Banerjee off to greener pastures

we will miss you balloon 300I’m sorry to report that the New York Times‘ Neela Banerjee has left the paper. All national reporters who cover thematic beats were asked to return to New York by September 1. Such an arrangement was problematic for Banerjee, who lives in DC with her family.

At the same time, the paper was asking employees to consider taking a buyout. Famed Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse took one. So did Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist David Cay Johnston.

And, sadly, Banerjee took one as well.

Banerjee’s stories first appeared in the paper in 1999. She moved to the religion beat in 2004, I believe.

We’ve covered dozens and dozens of her stories. I remember, in particular, her 2006 piece on the trend toward online confession in Evangelical churches. Quite a few reporters followed that story over the next year but I think she was the one to break it. Her original piece also inspired me to write an analysis of the phenomenon. I also loved her story on custody battles involving religion. You could tell how hard she worked to be fair to the various parties.

Tim Townsend, religion reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, interviewed Banerjee for his story in the Columbia Journalism Review on the travails of the religion beat. I loved her quote:

Reporters who cover the fractured, volatile, weighty world of religion have a responsibility to be equally respectful of all beliefs. Whether someone is a Roman Catholic, a Jew, or a Raelian, we are privileged to ask such people personal questions about their most profound thoughts and hopes. “As corny as this sounds,” says the Times‘s Neela Banerjee, “I think I grow by talking to folks whose worldviews are deeply different from mine. My job is not to grab the quote that makes them sound silly, but the one that sheds light, perhaps new light, on what they believe.”

If only more reporters felt the same way. Hopefully Banerjee will continue to write about religion in other venues. Another GetReligion frequent flyer — Laurie Goodstein — remains on the religion beat at the Times.

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Shameless plug for …

LuckyOliver 2382370 medium notebook and pen 410x267What can I say. Every now and then, since the creation of this here weblog, your GetReligionistas have found ourselves on the other side of the reporter’s notebook. We do have our own opinions and areas of expertise. MZ and “Two Kingdoms” theology. Mark and the interactions of the Democratic Party with Catholicism and labor. Daniel’s insights into why God cheers for the Indianapolis Colts.

This week, the editors of Time magazine aimed veteran reporter David Van Biema at the Anglican warfare story and he took the story into some ground already covered here at GetReligion. Thus, he gave me a call.

I am not sure how comfortable I am with journalists being quoted in news essays. However, several decades of covering this story, including 10 years when I was an Episcopalian, have left me with boxes of documents and a rather sprawling data base of URLs and telephone numbers. Click here to see a recent Again interview in which — framed by my own experiences and biases — I tried to help Eastern Orthodox Christians understand some of the major themes in the Anglican wars.

Anyway, Van Bierma decided that he wanted to talk with me. Click here if you want to read the article that resulted from his work and information from some other Time correspondents. This ran with the headline: “Could the Pope Aid an Anglican Split?” Here is a piece of the report, which tries to explain ways in which the current Church of England crisis over the consecration of female bishops is and IS NOT linked to what is happening in America:

… (On) its face, the Church of England’s crisis is only distantly related to the global or American scene. However, it might draw in a very powerful observer from outside the Communion who could make things very interesting: Pope Benedict XVI.

Both the special nature of the English crisis and the Pope’s possible involvement hinge on the fact that most of the English dissidents this week are not the evangelical, Bible-thumping members of the Communion whose fury at the American ordination of an openly gay bishop has led to talks of schism this summer. Rather they are members of a faction, heavy on liturgy and ritual, that abhors evangelicalism but considers itself very close to the Catholicism from which the Anglican Church originally sprang. Many “Anglo-Catholics” share Rome’s opposition to female ordination. They have also historically hoped for a reunion with Catholicism, and correctly assume that female bishops would be a deal-breaker in any negotiation with Rome. So the move to ordain women bishops is more than some of them can stand. In a petition last week, some 1,300 Anglican priests and bishops stated that if the Synod voted along the lines that it eventually did on Monday, that “we will inevitably be asking whether we can … continue [with] the Church of England which has been our home.”

Would they actually leave? This is where the Pope comes in. For an ordained clergyman to depart his cradle faith is a lonely endeavor, done individually. But that is probably not how things will roll out in this case. A Catholic Church official explained to TIME that the last time a situation like this arose (when the Church of England voted to allow women to become priests), “some 400 [dissidents] became Catholic priests or bishops.” The issue, he says, is “whether there is some way for [the current crop] to come into the Catholic Church in a corporate way, [with] their [congregations].” Along those lines, he notes, there are so-called “Anglican Rite” groups in the U.S. that maintain Anglican ritual, but recognize the Pope’s authority and count as Catholics.

