Anti-Semitism and the ‘intactivists’

I can’t imagine that a month ago many reporters thought one of the stories that would be grabbing a lot of attention would be efforts to criminalize the circumcision of a male minor. But a voter initiative qualified for the November ballot in San Francisco, and suddenly a lot of people seem obsessed with a little bit of skin.

I’ve yet to see an anti-circumcision story that is, ehem, a cut above. But at least most print reporters have avoided the obvious and obnoxious (and sometimes almost inevitable) puns.

There is, of course, a major constitutional question being raised by the proposed ban on what for Jews and Muslims is an act of religious obligation. Many news stories have focused on that angle. Few have delved into the religious and cultural implications — regardless of constitutionality — of such a ban.

The latter was more of the approach I took in a piece for the Wall Street Journal’s Houses of Worship feature, “The Circumcision Wars.”

The op-ed, which is really more news analysis, opens with a glimpse of the brit mila, unique for its almost universal adherence across Jewish movements, and emphasizes the religious significance of circumcision as a covenantal act between creation and Creator. It concludes with this:

From a Jewish religious perspective, the medical evidence is largely beside the point: Circumcision was ordered by God, so it requires no independent justification. Likewise for Muslims, who also circumcise per religious tradition.

The San Francisco measure would only prevent the circumcision of minors within city limits, and the practice would likely endure even there. “Circumcision is not going to go away because of this small, determined, angry group,” said Dr. Samuel Kunin, a Los Angeles-based urologist who promised that if the ballot measure passes, he’ll travel north to perform the first San Francisco circumcision.

The law also wouldn’t prevent a Jew from being circumcised as an adult, though that’s a much tougher procedure. To be sure, that didn’t stop thousands of Soviet Jews who were circumcised after they escaped persecution and arrived in Israel, the United States and elsewhere.

Still, circumcision doesn’t make a Jew a Jew. Family lineage or conversion (for which only the Orthodox widely require circumcision) do that. But, like baptism for those Christians who believe it is essential, circumcision is a declaration of a man’s covenant with God—a physical seal on that part of the body that passes traits to the next generation. No law, constitutional or not, can change that.

I mentioned in the WSJ piece that some have accused the “intactivists,” as the anti-circumcisers call themselves, of being anti-Semitic. A leader in the group, Matthew Hess, told me the accusation was ridiculous. But then Debra J. Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle discovered a comic book that Hess created and drew as a bit of pro-foreskin propaganda. The “hero” is Foreskin Man — check out that emblem on his chest — and the villain is “Monster Mohel.”

It seems like something out of Der Sturmer. Here’s how Mitchell Landsberg of the Los Angeles Times describes the comic:

The image of a bearded, black-hatted Jew with an evil grin and a bloody blade seems straight out of the annals of classic European anti-Semitism.

In this case, however, it is straight out of the pages of a comic book that landed in the middle of a campaign to outlaw circumcision in San Francisco for males under the age of 18. “Foreskin Man,” featuring a blond, buff hero who battles dark, evil Jewish characters, has added a strange and possibly sinister element to the November initiative campaign, which was already heated.

Landsberg couldn’t reach Hess, who told Saunders: “A lot of people have said [the comic is anti-Semitic], but we’re not trying to be anti-Semitic. We’re trying to be pro-human rights.” Hess told me something similar when we spoke late last month.

Regardless, I thought Landsberg chose a strong lede for this story. But he only partially follows it up.

Landsberg quotes the Anti-Defamation League and others condemning the comic as anti-Semitic, and he does a good job describing the depictions in the comic that give rise to that belief:

In the comic, the blond superhero takes on “Monster Mohel” — a bearded, black-hatted man wearing a prayer shawl. In the traditional Jewish community, a mohel is a person trained to perform circumcisions. The “Monster Mohel,” who leers as he sets after a baby with bloody scissors, is flanked by gun-toting henchmen dressed in the traditional clothes of ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Most of the “good” characters in the book have blond or light-brown hair and features that might be termed Aryan.

But Landsberg doesn’t explain why those things are anti-Semitic. (They are.) In fact, quotes like this one from Abby Michelson Porth of the Jewish Community Relations Council raise more questions than they answer:

“The images, in addition to being offensive, are not particularly original,” she said. “They’re reminiscent of millennia-old stereotypes that have been used to persecute and oppress Jews.”

