This NY Times Easter correction is a doozie

The reporter who passed this one along to us wrote, simply:

they just make it real easy for you guys, don’t they?

Another reporter on Twitter put it:

That NYT correction has to be throwing @GetReligion HQ into all-hands-on-deck mode. “I need EVERYONE ON THIS NOW!”

Sadly, we’ve had such reason to be down on general religion coverage in recent weeks, that I’m not even sure anyone is surprised by this.

But still. But still.

The New York Times published a fairly straightforward story about Pope Francis’ first Urbi et Orbi message. With this paragraph:

Easter is the celebration of the resurrection into heaven of Jesus, three days after he was crucified, the premise for the Christian belief in an everlasting life. In urging peace, Francis called on Jesus to ”change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace.”

Yes, the professionals at the New York Times are confused about what Easter marks. If you were satirizing the poor state of the Grey Lady’s understanding of religion, this would seem over-the-top. And yet it’s real. My favorite part is the correction to the piece — yes, it was corrected to drop the “into heaven” and replace it with “from the dead.” The correction is:

An earlier version of this article mischaracterized the Christian holiday of Easter. It is the celebration of Jesus’s resurrection from the dead, not his resurrection into heaven.

To be clear, not only is Easter not about Jesus’ “resurrection into heaven,” Christians don’t believe Jesus “resurrected into heaven” period. There are some ancient creeds that could be quickly accessed (for those who have never heard them) that explain all this. Those creeds confess Christ’s ascension into heaven, not “resurrection.”

Since it’s Opening Day, I will share this fake correction I saw elsewhere:

In last Thursday’s story, “Americans excited to visit ‘ball parks,’” the sport of baseball was repeatedly spelled bayspall. The number of ‘bases’ was given as five; the correct number is three. “Home plate” is a marker embedded in the ground, not a trophy awarded to the winner of the World Series. “Babe” Ruth was the popular nickname of George Herman Ruth Jr. (1895–1948), generally regarded the greatest baseballer of the early twentieth century, and not the African-American mistress of Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter F. O’Malley as stated in the article. The Times regrets the errors.

Wait, that is a fake correction, right?

Anyway, happy Easter Monday and Opening Day, to those who celebrate. And for our readers from the New York Times, here’s a link to the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed. These confessional creeds explain the basics of Christianity and can be a useful resource for people covering Christians.

Empty tomb image via Shutterstock.

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  • mollie

    John Podhoretz writes:
    The correction here is beyond imagining, and a mere foreshadowing of the ignorance to come.

  • Will

    Remember, when the Times mentioned the revived WNCN playing the “Resurrection” passage from Bach’s B Minor Mass, it was felt necessary to inform readers that “the Resurrection section follows the Crucifixion section.”

  • James

    April fool!

  • northcoast

    Another coffee all over the monitor moment!

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    The NY Times and its wholly owned little sister (The Boston Globe) must be in a race to see which can advertise the most ignorance with regard to religion.
    Upon Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s return to Boston from the conclave in Rome the Globe ran a story that included these two howlers:
    First the Globe writer referred to Cardinal Sean as “a Capuchin friar of the Jesuit order.” Then she described St. Francis as “the heralded priest.” (Except that he was a deacon.”)

  • Eidolon

    I would disagree with Christ’s resurrection being “the premise for the Christian belief in an everlasting life” as well. The Jews, or at least some sects among the Jews, had long believed in a resurrection of the dead. There’s no real mention of Heaven in the Old Testament, but there is a conception that the faithful will be resurrected in some form. Some may take the idea figuratively as referring to the nation of Israel, but there are several passages which can be understood differently in a New Testament context. As well, Christ criticizes the Sadducees for believing that those who had died were gone, i.e. for not believing in an afterlife already (Matthew 22:32). As such I would argue that the premise for the Christian belief in an everlasting life is that background, which is expanded on by Jesus and the rest of the New Testament.

    • Karen

      Well said. Thanks for adding that.

  • Troy Jones

    There is an increased willingness of people to comment from ignorance and a ho hum attitude about what are essentially offenses against the truth. And when it infects sources of information like the NYT, it is an attack on a fundamental foundation of human existence- Truth.

    As a person involved in many public and private entities, my most common “contribution” is to say “that isn’t true.” The response I get is either:

    1) “According to you” ss if Truth is relative, individual, or subject to a majority vote. Or,

    2) When corrected, a shrug and moving on yet still holding a position grounded in the untruth.

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    • KenCamp

      Was that John THE BAPTIST at the foot of the cross whom Raphael painted holding his head in the crook of his elbow?

      • Karen

        It is a mistake to expect historic Christian iconography, which follows theological, not merely historical, rules for its depictions, to be making completely literal historical statements with what is painted. I could be mistaken because most church icons of the crucifixion include Mary and the Apostle John, but it is possible Raphael was following some of the earlier iconographic Christian traditions and that John the Baptist’s presence at the Cross in his painting is there to indicate that what Christ was doing on the Cross fulfilled the Old Covenant as well as establishing the New (as well as implying that John, the Baptist, though he died, was yet alive and still a witness to the saving events of the gospel, Hebrews 12:1–as in the “communion of the saints” also confessed in the ancient Creeds of Christianity). Of course, this is an aspect of their own history that most modern Christians are not aware of, so I don’t suppose we could expect secular journalists to do better.

        • Karen

          Sorry, this should have appeared as a “reply” to KenCamp’s comment about Raphael’s painting.

  • John M.

    Go ahead and strike the NYT as the newspaper of record for the United States. This is just an unbelievable biff.

    -John

  • fakebenbernanke

    CBS, clearly embarrassed to be No. 2 in Christian faith ignorance, ran a segment on CBS Sunday Morning in which Martha Teichner stated confidently that John THE BAPTIST stood at the foot of the cross with Mary. That should get some kind of honorable mention here.

  • John M.

    Not being able to disambiguate the two main New Testament Johns is run-of-the-mill Biblical ignorance. Not knowing why there’s Easter is an error unworthy of a student-run university daily newspaper.

    -John

  • Mattk

    I am surprised soneone with so little knowledge of the dominant religion in America could be hired at any newspaper.

  • Jeffrey Weiss

    Even Homer nods, as the saying goes, and even LeBron tosses the occasional airball. I’d not be quite so fast to dump the NYT for what is a bonehead mistake. For those of you of a particular religious tilt: It’s a human institution and all such are inevitably fallen, yes? Even in these reduced times, I’d put the Times record of accuracy up against most of the rest of the world. Surely tens of thousands of facts a day. In this case, the story showed up on a holiday, of course, where the editing crew is likely skeletal. People who really know Easter probably weren’t working. That’s not an excuse, of course. It’s a major unforced error.

  • Joshua

    Ok, I understand the error and the argument of how egregious the difference in meanings are, but … call me crazy, I don’t understand the effusive, scornful finger-pointing hoopla over it. It’s not a religious newspaper, and errors happen.

    And who knows … maybe this error and its subsequent correction have sparked interest in readers who previously had no inclination to know Jesus. Right?

    • Eidolon

      One thing to remember is that the reporter was on the Vatican beat in Rome. So this is a guy who is trusted to report on Catholicism for the NYT, and he doesn’t even understand one of the two biggest holidays of the Christian calendar.

      The other thing is that there are, supposedly at least, many layers of editors protecting the readership from egregious mistakes. The implication, then, is that neither the religion reporter nor any of the editors knew what Easter is, and none of them spent 10 seconds with Google to find out before confidently asserting things to their readers.

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  • Chad Whitacre

    The Apostles’ Creed link is bad.

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