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 at times clashing legal views inside gay-rights groups.
The story opened like this:
Catholic Charities of Boston made the announcement on March 10: It was getting out of the adoption business. “We have encountered a dilemma we cannot resolve. … The issue is adoption to same-sex couples.”
It was shocking news. Catholic Charities of Boston, one of the nation’s oldest adoption agencies, had long specialized in finding good homes for hard to place kids. “Catholic Charities was always at the top of the list,” Paula Wisnewski, director of adoption for the Home for Little Wanderers, told the Boston Globe. “It’s a shame because it is certainly going to mean that fewer children from foster care are going to find permanent homes.” Marylou Sudders, president of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, said simply, “This is a tragedy for kids.”
How did this tragedy happen?
It’s a complicated story.
Please note that this was also a Catholic story. It centered on a conflict between Catholic doctrines and a trend in American life. You can find similar stories about Orthodox Jews, if you dig deep enough. And, of course, you can find stories about conflicts linked to the life and work of evangelical Protestants, such as the owners of Hobby Lobby.
Now, let me stress that this is not a post about gay marriage and it’s not a post about religious liberty (sort of).
This is not even — as is the norm here at GetReligion — a post about a piece of mainstream news writing on a religion news or trend. Instead it’s a post pointing readers toward an Atlantic Monthly essay that, while puzzling, is must reading for people who work on the religion beat or who frequently consume religion news.
So what is so puzzling about this important article?
Things get strange right in the headline:
Is Evangelical Morality Still Acceptable in America?
And here is the opening of this essay by Alan Noble: