Friday Five: SBC wrap-up, Catholic hotline, #ChurchToo, abuse lawsuits, cult ranch, VeggieTales


Southern Baptists in Birmingham. Roman Catholics in Baltimore.

Clergy sexual abuse scandals, obviously, high on the agendas in both places. Lots of reporters in the house, in both places.

Yes, the annual meeting of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination and the spring general assembly of U.S. Catholic bishops made lots of headlines this week.

So we better dive right into the Friday Five:

1. Religion story of the week: The Tennessean’s Holly Meyer has a nice wrap-up of the SBC meeting, reporting on three ways churches will tackle abuse after the meeting.

The Washington Post’s Sarah Pulliam Bailey also has an interesting roundup, explaining that while the SBC took action, some question whether it’s enough.

Meanwhile, the Post’s Julie Zauzmer and Michelle Boorstein delve into the pros and cons of the Catholic bishops’ decision to create a hotline for reporting abuse.

Some of the GetReligion posts on the Baptists and Catholics this week:

• Matt Chandler's 'interview' at the SBC shows how not to deal with bad press, by Julia Duin.

Big journalism question: Would new U.S. bishops hotline have nabbed 'Uncle Ted' McCarrick?, by Terry Mattingly.

Kick 'em out? Southern Baptists seek ways to fight sexual abuse in autonomous local churches, by Mattingly.

Vatican ‘wags the dog’ on McCarrick and the American press is powerless against it, by Clemente Lisi.

Ready, set, go! The much-anticipated Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting starts in 3, 2, 1 ... by me.

Baptists and bishops: Must-read pair of weekend thinkers from Russell Moore and J.D. Flynn, by Mattingly.

2. Most popular GetReligion post: Our most-clicked item of the week was Terry Mattingly’s piece on “That strong New York Times #ChurchToo horror story — with clues pointing to big SBC issues.”

“You see, there are reasons that SBC leaders — the ones who truly want to act — have struggled to come up with a one-plan-fits-all proposal to crack down on the monsters in their midst,” tmatt wrote.

Here’s the thesis: “The Southern Baptists have a real problem, here, and it’s not going to go away. It’s a theological problem, as well as a legal one. The autonomy of the local congregation is a concept at the very heart of what Baptists (and other “free church” bodies) believe about THE CHURCH, as in the New Testament Body of Christ. Asking Baptists to tweak that doctrine — creating an authoritative institution to handle this crisis — would be like asking Catholics to knock the pope off the Throne of St. Peter.”

Read it all.

3. Guilt folder fodder (and more): Liz Navratil and Peter Smith of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report that a Pennsylvania court ruling could open the door to more decades-old clergy abuse lawsuits.

According to the Post-Gazette, a state appellate court ruled that a child sex abuse survivor's lawsuit against the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown — filed after a 2016 grand jury report revealed decades of abuse and coverup there — can proceed to a jury.

4. Shameless plug: GetReligion’s Julia Duin has written a couple of interesting pieces recently for Religion Unplugged.

In one, Duin goes inside the Christian camp that used to be Oregon’s infamous cult ranch.

In the other, she writes about the nuns who built a monastery but are known for their bakery.

5. Final thought: On behalf of Bob and Larry, here’s hoping that Katherine Burgess of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn., and all the other religion writers who parked at the mammoth Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex eventually located their vehicles.

Happy Friday, everybody! Enjoy the weekend!

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