Why are these images reminiscent of old stereotypes and how have they been used to persecute Jews? I know the answer. But do all readers?

Particularly missing is any reference to the blood libel or the related anti-Semitic belief that Jews crave the blood of gentile children. (Like in this bit of propaganda.) And, yes, I do think that is a gentile baby because blonde woman behind the mohel appears to be restrained by the “henchman.”

On an odd side note, unrelated to the reporting, the LAT story includes a hyperlink to other articles tagged with the word “penis.” Not sure if that is because the Times thought the other stories would be off interest to those reading about the anti-circumcision effort or because the LAT is written at an elementary-school level.

IMAGE: Courtesy of Foreskinman.com, via Saunders’ Token Conservative

The single Mormon and the city

Thankfully, it’s been a long time since I’ve been single. But I hear things about what it’s like being a single twentysomething in a religious community within a big city. In Los Angeles, Christians don’t feel pressure to marry — at least not from the church.

That definitely is not the case within the Mormon community living just outside our nation’s capital.

Michelle Boorstein has a fascinating story about this in The Washington Post. There were a lot of things I liked about this story.

To start, the story is about something novel: A church in Crystal City, which the reader learns has so many Mormons it’s known as “Little Provo,” that is exclusively for single Mormons in their 20s, 30s and 40s — i.e. those looking to hit the meat market.

Next, Boorstein does a great job of explaining why finding a spouse is so important for members of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints. Why it is a religious imperative, in fact.

In a faith that calls getting married “graduating with honors” and believes that after death you live with your family forever, finding a spouse is central to being a Mormon. . . .

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, as Mormons are formally known, teaches that all people have an afterlife, but one must be married, or “sealed,” to reach its highest parts. While Mormons believe it’s possible to be sealed in one’s afterlife, unmarried people are barred from key leadership positions in the church and often worship in separate singles congregations.

Just last month, a top Mormon official urged young people not to delay marriage or “waste time in idle pursuits” at a biannual churchwide meeting.

Then Boorstein discusses why Crystal City has such a high Mormon population — deep dating pool or proximity to nation’s capital and public service? — and some inter-communal criticisms of the pressure for Mormons to marry. And of course, she quotes a few single Mormons along the way.

While reading, I didn’t find myself wondering what was missing while reading this story. Instead, I felt like something had been revealed to me. I imagine this story was not so enlightening to someone within the Mormon community; maybe they would even notice some details that weren’t exactly right. But in general this story did what all good newspaper stories should do: It informed.

There was, however, one line that could be developed into its own story:

The chapel’s young professionals brag about marrying later than their Utah cohorts and being more independent, but also worry about being co-opted by Washington’s ambitious, individualistic culture.

That is an interesting potential phenomenon. It reminds me of incidence of infertility in the Jewish community that are tied to Jews staying in school longer and starting families later. (Here’s one source on that.) Bearing children, like marriage for Mormons, is a religious must. So how does one balance ambition and religious obligation? And how much more difficult is it for more career-focused Mormons?

Overall, though, this is a great story and one that doesn’t scrimp on newshole. It’s worth reading the whole thing.

IMAGE: Via Weddings-Paradise.com

Why did the Christian convert to Islam?

The Los Angeles Times doesn’t much do stories like this one anymore. A shade under 2,000 words, with a good hook and decent depth, this weekend feature about an Okie convert to Islam.

The lede gets the reader off to a good start:

At the pulpit of an inner-city Chicago mosque, the tall blond imam begins preaching in his customary fashion, touching on the Los Angeles Lakers victory the night before, his own gang involvement as a teenager, a TV soap opera and then the Day of Judgment.

“Yesterday we watched the best of seven…. Unfortunately we forget the big final; it’s like that show ‘One Life to Live,’ ” Imam Suhaib Webb says as sleepy boys and young men come to attention in the back rows. “There’s no overtime, bro.”

The sermon is typical of Webb, a charismatic Oklahoma-born convert to Islam with a growing following among American Muslims, especially the young. He sprinkles his public addresses with as many pop culture references as Koranic verses and sayings from the prophet. He says it helps him connect with his mainly U.S.-born flock.

Since reporter Raja Abdulrahim references a Lakers win, we know that the was working on this story for at least a few weeks. And the quote he chose is, well, a bit bizarre; bizarre because it perfectly captures what the reporter is going for. She catches his subject making a pop culture reference and using a bit of slang, even if it does seem a little dated.

