Henriques fires back at DiIulio

564px United states bill of rights 1 630x670Pardon me as I do a bit of housecleaning on this rainy day after the election here inside the Beltway.

GetReligion received an email the other day from reporter Diana B. Henriques, the primary author of that sprawling “In God’s Name” series about the various loopholes that editors at The New York Times believe need to be patched up in American church-state law. She wanted to let us know that The Weekly Standard has published a tough letter from her in response to the magazine’s piece by Democrat John J. DiIulio that fiercely criticized her series.

Since the letter is hidden behind a subscriber firewall at the Standard, and since GetReligion ran a post about DiIulio’s article, Henriques asked if we would post her letter. We’re glad to do so:

John J. DiIulio Jr.’s “The New York Times versus Religion” (Oct. 23) contained some significant factual errors in its descriptions of my four-part series, “In God’s Name,” published in the New York Times beginning October 8.

DiIulio’s essay focused largely on his complaint that I did not accurately or fairly address the issues surrounding federal funding for religious groups that provide social services under the federal Faith-Based and Community Initiative. But the series was not even remotely about that initiative, or federal faith-based funding in general. Out of almost 18,000 words, only three paragraphs, totaling 139 words, mentioned those topics at all. Most of those were incidental references; the rest were in a quotation from Dr. Derek Davis in a companion piece to the final story on October 11.

So none of the series dealt with federal funding issues, which DiIulio identified as half of my “story line.”

And the second article in the series, “Where Faith Abides, Employees Have Few Rights,” did not focus at all on “13 ‘workplace’ provisions” adopted by Congress, as DiIulio reported. Those legislative actions were mentioned only in thumbnail fashion in a graphic that ran the previous day. Instead, the second article focused on just two topics: the “ministerial exception” and a landmark federal appeals court opinion in 2002 that expanded a religious exemption under federal labor laws. Both are judicial doctrines, not legislation.

DiIulio also mistakenly described the ministerial exception. It was not established under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as he reported. As I explained in my second article, it is a longstanding judicial doctrine that dates back at least 100 years. And the religious exemption in the 1964 act simply allowed religious employers to practice faith-based discrimination in hiring, as I also explained. Neither it nor the more expansive exemption adopted in 1972 had anything at all to say about “private funds and worship services” or about “public funds and social services,” as DiIulio reported.

Nor did the presidential executive orders he mentioned expand, or even affect, the ministerial exception, as he stated. Court doctrine can be modified only by judicial action, not by executive order.

But perhaps DiIulio and your readers will be heartened to know that his concern that venerable houses of worship “must go begging” for historic preservation funds is also incorrect. While not mentioned in my series, previous rulings by the U.S. attorney general’s office have been reversed to allow such funding. And FEMA, too, will now pay to rebuild religious schools damaged by natural disasters. These developments, of course, are just two more examples of the trend toward greater governmental accommodation of religious groups — which was, in fact, the “story line” of my series.

Senior Writer
New York Times
New York, N.Y.

That’s her take. I hope that DiIulio responds at some point.

Meanwhile, her letter really doesn’t change the GetReligion take on the series very much. I still worry that the Times does not seem to realize that, in church-state law, it’s hard to close some loopholes without crushing basic religious liberties, especially linked to freedom of speech and freedom of association. And I remain convinced that Henriques need to talk to more church-state veterans, especially on the left. Here is a snippet of what I said:

… (It) is clear that Henriques is aware that the same laws that protect conservative groups protect liberal religious groups. She even knows that some of our most important recent laws protecting religious liberty were passed with the help of the Clinton White House and super-broad coalitions of religious leaders that ranged from the Eagle Forum to the ACLU, from the National Council of Churches to the National Association of Evangelicals, from the Southern Baptists to the Episcopalians. On these issues, Pat Robertson was dancing with Bill Clinton (although it isn’t nice to dwell on that image).

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Has Colorado Springs’ power peaked?

Pikes Peak PicLast week, The Denver Post‘s Eric Gorski gave us the marching orders from Focus on the Family founder James Dobson. Then the Rev. Ted Haggard madness broke open and Dobson’s words to evangelicals were lost in an avalanche of news coverage.

But thankfully the Internet is archived and we will revisit Dobson’s fateful words from a week ago as voters make their way to the polling stations across the country:

James Dobson sounded a warning call Tuesday to evangelical Christian voters, painting the potential consequences of sitting out next week’s midterm elections in stark, partisan terms.