It would be out of line for me to dissect this too much or to share my side of the interview that is referenced later in the piece. However, let me say that I have tremendous respect for the Reformed, low-church side of the Anglican tradition and, frankly, I would never refer to the J.I. Packers and John Stotts of this world as “Bible-thumping” Anglicans.

One of the major themes of GetReligion’s writing about this conflict is that there is no one “Anglican right” and that journalists who assume there is such an animal will not be able to anticipate what may happen next. There is no one “Anglican left” either, although, since the left is tied to the church’s establishment so tightly, Anglican progressives tend to hang together — for the most part. That’s why it was news when some on the Anglican left took potshots at the famous or infamous Bishop John Shelby Spong of Newark.

I have been watching the delicate dance between the Vatican and the Anglo-Catholics for a long, long time and actually wrote a Scripps Howard News Service column on the topic a few years ago. Also, journalists covering the story may want to dig out the 1997 book by former Anglican William Oddie entitled “The Roman Option,” which, way back then, stressed a theme now reemerging in The Times — which is that many liberal Catholics in England do not want to see a wave of conservative Anglicans enter their post-Vatican II world.

NotebookTurns 01As Ruth Gledhill just wrote:

In England at least, these Catholics are by and large pretty liberal. Many of them would like women priests, or at the very least married ones. The last thing they want is a whole group of woman-bishop-hating clergy coming over, with their wives and families, and enforcing some kind of new doctrinal orthodoxy on dioceses that are working very well without them and finding their own accommodation with Catholic orthodoxy and modern life. Given the sacrifices their own priests have made in their embrace of celibacy, poverty and obedience in the service of Christ, they are unlikely to want our more-Roman-than-the-Romans alighting their vestry doors.

So will Rome act? Look at it this way: Will Anglicans act, clearly and quickly? To state this another way, which institution is more likely to achieve doctrinal and institutional clarity first?

My bias is clear, in terms of my own choice and life. I think there will be a wide array of options available in the future for Anglicans whose theological convictions are on the Reformed and Evangelical side of the fence.

Will that be in or out of Communion with Canterbury? Who the heck knows. Will all of those Anglican conservatives choose the same path? Who the heck knows (but I have my doubts, based on the history of these things).

Will Rome act? My hunch is “yes.”

Will Eastern Orthodox leaders act in unity in England? I have my doubts about that, although some Anglicans may choose to swim the Bosphorus instead of the Tiber.

My suspicion is that, in the unique culture that is England, an Anglican Rite option could happen pretty soon. My conviction is that people who want to join an ancient church should go ahead and join an ancient church, although conservative Anglicans get very mad at me when I say that.

But that’s what I believe and that’s what I told Time. Let me know what you think of the journalism that ended up on print at that magazine’s website. If you want to talk about the Anglican disputes themselves, stay calm and be kind and quote some sources (as I just did with Oddie, Gledhill, Time and, in a way, the former Cardinal Ratzinger).

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Sigh … Back into ‘On Faith’ fog

mistsI know, I know. I have said what I have to say already about the mini-firestorm over Sally Quinn of the Washington Post electing to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion at the funeral Mass for the late Tim Russert. I really don’t want to have readers start clicking “comment” again to talk about the theology of this or the state of Catholic canon law.

For me, the key is journalism. Why, at the “On Faith” site, is this a subject that is defined in terms of feelings instead of facts. As I said in my last post on the topic:

There are facts that matter here. Facts about history, doctrine and courtesy. Facts matter when you are covering religion news and trends. Facts matter when you are interviewing religious people — left and right, members of major world religions and members of lesser known bodies that some would be tempted to call “fringe.” Facts and doctrine matter to religious people. …

This isn’t about emotions and feelings. It’s about getting the facts right and showing respect for the people for whom those facts, doctrines and rituals are a matter of eternal life and death. Facts matter in journalism, religion and journalism about religion

I bring this up, heading once again into the fog bank defined in my first post, because of an email blurb that the “On Faith” team sent out to promote one of its religious questions that are posted for debate. The question:

What do you think about Sally Quinn, a non-Catholic, going to Communion at Tim Russert’s Catholic funeral? What are some do’s and don’ts for observing the religious rituals of others?