The story continues in fairly good fashion.

Though I had to wonder if some of the statements were too general. We learn that Webb gives sermons at his “virtual mosque,” via his “popular” website — Define: popular — and that Webb is a resident scholar with the Muslim American Society, which is vaguely described as “a national religious and education group.” But of greatest significance was this:

Webb is at the forefront of a movement to create an American-style Islam, one that is true to the Koran and Islamic law but that reflects this country’s customs and culture. Known for his laid-back style, he has helped promote the idea that Islam is open to a modern American interpretation. At times, his approach seems almost sacrilegious.

That’s interesting. By now, I would have expected to have heard Webb’s name if he truly is a leading figure in this movement. When I Googled his name, I found a Wikipedia page, his personal website and some YouTube videos, but only one other mention in the mainstream press.

And sacrilegious? That’s a pretty big claim. But the story backs that up with some fascinating anecdotes — like Webb suggesting at a Muslim conference that mosques adopt a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy in regards to gays.

It turns out that Webb grew up in the Church of Christ — something Bobby and I know a little about — and I can’t dispute his account of the birthday gift that CoCers get: “a Bible with your name on it.” Although his teenage years weren’t like those of anyone I knew at a Church of Christ:

His teenage time in the gang and as a DJ at house parties figure prominently in his speeches and public persona, as a way to gain traction with young Muslims. That appears to work, at least with some. After his sermon in Chicago, a boy of about 12 turned to his mother, asking, “Did you hear his speech? He said he’s from the ‘hood.”

Webb was introduced to Islam at 19. He was selling music tapes at a swap meet when he met a Muslim man selling incense and handing out Korans. Webb took one home and read it in secret for several months.

He converted during his freshman year at the University of Central Oklahoma and broke the news to his parents at Thanksgiving dinner that year — when his mother had cooked a turkey and a ham, the latter forbidden by Islam.

The story goes on to discuss the work Webb is now doing and to show ways he is fusing American culture with Islam. But oddly the story doesn’t explain why Webb converted, other than that he had already been doubting the Trinity.

Indeed, despite it’s length this story leaves some questions unanswered. However, I still found it a welcome piece for a weekend edition of the Los Angeles Times. That may be based more on general frustration with the lack of quality religion reporting in the LAT than a reflection of the quality of this feature. But it still made for a good read.

LAT: Kabbalah, some ‘spiritual organization’

The Kabbalah Centre has spent more time on tabloid covers than in the daily newspaper. The reasoning is obvious, what with all those fancy celebrities who like to make a big deal about frequenting (or at least occasionally appearing at) the the centre’s worship facility on Robertson Boulevard.

But just because the Kabbalah Centre is in the news, that does not mean that it’s specifically newsworthy because of some Hollywood connection. Yet, this is the deckhead for a Los Angeles Times story about the Kabbalah Centre closing the U.S. arm of its children’s charity:

Success for Kids, in which Madonna was a board member and donor, will close at school year’s end due to cost of translating lessons into nondenominational curriculum. Foreign branches will continue.

OK … if that’s the most compelling aspect of this story, I have to imagine most readers were, like me, tempted to stop before even they even started.

However, because I was trapped at the airport for five hours, I read on. Big mistake, at least considering that I approached the story with a religion reporter’s interest.

Here’s how LAT reporter Harriet Ryan, who joined the paper from CourtTV.com to cover the “manufacture and exploitation of fame and celebrity,” opened the story:

The Kabbalah Centre, a Westside spiritual organization that is the focus of a tax evasion investigation, is shutting down the U.S. operations of a global children’s charity that has raised millions from celebrity followers and more recently drawn the scrutiny of IRS investigators.

SFK or Success for Kids, a 10-year-old nonprofit based at the center, will close its programs in American public schools at the end of the academic year, the charity’s president, Michal Berg, announced in a letter Wednesday to supporters. Berg wrote that the decision was prompted by larger than expected overhead costs associated with translating the religious organization’s lessons into a nondenominational curriculum.

Oddly missing from that opening is a mention of just what kind of spiritual organization Kabbalah is.

In fact, Kabbalah is based on the esoteric teachings of Jewish mysticism, though the institutionalized center has frequently been criticized and sued for allegedly being the Scientology of Judaism. You can learn a lot about that from my old Jewish Journal boss; my former Hollywood Jew colleague there also has some good info here that mixes the celebrity with the spiritual center news.