He described a liberal Democratic takeover of key congressional committees, a paralyzed Bush administration, and crippling setbacks in battles against abortion and gay marriage.

In Dobson’s daily national radio broadcast to 1.5 million people, the influential founder of Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family tackled what he called the media-fueled belief that evangelicals are disillusioned with Republicans and may not vote Tuesday.

“To all of those values voters out there, don’t you dare sit this one out,” Dobson said. “You have an obligation to come and participate in this great representative form of government. … If we do, I think the results will take care of themselves.”

The big question to determine is whether Dobson is working on his own or taking orders from the White House. And once the voting dust settles, someone will have to determine whether he was successful, regardless of whether it was Karl Rove or his own political instincts that inspired that radio broadcast.

karl rove and james dobsonFor more perspective from Dobson on how he sees the relationship of the Republican Party with his values voters, check out this scathing commentary directed toward former Texas Congressman Richard Armey. Dobson is of course upset that Armey would challenge his influence in the GOP with statements that Dobson and Co. act like a gangsters and bullies.

Again, it’s important to ask the question: is this editorial originating in Colorado or Washington?

As with the result of every election, reporters get to cover the bloodletting within the losing party. Regardless of the number of seats the GOP loses, there will be some type of soul-searching and a major focal point will be Dobson and those values voters. If things go poorly for the GOP, will it be akin to 2000, when Republicans held that with better turnout from values voters, they would have been more successful? In other words, were Dobson’s efforts to get out the vote unsuccessful?

Or will the Dick Armey camp of the GOP be successful in pushing Dobson and Co. out the door based on the idea that Dobson’s association with the Republicans has alienated the party from non-values voters? Check this space in the coming weeks for answers to those questions.

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Misusing Dylan

supreme courtYou might think that Linda “I am the Alpha and Omega of All Things Factual” Greenhouse would be particularly careful when resuming her Supreme Court coverage for The New York Times. After all, she made a strong statement advocating abortion in a recent public speech. She was also reprimanded years ago for marching in an abortion rights rally.

The Supreme Court is hearing arguments about the constitutionality of the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. Greenhouse’s story starts out with that helpful context, for which she is rightly praised:

In defining the permissible limits on access to abortion, only six years after declaring a similar restriction unconstitutional in a case from Nebraska, the court must go a long way toward defining its stance toward precedent, its relationship to Congress, and its view of its own role in the constitutional system. As it decides the new cases, the still-emerging Roberts court will inevitably be defining itself.

That much is clear from briefs submitted to the court by the abortion rights side, where many believe that their only hope of prevailing lies in persuading Justice Anthony M. Kennedy to reconsider the position he took in an emotionally laden dissenting opinion in the Nebraska case. Justice Kennedy said then that states should be able to outlaw “a procedure many decent and civilized people find so abhorrent as to be among the most serious of crimes against human life.”

Very well done. And the vast majority of the piece looks at how legal arguments are being crafted with the goal of convincing Kennedy. But as we get to the end of the piece, the center has trouble holding. Take this, for instance:

Abortion opponents are now the ones who describe the procedure as rare, seeking to offer reassurance that banning it would not deprive women of access to safe second-trimester abortions.

In fact, in their eagerness to portray the procedure as aberrant, the statute’s sponsors declared in the preamble that “no medical schools” teach it. In fact, it is taught at leading medical schools including Columbia, Cornell, Yale and New York University.

What Greenhouse must know is that major medical schools added the procedure to their curriculum in the past few years. Pro-life critics allege that this was a transparent move to help the abortion movement.

Whether or not she agrees with the charge, the manner in which Greenhouse presented medical schools’ support of the procedure is insufficient. Is she ignorant because she only spends times with pro-choice activists and thinks her opinions on abortion are unquestionable facts? Is she actively letting her bias on this contentious issue dictate her coverage? Will The New York Times‘ public editor think that Greenhouse has never been accused of bias because I’m not writing this directly to him?

bringing bigHere’s another problem area. Keep in mind that in the first paragraph of the story, Greenhouse used the positively marrowless phrase “terminating a pregnancy” to describe abortion:

“Infanticide” is a potent label, frequently used by abortion opponents. One brief describes the procedure as “killing a child in the birth process.” While this description is true in the sense that uninterrupted gestation leads to birth — “He not busy being born is busy dying,” in the words of the Bob Dylan song — it is well off the mark as a description of what actually occurs.

The standard procedure used by Dr. Warren M. Hern, the author of a widely consulted textbook on abortion and one of the leading providers of abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy, is to “induce fetal demise” by injecting a drug one or two days before the abortion.