This was, of course, posted to the weblog’s 100-plus-member panel of religious thinkers and leaders. Thus, we are told:

With backgrounds and beliefs spanning a wide range, panelists include Rock musician Salman Ahmad, Arun Gandhi, grandson of “Mahatma” Gandhi, best-selling author Sam Harris, Bishop T.D. Jakes, His Excellency Mohammad Khatami of Iran, Reverend Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu, Reverend Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose Driven Life,” Nobel Peace Prize Winner Elie Wiesel, Anglican Bishop Nicholas Thomas Wright among others.

The assumption is that all of these people have something to say about this issue. I can see that many would, about the question about the “do’s and don’ts for observing the religious rituals of others.” In a general sense, they can talk about their various traditions. But that isn’t the issue here, is it? The question concerns Quinn’s decision to knowingly violate Catholic tradition and law. If she didn’t know that she was violating Catholic tradition and law, then that raises another set of journalistic questions.

What do all of these panelists have to do with the question at the heart of the controversy?

If Quinn had chosen to visit a synagogue and break Jewish traditions, the relevant discussion would involve Jews in various traditions.

If she had decided to visit a mosque and do something totally contrary to Islamic law and custom, the relevant discussion would be among Muslims.

The goal would be to explore the facts of that tradition and the differing ways — perhaps — that these facts are interpreted by experts and believers in that tradition. Rest assured that there would be a debate between American Catholics on the left and right on the Communion issue at hand, between progressives and the pro-Vatican traditionalists.

Meanwhile, we get all kinds of views on Quinn’s act from all kinds of people, including some Catholics. But the emphasis is on the people outside the Catholic fold, with Quinn. It is not surprising that many take her side.

mists trees mtnsideFor example, here is the trailblazing postmodern evangelical “emergent” thinker Brian D. McLaren, who even manages to jump inside the mind of Russert as he argues that traditional Catholics are bad Christian evangelists, because they want to maintain centuries of law and tradition:

Tim Russert, it was clear, lived in this dynamic tension, and created this kind of space for his friends. He was a deeply committed Catholic who welcomed into his circle of friendship people who did not share — or even begin to understand — his commitment. My guess is that Tim would not have joined with those who took offense, interpreted her choice with a “hermeneutic of suspicion,” and who blasted Sally for taking part in communion.

Instead, I think that Tim would have interpreted her choice with a “hermeneutic of grace,” seeing in her action — which strictly speaking, did violate Catholic protocols — as a step of faith, and not as an act of disrespect for his religion. All priests and pastors and parishioners, it seems to me, face similar situations, and we all have four options:

A. To show this “hermeneutic of grace” in neither our personal lives nor in our church lives.

B. To show it in our personal lives but not our communal lives.

C. To show it in our communal but not our personal lives.

D. To show it in both.

Protocols? In other words, if a Catholic pope, bishop or priest does not offer nonbelievers Holy Communion, then they are not gracefully taking part in their search for God, truth, etc. They are turning seekers away and, well, bad on them for doing that. Forget centuries of converts, martyrs and everyone else. But I am straying from the subject.

The bottom line: What does this have to do with the journalistic questions being raised? McLaren is a Protestant’s Protestant, although that statement will anger many Protestants. He is free to do whatever he wants in his church. The question is whether he would want, let’s say, some hardshell fundamentalists coming into his services and taking actions that directly oppose the teachings of his church.

In other words, McLaren makes the rules or anti-rules in his own church, correct? If you are writing about his church, the important thing is to know and understand the teachings and traditions in the context of his flock. You would want to show his congregation respect, by “getting things right” when covering them. That’s journalism.

What do feelings and emotions have to do with this, in the context of a journalistic enterprise? There are facts linked to this discussion. Right? Or, is the question of whether there are facts or truth claims about Catholic sacraments what is actually in dispute? Is it a newspaper’s job to tell the Catholic Church what is and what is not good Catholicism? Is it the newspaper’s duty to call for doctrinal change? Would Quinn do that for other world religions? Questions and more questions.

More fog, instead of information. What we need here is journalism.

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One more look at Pew Forum survey

bluePews2A funny thing happened last week after I dashed off a quick post about that omnipresent “eternal life” item in the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey produced by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Once I had read some of the survey details, I knew that I was going to have to talk to some of the researchers at the forum before I could handle a Scripps Howard News Service column on the topic. With my long lead time — write on Tuesdays, file early on Wednesday mornings for weekend papers — there just wasn’t time.