It’s not until the final paragraph of the relatively short LAT story that Judaism is mentioned. Of course, so are Madonna and Ashton Kutcher:

Kabbalah, the study of mystical Jewish texts said to hold the secrets of the universe, was little known outside of Orthodox Jewish circles until about 15 years ago, when Madonna began studying at the center. Other high-profile entertainers, including Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, followed and the center experienced enormous growth.

I know. Celebrities are a lot sexier than Jewish mysticism. But the story of this charity closing is not about the celebrities. And the part of the story dealing with the Malawi arm, which is Madonna’s Kabbalah charity, was already mentioned much higher up.

Readers would be much better served if the story moved the details about Kabbalah’s connection to Judaism way up and also if it included some specific details about the Success for Kids school program that “had been criticized by some officials and parents, who said they were quasi-religious.”

Arnold and Maria’s ‘Catholic’ marriage

Even on a remote tropical island, it’s been hard for me to escape news of the disintegration of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s marriage. My former governor and the First Lady announced their split last week, and the story has only gotten more sordid since.

As everyone now knows, it turns out that Schwarzenegger sired a secret love child with a family employee before he took office in a special recall election. Unlike his other affairs, wife Maria Shriver reportedly did not know about this one until after Schwarzenegger, who seemed like he was looking for a job when he spoke at the L.A. Press Club awards last June, left office this January.

Coverage continues as the fallout keeps spreading, most recently putting on hold Schwarzenegger’s “Action Hero” comeback and reportedly leading Shriver to hire a divorce lawyer.

One news article that caught my attention was this one from the Los Angeles Times, published before the latest revelations. It unravels the story behind the Schwarzenegger-Shriver split, sans love child. Of relevance to this blog is this quote:

“There was such a void,” said the friend, “and when she looked around, she realized her husband could never even think of filling it.”

When asked why Shriver stayed in the marriage for so long if she was so unhappy, the friend responded: “Part of it is family legacy, part of it is Catholicism. But the most important thing was their four kids.”

That’s the only mention in this story of Catholicism. Obviously, divorce is not accepted by Roman Catholic doctrine. (Neither is adultery, governor.) And, almost as obviously, the Kennedy clan, of which Shriver is a member, is Catholic.

But what I wondered was whether that freed the reporter from further exploring the religious angle to this story.

Is it enough to tell readers that Schwarzenegger and Shriver are both Catholic? Or do we also need some explanation as to how Catholicism shaped their marriage? My guess is that Catholic doctrine meant a lot less to their marriage than, say, that of Tolkien.

Remember Schwarzenegger’s line about lifting weights and sex from “Pumping Iron?” Or when Shriver unconvincingly defended her husband in 2003 after sexual allegations damaged his gubernatorial campaign? This was a California First Family that had a lot of problems caused entirely by decisions unrelated to Catholicism.

As PGA.com producer John Kim quipped: “If Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger can’t make it…who can? Oh wait….anyone else.”

So maybe reporters should explain just how Catholic the Schwarzenegger-Shriver marriage is (or soon-to-be was).

Shriver was a self-styled “Cafeteria Catholic,” and yet this blog post today from Bill Zwecker of the Chicago Sun-Times uses the dreaded D-word when referring to Shriver’s religious beliefs:

Friends of Shriver tell me her decision to hire mega-divorce lawyer Laura Wasser proves to them the devout Roman Catholic has reluctantly decided her marriage is so irreparably broken that divorce is her only course of action.

Devout how? Because Shriver told Sally Quinn she is a “Catholic in good standing?” Because she chooses which Catholic tenets she wants to follow?

“I find that I don’t spend a lot of time trying to square my own daily life with the institutional ‘Church.’ I pick and choose,” Shriver sums up regarding her approach to her Catholic faith. “I remember doing a long time ago a show about cafeteria Catholics, American cafeteria Catholics. And I think I’m probably a cafeteria Catholic.”

The statements Shriver has made about her Catholic faith call into question exactly why she would care about the Church’s position on divorce. It sounds more like a cultural hurdle than a religious conviction.

But, as far as my Google searching ability informs me, no reporters have explored this issue in any depth. Instead all we have are a few meaningless references to Shriver sticking with her philandering husband because she is Catholic and good Catholics don’t get divorced.

