If you are of a certain age, as I am, and you grew up deep in the heavily Protestant Bible Belt, like I did, you can probably remember running into some people way back when who — to be blunt about it — used to draw a verbal line of distinction between people who were “Christians” and those who were “Catholics.”
It’s hard to imagine that now, isn’t it? This is especially true after the admiration that so many evangelicals and other conservative Protestants openly poured out on the Blessed Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI in recent decades.
Truth is, I rarely ever hear that kind of talk anymore, no matter where you find conservative Protestants gathered. When I do hear it, other Protestants quickly leap to the defense of the Catholics who are listed as, well, non-Christians.
That’s why I was stunned when a faithful GetReligion reader, and religion-beat pro, sent me the following Associated Press story about the tragic shootings in Overland Park, Kansas. I am sure most of our readers have seen these stories by now, but here is the top of the report for context:
Never one to keep his hatred to himself, Frazier Glenn Cross for decades sought out any soapbox to espouse his white-supremacist beliefs, twice running for federal office with campaigns steeped in anti-Semitism.
Yet there’s scant evidence the Army veteran and retired trucker with Ku Klux Klan links ever resorted to violence before Sunday, when authorities say Cross — armed with a shotgun and pistol — opened fire outside two Jewish sites near Kansas City. None of the three people killed turned out to be Jewish.
The 73-year-old, who shouted a Nazi slogan at television cameras when arrested minutes later, is jailed awaiting charges that investigators said could come as early as Tuesday. At some point, a federal grand jury is expected to review the slayings, which investigators now deem a hate crime.
Investigators are, of course, considering calling this a hate crime because the shooter’s motives seemed clear, in light of reports that the alleged gunman was heard yelling “heil Hitler!” as he was arrested. Some witnesses said he asked people he encountered during his rampage if they were Jewish.
Nevertheless, the people killed were not Jews, which adds a layer of complications to the telling of this tragic story.
This brings us to the passage spotted by the reader:
In Cross’ southwestern Missouri hometown Monday, most locals approached by the AP waved off the opportunity to discuss the man authorities suspect killed 69-year-old Dr. William Lewis Corporon and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City. Both were Christians killed moments before Terri LaManno — a 53-year-old Catholic occupational therapist and mother of two — was gunned down outside a Jewish retirement complex where she was visiting her mother.
Did you catch that?
So two of the victims were “Christians” and the third was “Catholic.” Say what?
No, it would be one thing if this AP report had said that the victims included a Baptist, a Pentecostal believer and a Catholic. But how did this reference to two “Christians” and one “Catholic” make it into print? That would be three victims who were Christians, with two of them apparently being Protestants and one a Catholic.
Come on AP copy desk: Someone get this corrected and quick.