So I had to wait a week.

But then something strange happened. Some of the questions in that “Pew views: Questions about Oprah America” post kind of took on a life of their own. Before I knew it, Baptist Press had written a news story that included some of the GetReligion questions and then, a day or so later, evangelical activist Charles Colson did a radio commentary that also cited my post.

Frankly, I was happy for the feedback. Yet, at the same time, I also knew the Pew Forum team well enough to know that it would be very unusual for me to ask questions that they had not already noticed and discussed. Sure enough, some of my questions had already been discussed in the press conference announcing this latest blast of survey data. Click here to see that transcript.

Anyway, I still thought the earlier questions about salvation and eternal life merited a column. So here is the first half of what I ended up writing, ending with a crucial fact — that the Pew Forum team is already planning follow-up research to clarify some of the earlier confusion. This is the version that will eventually be posted at

Ask Southern Baptists to name their religion and most of them will simply say, “I’m a Baptist.”

Ask Roman Catholics the same question and most will say, “I’m Catholic.” Odds are good that most Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians and occupants of other name-brand pews will take the same approach.

However, some of these believers may choose to define their religion more broadly and say, “I’m a Christian.” A researcher would certainly hear that response in scores of independent evangelical and charismatic churches across America.

This may sound like nitpicking, but it’s not. Confusion over defining the word “religion” almost certainly helped shape the most controversial results from the new U.S. Religious Landscape Survey produced by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

In one of several questions probing the role of dogmatism in American life, interviewers asked adults which of two statements better fit their beliefs: “My religion is the one, true faith leading to eternal life” or “many religions can lead to eternal life.”

The results leaped into national headlines, with 70 percent of those affiliated with a religion or denomination saying that many religions can bring eternal salvation.

In fact, 83 percent of those in liberal Protestant denominations affirmed that belief, along with 79 percent of Catholics, 59 percent of those from historically black churches and a stunning 57 percent of believers in evangelical pews. In other world religions, 89 percent of Hindus polled said many religions could bring eternal life, along with 86 percent of Buddhists, 82 percent of Jews and 56 percent of Muslims.

But there’s the rub. It’s impossible, based on a straightforward reading of the Pew Forum research, to know how individual participants defined the word “religion” when they answered.

“We didn’t have a set of interview guidelines or talking points that we used when asking that question,” said Greg Smith, a Pew Forum research fellow. “The interviewers didn’t say, ‘Well, that means someone who is a member of a different denomination than yours’ or ‘that means someone in a completely different religion than your religion.’

“So people may have answered that in different ways. There may have been Baptists that interpreted that question as simply referring to members of other churches. Others may have answered with a more universal concept of ‘religion’ in mind. That’s possible. In fact, it’s highly likely.”

There is no way — based on this round of research — to know precisely how many believers have decided to reject what their faiths teach, if those faiths make exclusive truth claims about salvation and eternal life. Thus, said Smith, the Pew Forum is planning follow-up work.

So new information, based on a much more specific set of questions, will come out sooner or later. That’s good news.

Click here to read the full text as shipped by Scripps Howard. There’s some interesting new survey information from the Southern Baptists in the column, as well.

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And this just in…. (updated)

checkThose who are not deep into the comments thread on the Rick Warren post will want to note this development.

(cue: quiet drum roll)

CORRECTION (published June 12, 2008): Rick Warren did not announce the visit of a group of gay fathers to his Saddleback Church on Father’s Day, nor did he or his staff initiate it–as this story originally reported. The group, which has ties to the gay activist organization SoulForce, plans to attend church at Saddleback on Father’s Day and will meet with members of the Saddleback staff the following day. Neither Warren nor his wife Kay will attend the meeting.

To anyone reading this at Newsweek, the GetReligionistas thank you.

And over at the New York Times online site:

POSTSCRIPT: Following news of the plan by gay fathers to attend Saddleback Church this coming Sunday, the church’s pastor, Rev. Rick Warren, has issued a statement clarifying the church’s role. “We did not invite this group, and I will not be meeting with them,” he said, adding that he had a previous commitment and would not be in church on Sunday.

And thanks to the GetReligion readers at the Times, too. I cannot stress enough that the corrections team at the Times works with amazing energy and attention to detail. Our paths have crossed in the past and we have great respect for that desk.