ESPN’s big gay ghosts

ESPN has been pretty good at getting religion in the past few years. On average, they seem to do much better than non-Godbeat reporters at most daily newspapers and even better than some of the religion reporters at major metros.

A few examples come to mind: the magazine’s profile of Jon Kitna; the website’s tribute to John Wooden and a profile of Tony Dungy as football’s “messenger of God”; this story asking how to mourn a sinner after Steve McNair was killed by his mistress. A few have also wiffed, but as I mentioned in a post about a great feature on the Detroit Tigers’ voice of God, there is a lot that other media outlets could learn from ESPN about teasing out the religion subtleties in non-obviously religious stories.

ESPN.com’s massive feature story about Will Sheridan is good, but is certainly haunted by some religion ghosts. The focus of the story is on Sheridan, a former basketball player at Villanova — the Big East powerhouse of Roman Catholic affiliation — and the challenges he faced when he came out as a gay athlete.

In part, the story using Sheridan to talk about how taboo homosexuality remains for male athletes. (And for sports some executives. See Peter Vidmar resigning as chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee after reports revealed he supported initiatives opposing same-sex marriage; and the Phoenix Suns president revealing he is gay). Overall, the Sheridan story is compelling and long. Though I wouldn’t say it is thoroughly reported.

It spends a lot of time talking about how the biggest opposition Sheridan experienced came from his family. And that’s where, assuming that Catholic universities just don’t hold their athletes to the same standards of, say, BYU, the real religion ghosts pop up.

ESPN’s Dana O’Neil describes Sheridan’s father, Will Sr., as a “religious man” who struggled deeply with his son’s sexuality but was “turned around” by the “power of prayer.” She then writes:

Will Sr. admits he is worried what people will think, what his fellow churchgoers will say, when they read this article. He himself still struggles, straddling the line between enlightenment and ignorance.

Yes, you read that last line correctly. Those who accept homosexuality are enlightened and those who think it is against God’s will are ignorant. Funny thing is ESPN’s O’Neil doesn’t mention what kind of church Will Sr. goes to, which would be influenced by the great variance among Christians regarding treatment of homosexuality.

This section of the profile, which ends with O’Neil suggesting that Will Sr. still lapses into ignorance, deeply cuts against whatever balance existed in an otherwise compelling story about what it was like for Sheridan to come out as gay to his teammates and his efforts to promote understanding in sports.

The point of this GetReligion post is not to discuss whether Sheridan is doing a good thing or whether ESPN had a good newshook for this story; it is to consider how a story that was clearly so extensively reported could be done with such limited diligence.

If Sheridan’s family was a big part of this profile and, as reported, Sheridan’s father struggled with his son’s sexuality in large part because of his Christian beliefs, how is it that Will Sr.’s beliefs are reduced to “religious” and his Christian community is glancingly referred to as ignorant churchgoers?

Not your zayde’s Conservative Judaism?

Forgiving the poor attempt at humor in the lede, the Los Angeles Times had a good, informative story about the existential crisis facing the Conservative movement of American Judaism.

The news hook was a meeting in Las Vegas of the Rabbinical Assembly, at which Conservative Judaism’s spiritual leaders discussed rebranding the movement.

In case you’re not familiar, Conservative Judaism is not exactly what it sounds like. It started in Germany in the mid-1800s as a response to Reform Judaism, and is actually older that image. Conservative Judaism is seen as a hedge between Orthodox and Reform Judaism, but that isn’t really accurate either. Generally speaking, the Conservative movement places value both on the modernity and meaningfulness emphasized by the Reform and on the Jewish tradition and law emphasized by the Orthodox.

My Jewish law professor at UCLA is a Conservative rabbi, and there is a lot more detail I could go into here. But the important thing to know is that Conservative in the Jewish theological sense is not the same as being conservative politically. It’s about following Jewish tradition while adjusting to changes in society.

Which brings me back to Mitchell Landsberg‘s story for the LAT.

Landsberg does a good job capturing the concern among leading Conservative rabbis. And he has some good details form the frontlines; he also puts Conservative Judaism’s decline in the context of slipping numbers for other Jewish denominations and mainline Christian denominations.