As pointed out by Matthew Franck at Bench Memos, the Supreme Court will look at legislation passed by Congress that defines partial-birth abortion as one in which

(A) the person performing the abortion deliberately and intentionally vaginally delivers a living fetus until, in the case of a head-first presentation, the entire fetal head is outside the body of the mother, or, in the case of breech presentation, any part of the fetal trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother for the purpose of performing an overt act that theperson knows will kill the partially delivered living fetus; and

(B) performs the overt act, other than completion of delivery, that kills the partially delivered living fetus;

Pulitzer Prize-winning Supreme Court reporter Greenhouse must know that. So even if it is true that my fellow Coloradoan Hern — a bit of an outlandish character in the abortion battles — thinks that late-term abortion is usually performed by killing the fetus in utero, that has absolutely nothing to do with the Supreme Court debate at hand. The type of procedure he describes would not be banned by the federal law. The Supreme Court will look only at the federal ban on — as the brief she derides states — abortions performed on partially delivered fetuses. That’s a huge error on her part.

Hopefully Greenhouse will do better as the Supreme Court’s term proceeds.

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Hearing different Sunday morning messages

ben cardin and michael steeleA Jewish candidate and a Catholic candidate square off in a statewide race with national implications. What happened the Sunday before Election Day? They went to church, of course.

Just a few miles south of the hotly contested race for one of Maryland’s seats in the Senate, which pits Democratic Benjamin Cardin and Republican Michael Steele against each other, two major newspapers in the nation’s capital squared off in their coverage of the churchgoing politicians. A major issue in covering this collision of politics and religion is, of course, the possibility that their appearances could upset the Internal Revenue Service. Both reporters address the matter, albeit in very different ways.

The Washington Post‘s Ovetta Wiggins and Hamil Harris covered a range of services and came to the following conclusion regarding this hot-button issue:

Pastors exhorted their congregations to cast ballots tomorrow but were careful not to declare support for individual candidates, lest they run afoul of rules for nonprofit organizations.

“I think I’d get in major trouble if I made an endorsement,” Bishop Adam J. Richardson Jr. told the several hundred worshipers at Ebenezer AME Church in Fort Washington yesterday. “But I think I can say, ‘I wish you well.’”

Careful regarding the rules, you say? How about reporters being careful before making generalizations? How’s this for being careful? My friend Jon Ward of The Washington Times writes:

The top two candidates in Maryland’s U.S. Senate race attended black churches yesterday in the key battleground of Prince George’s County, and received clear and not-so-clear endorsements from the pulpits.

“Everyone who’s your color is not your kind,” the Rev. Delman L. Coates told the mostly black congregation at Mount Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton. “All your skinfolk is not your kinfolk.”

Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, the Democratic nominee, who is white, looked on from the front pew as Mr. Coates subtly disparaged supporters of Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, the Republican nominee and the first black elected to statewide office in Maryland.

“On Tuesday, we have to have more on our minds than color,” the preacher told the roughly 1,500 parishioners. He rattled off a list of unsympathetic black people, including the slave who alerted the masters to Nat Turner’s rebellion in 1831 and the black man who shot Malcolm X in 1965.

Ouch. That’s not very careful of Coates with regard to the IRS rules. Clearly the reporting by the Post‘s Wiggins and Harri was not as thorough as Ward’s. Or maybe two reporters cannot be at every church service and they should just avoid overarching statements like “Pastors … were careful not to declare support for individual candidates.”

It’s also important to note that the pastor may be able to skirt the official rules by phrasing his statement as “This is just what I think personally.” But is that what he is doing in his Sunday-morning sermon?

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Cheers! Left hits GetReligion tipping point

slambangoI don’t know about you, but after carrying a very heavy cyberload all weekend, I could use a bit of lightening up.

Thus, in that spirit, let me to take you over to the Religious Left Online blog, where the anonymous congregation recently had a bit of fun at our expense.

As a great entertainer liked to say, “And awaaaaaay we go“!

The GetReligion Drinking Game

I was cyberchatting with a friend and joking about starting a drinking game (sacremental wine, of course) one could play while reading GetReligion, the well-respected conservative website on religion and the media. The goal of a drinking game — as perfected by college students but now a pop culture metaphor — is taking a shot everytime something is mentioned that occurs so consistently and repetitively that it is guaranteed to get you drunk.

Despite the many strengths, there is a certain repetitiveness and predictability to the posts and conversation at GetReligion — just as there is on many websites. I laughed this morning when I saw a post that mentions both Katie Couric and Oprah since I would have been able to take two shots of sacremental wine when those perennial names surfaced. Other topics that win you a shot:

• Daniel Pulliam posting a topic on Mitt Romney

• Terry Mattingly mentioning his TMatt trio

• Someone taking a shot at contemporary Christian music, while also trying to defend it.

• Criticizing the evil, liberal agenda of the NYT and WP, while promoting the LAT.

• Criticizing Jon Meacham while taking a shot at Episcopalians.

And that was just this week. There’s also

• suggest that the Mainstream church is dying because they are too liberal

• a link to Terry’s column

• a mention of Rod — friend of the Blog — Dreher

• and a suggestion to a commenter that they need to read more since they haven’t arrived at the same perspective as the blogger.

Happy Drinking.

Well now. I tried to find a link for the Katie meets Oprah post, but could not find it in recent weeks. But I have no doubt at all that such a post exists. (Wait! He/she/it had the link on Religious Left Online.)

I could do an annoted version of the game and respond to these wonderful, witty observations on our blog and the blogosphere in general. It would be a blast to see the anonymous drinker and his crew do the same thing for, let’s say, Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish. In other words, take a shot every time Sullivan uses the term “Christianist.”

00000118But, as the Religious Leftinistas note, this is something that can be said of any blog that features the beliefs and interests of a specific writer or a small group of writers. Also, the GetReligion gang does not hide that we are both mainstream journalists and members of traditional Christian flocks.

Still, I will make a few comments.

Take a drink — this ex-Baptist says make it Dr Pepper, the Mogen David of Texas Baptist life — every time I defend The New York Times, praise its correction system or note the brave candor of its editor.

Take a drink whenever we praise individual writers within the very newspapers that we often criticize. The fabulous Laurie Goodstein leaps to mind.

Take a drink whenever we stress that doctrine matters more than political labels, something that many leaders on the right forget as often as people on the left. This is what that whole tmatt trio thing is about.

Take a drink whenever we plug Poynter.org, the Pew Forum and others who note that we need more diversity in American newsrooms, diversity in terms of life experiences and educational backgrounds included.

Anyone else want to nominate some, uh, tipping points in the GetReligion cyberpages? Does anyone dare head over to Religious Left Online and do a game for that blog? No, not me. And one of my co-workers has a great idea. He says that the Religious left folks — they could use special make up to remain anonymous — need to actually stage the drinking game and record it as a YouTube video. Just do it.

Still, thanks to the anonymous Religious Leftistas for their careful and faithful reading. I wish that more conservatives spent more time doing similar reading on the left side of the cyberchurch aisle.

P.S. What’s with the thing about me shooting at Contemporary Christian Music while also defending it? That did puzzle me. I mean, there are artists out there trapped in CCM who I think are quite good, and I hope they escape into the mainstream, unless their calling really is to sing to the church and the converted. That’s the one drinking-game item that puzzled me the most.

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The PB and her amazing technicolor dreamcoat

Jefferts Schori investitureThe Episcopal Church invested a new leader this weekend. Katharine Jefferts Schori was elected the first female presiding bishop in June, and media reports then focused on the milestone. Jefferts Schori’s election also provoked a possible schism in the church because of her vote to confirm the election of a gay bishop, among other things.

I was curious whether the papers would feature hard-hitting pieces analyzing the threat posed by the investiture or whether they’d be cheerleading pieces. Let’s begin with Alan Cooperman’s lede for his Washington Post story:

Wearing multicolored vestments that represent a new dawn, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori formally took office yesterday as the first woman to lead the Episcopal Church and promised to seek healing and wholeness in a denomination threatened by schism.

Represent a new dawn? I know that Friday was National Cliche Day, but that seems to be laying it on a bit thick for the first paragraph, no? I believe that Jefferts Schori referred to her color choices as representing dawn, but it would help to attribute the phrase to her if it must be used.

Further, the meaning of the multicolored vestments isn’t explained. In liturgical churches, certain colors are associated with particular seasons of the church year. According to The Episcopal Church, liturgical colors include white or gold for Christmas and Easter; blue or violet for Advent; and red for Holy Week, Pentecost, and ordinations. Clergy’s stoles match the season, generally. Deviating from church traditions means something, I’m sure. Louis Sahagun’s Los Angeles Times piece also mentions the liturgical color changes with only slightly more explanation. You may also be interested in Julia Duin’s Washington Times piece from earlier in the week that anticipated the event.