Oh yes, and thanks to Pastor Rick Warren for writing in — on the record. It was good to hear from him again.

UPDATED: The staff at SoulForce urge readers to check out their actual press released text. Click here for that information, which they believe shows that the error was totally by Newsweek and, we must assume, through that story the New York Times. The movement’s belief that Warren would take part in their meetings centered on email correspondence that SoulForce has not made public.

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Rick Warren responds to Newsweek (updated)

obama and warrenWe get our share of interesting comments here at this weblog and we also get lots of straw-man sermons that have nothing to do with religion-news coverage. And from time to time we hear from the reporters, editors and religious leaders involved in the actual coverage.

Most of the time, these emails come in flying “private” and “not for publication” warning labels.

But Mark’s “Another way to be one sided” post drew a most interesting on-the-record response. You may recall that this post focused, in part, on the following section of Lisa Miller’s Newsweek report on Soul Force’s lesbigay activism on Christian college campuses:

… (Last) week Rick Warren announced that he was welcoming a group of gay fathers to his church for Father’s Day. Now, even on very conservative Christian campuses, there are gays who are “out” and who want their authority figures to recognize them — and their sexuality — as deserving of God’s love. Thanks largely to the efforts of Soul Force, which encourages dialogue between gays and Christians on campus, these students are trying to get organized.

That led to this GetReligion comment from the megachurch pastor, and mega-selling author:

(You) were correct in assuming Newsweek quoted a Soul Force press release headline that was 100% false. We did not invite this group and I will not be meeting with them. They invited themselves to draw attention to their cross country publicity stunt.

My staff has already told them that neither my wife nor I will meet with them for any discussion or debate. This weekend, both Kay and I are receiving awards from two different universities so we’ll be out of town! Also, it’s Father’s Day and I’m spending the holiday with my children and grandchildren, as are all my staff.

Rick Warren
Saddleback Church

Warren’s comment on this factual error is important, in large part because the Miller report is inspiring other commentaries and will probably lead to live coverage of the service/demonstration. You think?

Take, for example, this commentary over at the New York Times website by Timothy Egan. It opens with this remark about some “good tidings” from Saddleback land:

This Father’s Day, one of most popular pastors in America will open his megachurch to homosexual dads, an event that would usually signal an extreme weather alert from old guard Republican evangelical leaders.

But by welcoming gay fathers into his Southern California flock, Rick Warren, author of the “The Purpose Driven Life,” is not just living up to the highest standards of Christian fellowship, he’s turning the page on a particularly embarrassing part of our politics.

I guess the Times has to yank its Warren praise pretty quick, before it works into ink on paper.

Meanwhile, these reporters need to rethink a basic part of their framework for these reports. The assumption that Warren is set to “open his megachurch to homosexual dads” assumes that he had previously closed his church to gay dads. The odds are very good that there are gay dads and even scores of ex-gay dads at Saddleback every weekend.

That isn’t the question, is it? The question is whether he had made a decision to allow his church to be used as a site for a media-friendly demonstration by a Christian group on the theological left that wants to attack some of the traditional, small-o orthodox doctrines about marriage and sex that his church has preached and tried to advocate day after day.

Does Newsweek need to print a correction? Does the Times, which just push-teched the Egan piece out to online subscribers atop its editorial-page listserv?

UPDATE: Click here for more info on this debate.

Photo: That’s Rick Warren on the right.

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Religion and changing Times

stairway to heaven 01There are few things that journalists in Washington, D.C., like to talk about more than this subject — journalists in Washington. I am sure that this surprises GetReligion readers, especially those inclined to belief in the utter depravity of man.

So Howard “Howie” Kurtz of the Washington Post was in an interesting position the other day when he wrote a Style section feature about John Solomon, the new executive editor of the Washington Times.

For starters, this piece required him to openly talk about the Times being the conservative paper in town and the Post being the liberal paper, especially since the lede for the story focused on Solomon steering the Times in the direction of a more balanced, nuanced, “American” model of journalism. On top of that, Solomon — an investigative reporter — came to the Times from the Post, where some said he was too conservative. Others said that he was a solid, basic journalist who was even-handed in who he ticked off.

You know that religion is going to come up in this kind of piece, because of the history of the Times and the Unification Church. But Kurtz shows admirable restraint on that issue, knowing that it doesn’t have much to do with the people working in that newsroom these days.