But then I got to this section toward the end, and when Rabbi David Wolpe mentioned “ideology,” I realized that I was more than halfway through the story about rebranding Conservative Judaism but had only my own knowledge of Conservative doctrine to rely on:

The Conservative rabbis won’t become car salesmen, but they batted around some fairly radical ideas and predictably stirred up some opposition.

There was talk of eliminating membership dues for synagogues or switching to a la carte “fee-for-service” plans — so that a parent who wants only to send his or her child to religious school won’t also be paying to support the congregation’s other programs. But some said dues give congregants a vital sense of ownership.

Wolpe, the Sinai Temple rabbi, said the movement needs a slogan, one that’s short enough to fit on a bumper sticker. He suggested “A Judaism of Relationships.”

“We don’t have a coherent ideology,” he told his fellow rabbis. “If you ask everybody in this room ‘What does Conservative Judaism stand for?’ my guess is that you’d get 100 different answers. . . . That may be religiously a beautiful thing, but if you want a movement, that’s not such a hot result.”

Fortunately, Landsberg sprinkles some of Conservative Judaism’s theological foundation in the final paragraphs. And I guess it’s better late than never.

But one question not answered was how this effort at rebranding will be any different or more successful than anything that’s been done in the past. As Landsberg noted, Conservative Judaism has been sliding for a good while now. This is neither a new phenomenon nor a first attempt at turning things around.

Landsberg also mentions the Conservative movement in Israel, known as Masorti, but doesn’t ask or answer the question of whether there is anything the Conservative Jews in the United States can learn from their younger brother in Israel.

Getting into those details may not be as compelling as quotes warning that the end may be nigh. But it would make a good story a better one.

Manny: Steroids part of God’s plan

Oh Manny, you came and you gave but you were taking …

Sorry, it still hurts.

It really was a beautiful two-month run for Manny Ramirez after he joined the Los Angeles Dodgers late in the 2008 pennant race. But the following season Ramirez was slapped with a 50-game suspension, and one of the greatest right-handed hitters to every playing the game has never really been the same.

Once a first-ballot Hall of Famer, Ramirez retired Friday after the league notified him that he had again failed MLB’s drug policy. Baseball commentators have spent the weekend talking about Ramirez’s fall from Cooperstown grace, and I took a moment yesterday to drop him from my fantasy team (he was 1-17 and already on my bench, so it wasn’t a big loss).

And, of course, Manny had something to say:

“I’m at ease,” Ramirez told ESPNdeportes.com by phone from his home in Miami. “God knows what’s best (for me). I’m now an officially retired baseball player. I’ll be going away on a trip to Spain with my old man.”

I’m not sure how steroids figure into God’s plan.

Now, when the White Sox claimed Ramirez off of waivers last year, after the Dodgers tired of waiting for Manny, Ramirez actually forgot how to speak English. (Or was it just Manny being Manny?) This comment requires a bit less translation, but the AP sports writer who wrote this story still acted like Ramirez was speaking a foreign language.

The rest of a fairly long story, especially by sportswriting standards, gives a nice recap of Ramirez’s career, highlights and lowlights. But it doesn’t make another mention of God or Jesus or anything else religious. Even though it should have.

After all, this is not the first time that Manny, like Alex Rodriguez, has blamed God’s divine plan and human fallibility for his steroid use.

Two years ago Manny was reminding us that, much as Dodgers fans hoped otherwise, he was not Jesus:

“A lot but, um, we humans. We learn from mistakes. There was only one man that was perfect — and they killed him. That’s how I look at life.”

So what does God have in store for Manny? And how will he know? And why is God and a vacation to Spain the only thing on his mind as he quite unceremoniously ends what was once a great career?

These are questions that I wish the AP had asked. They weren’t too hard to spot; meatballs waiting to be blasted like one of those hanging breaking balls that Manny used to feast on.

But, to be sure, AP sportswriter Dave Skretta wasn’t the only one striking out.

Most papers seem to have picked up the AP story — from the SF Chronicle to the Wall Street Journal — but other original reports also failed to mention what Manny meant by mentioning God.

ESPN, which at times has been really good at spotting religion angles (and other times not so much), leaves readers with a big ghost after following basically the exact same line as the AP.

Look, I know it’s not a story when Albert Pujols touches home plate and points to heaven (though that hasn’t happened much yet this season). But it requires a bit of reporter explanation when one of the greatest players of a generation retires and blames his bad decisions on God.


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