Friday Five: Pastor suicide, religion of Congress, Catholic sex wars, frugal philanthropist, cow holiday

I missed this incredible story in the midst of celebrating Christmas.

A few days before the holiday, the Los Angeles Times published Hailey Branson-Potts’ compelling and important piece on a young pastor who preached about depression then killed himself a few days later.

Speaking of the Los Angeles Times, that paper has been boosting its staff since its $500 million purchase last summer by Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who has voiced a desire to compete with the Washington Post and the New York Times.

As far as I know, the Los Angeles Times hasn’t hired a full-time religion writer as part of its revival, but that would be a tremendous step, right? Who wants to organize the petition?

In the meantime, let’s dive into the Friday Five:

1. Religion story of the week: Congress is getting more diverse, but it’s still dominated by Christians, according to a Pew Research Center study cited by CNN’s Daniel Burke, Religion News Service’s Jack Jenkins, the Deseret News’ Kelsey Dallas, NPR’s Tom Gjelten and others.

In related news, the Washington Post — in a story produced by Godbeat pros Michelle Boorstein and Julie Zauzmer, along with Marisa Iati reported on the swearing in of the nation’s first two Muslim congresswomen.

Burke praised “a great profile by a great reporter” of one of those Muslim congresswomen: His wife Melissa Nann Burke’s Detroit News story noted that U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., is set to be an “activist legislator” rooted in her district.

By the end of Thursday, Tlaib was offering more fodder — warning: vulgarity coming — for exploration by enterprising religion writers:

"People love you. And you win," she told a cheering crowd in a 20-second video published on Twitter. "And when your son looks at you and says, 'Momma, look you won, bullies don’t win.' And I said, 'Baby, they don't,' because we’re gonna go in there and we're gonna impeach the mother****er."

For any Godbeat pros who pursue that story, Michael Wear — who directed faith outreach for former President Barack Obama — might be a good source.

2. Most popular GetReligion post: News on Catholics and sex — what’s the over-under on how many times a post related to that occupies this space in 2019?

This week’s most-clicked commentary is Editor Terry Mattingly’s piece noting that “When covering Catholic wars over sex, it's clear there are questions the Gray Lady refuses to ask.” That post concerns the New York Times’ recent front-page story headlined “He Was a Gay Man on Staff at a Catholic Parish. Then the Threats Began Coming.”

That’s the latest of many mainstream news reports blasting Catholic institutions for attempting to defend church doctrines on sexuality. to be blunt, tmatt referred to this Times piece as a “jeremiad” (look it up).

3. Guilt folder fodder (and more): Is there a holy ghost in the story of a social worker who led a frugal life and left nearly $11 million to children’s charities?

I don’t know. My Googling has turned up no conclusive evidence. But NPR’s report notes that Alan Naiman’s beneficiaries included his parents’ Catholic church.

What do you think?

4. Shameless plug: What were some of the most-clicked GetReligion items of 2018?

I ran down the Top Five posts for tmatt, Julia Duin and myself in an end-of-the-year analysis.

Check it out.

5. Final thought: Those had to be Chick-fil-A cows, right?

Happy Friday, everybody!

Enjoy the first weekend of 2019!

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