Susan Hogan/Albach of the Chicago Sun-Times talks about what label she should use when identifying Catholics:
As a religion writer, I firmly believe that religious organizations are entitled to be identified by their official names. That’s why at every newspaper I’ve worked at, I’ve lobbied against the Associated Press stylebook when it comes to Catholics.
Instead of saying “Roman Catholic Church,” as the stylebook suggests, I’ve said “Catholic Church.” The exception has been when the “Roman” is necessary for clarification purposes – usually when ecumenical documents are involved.
One Catholic priest has a serious issue with the “Roman” addition:
“My crowd has been calling themselves ‘Catholic’ for 17 centuries,” he wrote. “The adjective ‘Roman’ added in the American context is a slur, sometimes unintentionally conveyed in the tone of the one using it. It hints that we are somehow foreign and perhaps subversive. It came into use when the ‘publics’ started to recite the Nicene Creed and their leaders had to explain that the ‘one, holy, catholic and apostolic church’ of the creed wasn’t us.”
I imagine the whole question of which label to use gets frustrating for reporters, especially when a group has a seemingly unlimited number of ways to refer to its “members.”
I remember being at a meeting once with other young, non-religious people. Someone asked us which label we preferred.
About half of us, myself included, said the term “atheist” fit us best. In second place was Humanist (or Secular Humanist).
No one was about to argue over which term was “better” or “more accurate,” but I know just about all of us would’ve at least flinched if someone used the other term to describe us…