Still, Cooperman devotes many straightforward and helpful paragraphs to explaining the nature of the division in the Anglican Communion:

But several primates in the Global South — developing countries where Anglicanism is fast growing and deeply traditional — have said that they will have difficulty sitting down with her, not so much because she is a woman as because of her views on homosexuality and theology.

Jefferts Schori . . .voted in 2003 to confirm the election of New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Anglican prelate. She has also supported blessings for same-sex couples, and she has said that, although she believes in salvation through Jesus, she does not think Christianity is the only path to God.

Those positions fall on one side of an increasingly bitter fault line in the U.S. church. Seven of the 111 Episcopal dioceses have rejected her authority, though they have stopped short of formally breaking away from the denomination. Some individual parishes have cut all ties to the Episcopal Church and have affiliated with more orthodox Anglican provinces overseas.

Don’t get me wrong: A pastor of a huge church cheating on his spouse with a male prostitute while using crystal methamphetamines is a really big deal. But so is leading a national Christian church body while not believing that Jesus is necessary for salvation. Isn’t it interesting how much coverage one story gets and how thoroughly pedestrian the other is considered?

RobinsonAnd on a related note, here’s a snippet from an email that was sent to me today by a reporter:

A pastor is married for years, has children, runs a successful church, advances in his denomination/sector of Christianity, and then “finds himself” and abandons wife and children for a live-in situation with another man. His reward? Consecration as a bishop in the Protestant Episcopal Church of America and wide-ranging media praise. LATimes, I believe, had a nice kiss-up interview with Gene Robinson just this week.

Another pastor apparently is married for years, has children, builds and runs a a successful church, advances in his denomination/sector of Christianity, fights temptation and loses, stays with his family, and when the dam breaks, is crucified in the press as his reward.

Whatever else you may think of these stories, there’s really no question that most reporters think only involves moral failure. How does that affect the coverage?

It would also be interesting to track which story ends up having the bigger fallout. That depends, of course, on whether Robinson’s story leads the 77 million-member Anglican Communion into schism.

Note: The liturgical stole pictured above is not the one worn by the new presiding bishop. This non-traditional stole comes from an online store for liberal churches. To see the vestments work by Jefferts Schori, click here for an Episcopal News Service photo from the event.

Note: The communications office at The Episcopal Church kindly notified us that we do have permission to use their photos. So I have replaced the original picture (which you can see here) with a picture of Jefferts Schori’s actual vestments. May there be peace in the land!

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Ted Haggard, the symbolic centrist

ministries 1371 1Over the past few days, I have been watching the coverage of the Rev. Ted Haggard fiasco carefully to see how many journalists understand one of the most important facts in this story.

What is that fact? Haggard is not a leader of the old Religious Right. For many people, he was the charismatic face of a more moderate brand of evangelicalism that backs the traditional Christian doctrines on the hot issues linked to sex and marriage, but also carries that “Culture of Life” emphasis over into discussions of poverty, the environment, the spread of AIDS, economic justice in the Third World and other issues.

Yet, at the same time, he was one of the new “moderate” evangelicals who had not lost the trust of the old-guard evangelical alpha males symbolized by Dr. James Dobson and Charles Colson. Haggard was a bridge personality, in other words. This made him an important figure for the White House, since he was an evangelical — but not among the old faces that everyone is used to seeing on the cable TV shows (think Pat Robertson) that President Bush has avoided like the plague.

It isn’t hard to find out this fact about the now resigned head of the National Association of Evangelicals. All one has to do is Google “Haggard,” “evanglicals” and “environment” and some pretty obvious links pop up. In fact, the evangelicals-that-the-New-York-Times-can-love template was kind of a cliche there for a few months. Click here to see what I am talking about.

It’s no surprise that there are hints of this reality in coverage by the talented and fair-minded Stephanie Simon of the Los Angeles Times. For example, she wrote:

A father of five who dresses in blue jeans and drives a Chevy pickup, Haggard is well-known, and widely praised, as an energetic, charismatic pastor who has pushed to expand evangelical activism into issues such as global warming and world poverty. But he hasn’t shied away from the traditional culture-war issues of abortion and homosexuality.

A lengthy profile in Harper’s magazine — which is quoted approvingly on Haggard’s website — recounts how he built New Life Church in part by hanging out at gay bars and inviting the patrons to come to his sermons and be saved.

