Mark Hemingway takes GetReligion-like stroll through years of New York Times religion gaffes

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There was an interesting op-ed the other day in The New York Post that had a very GetReligion-esque feel to it, to say the least. The headline stated: “New York Times hits new low with mortifying Notre Dame correction.”

Then there was that familiar Hemingway byline.

“Mark Hemingway, that is.”

I realize that I have already written a post about this latest Gray Lady offense against 2,000 years of Christian doctrine, history and language. If you missed that one, click here: “Priest rushes under the flames inside Notre Dame Cathedral to save a ... STATUE of Jesus?” Here is a refresher, care of Hemingway:

… The New York Times later appended this correction to the story: “An earlier version of this article misidentified one of two objects recovered from Notre-Dame by the Rev. Jean-Marc Fournier. It was the Blessed Sacrament, not a statue of Jesus.”

How could the newspaper possibly confuse these two things? The most logical explanation is that Father Fournier referred to the “body of Christ,” and the reporter took his words literally and not seriously. It doesn’t appear to be a translation error; the reporter who wrote the story, Elian Peltier, appears to be fluent in French and tweets in the language regularly.

Why return to this subject?

What Hemingway offers in this short piece is a collection of stunning and, at times, unintentionally hilarious Times errors linked to essential Christian doctrines — including the narrative of Holy Week and Easter. (For Western Christians, this past Sunday was Easter. For Eastern Christians, such as myself, this week is Holy Week and this coming Sunday is Pascha, or Easter.)

Since we are talking about GetReligion basics, let me stress that no one believes that editors at the Times — the world’s most prestigious newspaper — need to BELIEVE these essentials of Christianity. The goal is to understand them well enough to be able to write about them without making embarrassing errors. Try to imagine Times-people making errors like these when dealing with the basics of Judaism, Islam or, for heaven’s sake, the latest Democratic Party platform.

So, care of Hemingway, here are a few more flashbacks — picking up where we left off.

… Embarrassing as Peltier’s gaffe might be, it’s hard to top this correction the venerable paper ran in 2013: “An earlier version of this article mischaracterized the Christian holiday of Easter. It is the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, not his resurrection into heaven.”

A reporter for the paper had apparently confused the resurrection with the ascension into heaven.

Speaking of Easter, how about this error in an article on Israeli tourism?

“Nearby, the vast Church of the Holy Sepulcher marking the site where many Christians believe Jesus is buried, usually packed with pilgrims, was echoing and empty,” observed the Times.

Again, the whole point of the resurrection is that Jesus rose from his tomb. He isn’t buried anywhere.

Ah, some of you may be thinking. But there are Christians who don’t believe in the resurrection (a fact that appears, from time to time, in the Times).

That would be correct. But that isn’t what that passage said, is it? It stated that Holy Sepulcher marks the “site where many Christians believe Jesus is buried” [italics added]. I don’t even think people at folks at Union Theological Seminary in New York City think that is the case.

Rolling on. Here is a mistake that I had missed completely:

In 2014, there was this doozy of a correction in an article about Mayor Bill de Blasio: “An earlier version of this article misquoted a comment from Malachy McCourt on St. Patrick. Mr. McCourt said, ‘My attitude is, St. Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland, and they all came here and they became conservatives.’ He did not say St. Patrick banished the slaves from Ireland.”

By all means, read it all. And it you want even more background, flash back to this GetReligion post from 2016: “New York Times editor: We just don't get (a) religion, (b) the alt-right or (c) whatever.”

FIRST IMAGE: An old inside joke popular with GetReligion alumni.

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