed report is titled "Meet The (Alt-Right) Mormons: Inside The Church's Vocal White Nationalist Wing." Diving in: 

Last week, an alt-right blogger who goes by the name Ayla had a bone to pick.
"Mormonism and Utah are the next target for cultural destruction," she wrote on her blog Nordic Sunrise, and the culprit is "black, ghetto culture."
Her comment came in a post titled "Mormon 'Rap' and the Destruction of White, Western, Mormon Culture." It was jarring; Mormons are known for their moderate positions on issues like immigration and diversity, famously putting them at odds with now-President Trump. Extreme movements such as the alt-right — which catapulted into the public consciousness on a wave of support for Trump, Pepe memes, and white nationalism — are anathema to many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Shooting 'devils': What beliefs drove the Baton Rouge police killer?

Shooting 'devils': What beliefs drove the Baton Rouge police killer?

While the Trumpification of the GOP held the attention of many mainstream media, some were probing the warped mind of Gavin Long, who shot three police officers in Baton Rouge before being shot dead himself. Their chilling discoveries are reported in well-crafted articles, especially in the Washington Post and the New York Times.

Here are some of the spiritual currents they found coursing through the killer's mind:

* He returned from a visit to Africa saying that fasting and abstaining from sex, activated his pineal gland and "opened a third eye of wisdom."

* He began calling himself Ausar Setepenra, a reference to two Egyptian gods.

* He claimed membership in a group of African Americans who say they're a "sovereign Native American tribe."

* The world is "run by devils," in his view.

Of the articles, the Post's -- with six reporters writing 1,400 words -- is the most ambitious. It tries to track his movements over his last few weeks:

Please respect our Commenting Policy

In #Ferguson, a tale of two churches -- one white, one black

In #Ferguson, a tale of two churches -- one white, one black

The news in Ferguson, Mo., goes on and on and on.

I've highlighted coverage of the religion angle here and here, and I'll do so again in this post.

So far, I've found Twitter the best means to keep up with all the faith stories (by the way, follow all the GetReligionistas). 

Godbeat pro Lilly A. Fowler of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch remains on the scene, and Eric Marrapodi of CNN "Belief Blog" fame is there, too.

Former Post-Dispatch religion writer Tim Townsend tweeted a link to a Washington Post story that I found particularly compelling.

The Post story contrasts the stark differences Sunday at a white church sympathetic to the white police officer who shot Michael Brown and a black church mourning the young black man's death.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

KKK hoods, 'two angels' and a frustrating ghost

It’s a “where are they now” story that I was intrigued to read, since I had missed the first installment back in 1996. The 2013 update promised drama, forgiveness, lessons learned and perhaps racial reconciliation. Oh, and as a bonus: a faith element.

Please respect our Commenting Policy