Changing climate — of church views on the environment

USA Today has been eroding its standard of short, shallow stories. And for a complex newsfeature like its recent story on religion and global warming, that is an exceedingly good thing. The article focuses on the effort to sell global warming to church people. Religion and the environment is an evergreen topic — I wrote a long feature on it more than a decade ago — but USA Today writer Gregg Zoroya takes the interesting tactic of leading with a… Read more

Pod people: Gunga Galunga goes CNN

Carl: So I jump ship in Hong Kong and I make my way over to Tibet, and I get on as a looper at a course over in the Himalayas. Angie: A looper? Carl: A looper, you know, a caddy, a looper, a jock. So, I tell them I’m a pro jock, and who do you think they give me? The Dalai Lama, himself. Twelfth son of the Lama. The flowing robes, the grace, bald… striking. So, I’m on the… Read more

Are evangelicals America’s only real moral conservatives?

Nearly a decade ago, the conservative Weekly Standard ran a very newsy story on its cover under this ominous double-decker headline: Banned in Boston The coming conflict between same-sex marriage and religious liberty. The story shocked quite a few people and, behind the scenes, I know that many journalists linked to the religion beat passed it around, in part because so much of its reporting — even in the pages of a consevative magazine — centered on the complex and… Read more

On Hobby Lobby, explain that ‘deeply held religious belief’

You got so close, Philadelphia Inquirer. You got so close to a fair, enlightening news story on a Democratic senator who says he opposes abortion but rejects the religious concerns raised by Hobby Lobby in its recent U.S. Supreme Court win. But here’s where you fell way short: in providing crucial details concerning the actual religious objections involved. Your story seems to get politics. Religion? Not so much. The Inquirer report, of course, was published before a Democratic bill to reverse… Read more

Concerning the latest (alleged) interview with Pope Francis

So how would you like to be a press officer for the Vatican these days? Honestly, they should be getting combat pay. Here is the question that I have been asking, during the latest round of the game called, “What did the pope say and who says that he said it?” In terms of basic journalism craft and ethics, what is an “interview”? Here is the top of a Reuters report that shows why I am asking this: ROME, July… Read more

Should Louisiana priest say what he heard in confession?

Dead men file no lawsuits. They also don’t defend themselves to TV reporters. And live priests don’t divulge what they hear in the confessional. That frees news media like WBRZ-TV to pile on the bias without being sued or contradicted. Rebecca Mayeux, 20, told the Baton Rouge station that she was molested when she was 14 by George Charlet Jr., a fellow parishioner at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church. She says she went three times about it to… Read more

For Cologne archbishop, Reuters emits a scent of bias

The new archbishop of Cologne, Germany, is all about gays. At least it is, according to a Reuters story on the transfer of Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki there from Berlin. A full 203 of the story’s 430 words deal with what he thinks, or says, or what Reuters thinks he says, about homosexuality: But Woekli surprised Berliners by saying he respected all people and would gladly meet with gay activists. A year later, in 2012, he said: “If two homosexuals… Read more

Cruz bounces back, with the help of family and, maybe, faith

There is a reason sports fans see so many media images of professional athletes wearing those omnipresent Beats headphones in locker rooms. Most athletes these days use music as a way to get pumped up before games and then to cool down afterwards. The problem, of course, is that the typical locker room is going to have a lot of trouble coming up with a common play list for what will end up at high volume on the big speakers…. Read more

So, what religions use mind-altering drugs?

MICHAEL-ANN’S QUESTION: While millions observed Easter Sunday or the Passover season April 20, some folks were celebrating the annual “4-20,” numerical code for the marijuana subculture. That coincidence caused Michael-Ann to wonder “how many religions use weed (and other mind-altering drugs) to reach spirituality?” THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER: The best-known example is the Rastafarians, who are deeply rooted in Jamaica and among U.S. immigrants from that nation. Rastas, easily identified by their dreadlocks, smoke “ganga” in worship though they prohibit… Read more

Hero or troubled soul: Dallas pastor takes his life

Right from the start, a long Page 1 story in The Dallas Morning News portrays the Rev. Charles Moore as a hero. The headline on the weekend story: In dying act, minister hoped to inspire social justice The top of the 1,750-word story: From segregated churches of East Texas to destitute slums of India, the Rev. Charles Moore fought for human rights. He delivered sermons about racism and sexism. He stood vigil against the death penalty. He went on a hunger… Read more