Truth is, the most interesting religious content in the piece about Solomon is in a quote from a Times staffer. Here it is, in context:

In an interview at the paper’s Northeast Washington headquarters, Solomon, 41, conveys a mixture of energy and impatience, spewing out ideas faster than they can be scribbled on a pad.

“If I made one fundamental change,” he says, “it’s to make sure opinion and commentary didn’t bleed onto the news pages.” Toward that end, he issued a memo banning what he says were “archaic” terms used by the paper, such as “homosexual” and “illegal aliens.”

Veteran Times reporter Ralph Hallow says he believes the right-leaning Times balances the left-leaning Post. Solomon’s aim, he says, is to satisfy a conservative audience “without making the newspaper a shill for any of the causes of the right, for the Bible-thumpers — something that is sensitive to them but doesn’t pander to them.”

David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, says he hasn’t noticed any change: “The strength of the Times on the news side has always been not any bias, but that it covers different things than The Post does. They cover more things of interest to conservatives.”

Note the tension between these two phrases, between the newspaper being “a shill for any of the causes of the right, for the Bible-thumpers” and it covering “more things of interest to conservatives.” You can see how both of those phrases can be read as referring to coverage of religion news and/or the politics of morality and culture. No sign of the old Libertarian vs. cultural conservative wars, right?

And Bible-thumpers? Nice quote, Howie.

Meanwhile, it is also interesting to note that the massive project to modernize the Times design and web product has led to the creation of a new, twice-a-week column for veteran religion writer Julia Duin (a friend of mine for more than two decades, going back to when we were both reporters in the Scripps Howard chain). This follows the recent creation of her Times “Belief Blog,” which I shamelessly plugged here.

Duin kicked it off with a funny piece talking about the challenges she faced coming up with a name for the feature, running through waves of suggestions she heard from friends and colleagues. One of her top picks was “Encyclicals,” but some people thought that was too Catholic.

The title had to be original, thus I could not steal from the London Times‘ “Articles of Faith,” still the best title out there for a religion column. The title had to be theologically accurate — plus, it had to be something I personally liked.

Surveying a few friends and fellow employees, I came up with some nominees: Faith-o-meter, Holy Cow, God Beat, Between Heaven and Hell, Frozen Chosen, Spirit, Soul and Body, Creed and Commandments, Anathemas, Angels and Demons, Epistles and Thinking Theology.

None of those quite took, so I sent an e-mail to more reporters and editors saying, “Help me.” There were the celestial suggestions: From on High, Eternity in Print, Divine Inspiration, In Spirit or InSpiritation, eTernity, Out of the Silent Planet and Thoughts from Above. Those would be great were I a Delphic oracle or canonized saint.

There were loads of other suggestions.

So what did she end up with? Let’s just say that the art for this post is a rather big hint. Or click here for video.

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RNS gets a bigger blog

sally quinnThe professionals over at Religion News Service would like us to pass along the fact that they have radically updated and enlarged their blog about religion news.

In other words, they have a religion news blog.

As opposed to GetReligion, which is a blog about how the mainstream media cover religion news.

It’s always good to underline that difference, since so many people get confused about what we’re trying to do here.

The note that RNS editor Kevin Eckstrom is sending around takes you right to a hot item, on that is directly linked to the whole “What in the heckfire is that massive ‘On Faith’ site all about?” discussion that pops up here from time to time.

Here’s that opening post from Eckstrom, which has a punchy headline: “Sally Quinn doesn’t get it.”

The folks over at The Washington Post‘s On Faith blog opened a cybercan of worms when On Faith hostess Sally Quinn weighed in on the gay marriage debate and asked what the big deal is all about:

“Homosexual couples are simply two people who love each other. Please explain to me how that can be wrong in the eyes of God. Didn’t God make us all in his image? Please explain to me why it is not better for society that two people who love each other cement their relationship in a legal union. Please tell me how it could possibly be harmful to society to have two loving people form a union.

I simply don’t get it. I really don’t.”

So she asked for some help, and as could probably be expected, she’s getting quite an earful.

Well, there is this thing called the Bible, you see, and people in different pews on left and right violently disagree with one another about the meaning of its contents and how the ancient churches have read key scripture passages about marriage and sexuality and sacraments for 2,000 years or so. And, well, it’s a long story.

Bookmark the new RNS blog. Now. There’s only one RNS.

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