Under Haggard’s leadership, the National Assn. of Evangelicals, which has 30 million members, reaffirmed a policy statement that describes homosexuality as “a deviation from the Creator’s plan” and calls same-sex relations a sin that, “if persisted in … excludes one from the Kingdom of God.”

Note the presence of the words “if persisted in.” That is a fine point that applies to all kinds of activities that traditional Christian believers consider sin.

In addition to Simon, reporter Myung Oak Kim at the Rocky Mountain News has included some references to Haggard’s moderating role in modern evangelicalism. (I am sure there are other articles of this type that I have missed in the deluge. My apologies, in advance.) In an article on Haggard and national politics, Kim uses language that is very similar to that of Simon:

Within the evangelical community, Haggard is considered a moderate. Since becoming president of the 30 million-member evangelical organization in 2003, he has worked to broaden the mission of the NAE beyond hot-button issues like homosexuality and abortion to environmental consciousness, fighting poverty and promoting international human rights. …

BK TH001 250pixelsAnd in her latest story, Simon carries these themes even further. While many focus on the impact of the scandal on Republican politics, it is much more important for journalists to ask how it may or may not affect the fault lines within modern evangelicalism.

Thus, Simon writes:

Jesse Lava, who runs an online community called Faithful Democrats, said he hoped Haggard’s call for more activism on issues like poverty would gain traction in the coming months as his followers confronted “the fact of human fallibility” and remembered that “we need to address people in need with grace and compassion.”

But political scientist John Green, a senior fellow with the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, predicted the opposite effect. Haggard’s push for action on global warming raised hackles among powerful leaders on the religious right. With Haggard discredited, those leaders may be able to swing the focus back to issues such as abortion. Or the evangelical movement — a solid GOP bloc over several election cycles — could splinter.

“This could have quite profound implications for how evangelicals [affect] politics in the future,” Green said, “long after we’ve forgotten the results of this coming election.”

Of course, there is no need to “swing the focus” back to abortion. That is the issue that never, ever, goes away in American politics — in either party. Ask the Democrats who are biting their tongues while a few culturally conservative Democrats in key red zip codes try to win some Hill seats that may return the party to power. The issue is whether the evangelical agenda narrows and narrows and narrows, while the old guard lose trust in the leaders who are trying to take their place.

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Father Ted Haggard? Say what?

AmyHaggard1After a wild Friday on the Colorado Springs front, I think I can safely say that there is more news and fallout to come.

There does not seem, however, to be much new in the basic stories today. Here is a link to the ongoing coverage at the Colorado Springs Gazette, which, of course, has the best collection of local sidebars out there at the moment (for those who care about the impact of all of this on that giant New Life congregation). It does appear that Haggard will address the congregation on Sunday.

I wonder if that is the event that totally pulls the TV networks into this pre-election firestorm.

Timing, timing, timing.

However, on a personal note, I will be away from my computer keyboard all of today, speaking at a national Orthodox Christian Laity conference here in Baltimore at the College of Notre Dame.

The topic is “The Present State & Future of Orthodoxy in America.” Speakers include Archbishop Lazar of the All American Saints Monastery in British Columbia, Father Peter Gillquist of the Antiochian Orthodox Department of Missions and Evangelism, Andrew Natsios, formerly of the U.S. State Department and now the White House special envoy for Sudan, and others. My topic is “So What Do the Converts Want, Anyway?” I do not know if audio or text versions of the talks will be posted in the future. I will ask. I am not expecting coverage in the Baltimore Sun.

Please keep us posted on major stories that you see today about the Ted Haggard story (please leave comments with URLs on the many posts already up) and also the coverage of the consecration of the new presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church and any pre-election developments. It will be a busy day.

But before I vanish I wanted to point GetReligion readers toward an interesting graphic that was included with a longer post at Amy Welborn’s Open Book site. Click here to see her whole post.

It seems that the WTSP-TV producers in Tampa Bay had a rather one-track mind when they selected art for their website’s original post of the Haggard story. Then the folks at the CBS affiliate changed the art to something that, in some ways, was even worse. Welborn explains the sequence.

Now it appears that the art is totally gone.

I had no idea that Haggard was a Roman Catholic priest. I also had no idea that this story was directly linked to Holy Week. Yes, Easter has to follow Good Friday. But I don’t think that theological point was what the producers were thinking about.

Now, the station has added this correction at the end of the article:

WTSP apologizes for our earlier inclusion of a photograph of a Roman Catholic priest’s collar. The inclusion of the photo was not intentional.


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