Happy Easter to you, too

easter_lilyjpgI will not see the dead-tree-pulp edition of the Washington Post Sunday edition until tomorrow, since it is delivered at my office on Capitol Hill.

However, a reader who lives in the district sent the following comment. Can this possibly be true?

I saw that GetReligion was looking for Easter coverage. I opened my Washington Post this morning to find not one mention of the holiday anywhere on the front page.

Help us out, GetReligion readers who live inside the DC Beltway. Is this true? Is A1 an Easter-free zone? Not even feature art?

Of course, the online edition’s “front page” does contain a few Easter references, although even the live coverage the First Family’s safe trip to Easter services at St. John’s Episcopal (“Church of the Presidents) across the street is run as a kind of visual follow-up story to the hard-hitting coverage of the “First Puppy” issue. You could also read the “On Faith” feature casting familiar doubts on the historical foundations of the Christian faith, a form of essay that we will surely see linked to major holidays in other faiths — especially Islam — in the near future.

With the safe — in every sense of the word — visit to St. John’s Episcopal, scribes in the mainstream press can now return to the vital issue of whether the First Family will ever join a local congregation. That was one of the official pre-Easter features for this year in several newspapers. It is fun to contrast the Washington Times story and the New York Times story.

In the latter, we do get this nice, punchy, highly political summary:

… (The) president’s spiritual quest has also revived the awkward questions that often simmer in a city where blacks and whites, rich and poor still live in largely separate worlds: Will the nation’s first black president join a predominantly black church or a predominantly white one? Will he pray in a wealthy community or in a neighborhood that is less prosperous? …

Mr. Obama’s aides have reached out to several churches, including Nineteenth Street Baptist and Peoples Congregational United Church of Christ, which both have middle-class black congregations and are in predominantly black, mixed-income neighborhoods rarely frequented by American presidents. They have also contacted Calvary Baptist Church and National City Christian Church, multiracial churches closer to the White House. Pastors at both churches have written to the Obamas. The Rev. Amy Butler of Calvary Baptist posted her invitation on her blog.

As you would expect, there are doctrinal and cultural considerations hidden between the lines and both of these stories tip-toe around them. It would be natural for President Obama to go to one of the two liberal mainline churches that offer a theological approach similar to the one he embraced in Chicago — which would be the United Church of Christ congregation or the one affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). If the family joined one of the city’s most prominent, powerful African-American churches, that could lead to symbolic clashes on hot-button social issues.

So stay tuned. There’s a good chance that we’ll see coverage of Pope Benedict XVI’s homily for Easter, tomorrow. Otherwise, it seems that Easter was a bit of a dud this year for the Washington Post.

P.S. Hey, the Post did offer – on B7 – the advance text of the Easter sermon by Bishop Paul S. Loverde of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington. Enjoy.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Chris Bolinger

    The URL for the On Faith “feature” buttresses my contention that, if you treat Newsweek as outside the MSM, then you need to treat everything from the WaPost Group as outside the MSM. No apple falls far from that tree.

  • Dan Crawford

    Check the Internet Monk’s rather droll essay on CNN’s Easter coverage – as one commenter wrote: “Too true to be funny.”

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    I assume that would be this one?


  • Martha

    Actually, I thought it was a rather quiet Easter, religion-bashing wise.

    No lost Gospels turning up? No ossuaries? No genuine archaeologist-certified mummy of Jesus? Not even a ‘reputable Biblical scholar says the Apostles were spaced-out on magic mushrooms’ piece?

    Frankly, I was disappointed ;-)

  • Jack Perry

    The lost gospel of Judas turned up (again) at my university’s student newspaper. This is in the heart of the Bible Belt, so they’re a little behind, I guess. I don’t think I’ll want to read the letters to the editor section next week.

  • joe

    I noticed the same lack of coverage in the Philadelphia Inquirer. There were no articles about Good Friday nor Holy Week.

  • Peggy

    Interesting post. I just watched a Fr. Benedict Greoschel talk on Easter last night on EWTN. [I don't know if it was for this year or a few years old program, however.] In any case. Fr. Groeschel brought up the very issue of the NYT having no Easter coverage one year. He wrote a letter to the publisher and many months later received a reply saying they’d do better next year. The next year came: nothing.