RELIGIONNEWSVILLE, Cyberspace (GR) — In a podcast now available online, GetReligion contributor Bobby “Bible Belt” Ross admits dropping the ball in his recent critique of media coverage of the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.
Specifically, Ross says he somehow neglected to include The Associated Press in his roundup of major media covering the meeting of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.
Tmatt — a singular name that, like Oprah or Bono, needs no explanation — was not available for comment on possible repercussions. However, the GetReligion guru was said by sources to be contemplating possible disciplinary action, including making Ross count all the scare quotes in mainstream media coverage of religious liberty.
Seriously, when I posted last week on the Southern Baptist Convention coverage, I meant to include the AP. For one thing, the AP wire story is what many (most?) folks read in their local newspaper, either in print or online. For another, I criticized AP (with agreement from a few Godbeat pros) for failing to show up at the annual meeting two years ago. So it’s only fair that I recognize AP’s presence this time, right?
AP sent Nashville, Tenn.-based writer Travis Loller — whose beat includes religion, among specialties — to New Orleans, and Loller produced solid stories both on the Rev. Fred Luter’s election as the convention’s first African-American president and on the denomination’s passage of a resolution opposing the idea that same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue.
Besides highlighting those two major developments, Loller’s stories also included other important aspects of the meeting — some that other media either failed to catch or ignored. For example, Loller’s report on Luler’s election also noted:
Faced with declining membership, the SBC has been making efforts to appeal to a more diverse group of believers.
Delegates to the SBC annual meeting adopt voted to adopt an alternative name for churches that feel the “Southern Baptist” title could be a turn-off to potential believers.
Those who supported the optional name “Great Commission Baptists” argued it would help missionaries and church planters to reach more people for Christ.
The Great Commission refers to Jesus’s command to his apostles to go forth and make disciples of all nations. Delegates voted on Tuesday but the results were not announced until Wednesday morning. They approved the motion by 2,546 to 2,232.
Meanwhile, in the story on the same-sex marriage issue, Loller’s story reported:
Another resolution passed on Wednesday is intended to protect religious liberty. It includes a call for the U.S. Justice Department to cease efforts to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act and for the Obama administration to ensure that military personnel and chaplains can freely express their religious convictions about homosexuality.
It also condemns the administration’s mandate requiring religiously affiliated institutions, but not houses of worship, to provide contraceptive coverage for their employees.
Wait. Where are the “religious liberty” scare quotes? Anyway …
Nice job, AP.
As the earlier news alert hinted, host Todd Wilken and I talk about the Southern Baptist Convention coverage on this week’s “Crossroads.” We also discuss the Detroit Free Press’ recent vague treatment of “Christian missionaries.”
Warning: I try to pronounce a word with more than three syllables on the podcast, and my tongue gets all tied up. I’m sure it’s hilarious. So check it out.