Churches of Christ

No, Lester Holt didn't used to be the lead singer at his church. He used to lead SINGING

No, Lester Holt didn't used to be the lead singer at his church. He used to lead SINGING

On its website as I type this, celebrity magazine US Weekly features an "exclusive" profile of "NBC Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt.

Right under a report that "Kim Kardashian Says That Caitlyn Jenner's Book Is 'So Hurtful,'" Holt's first-person piece highlights "25 Things You Don't Know About Me."

Things such as Holt's fear of snakes, love of Mexican food and lack of prowess when it comes to mechanical things. ("I once installed a garage shelf that then collapsed, sending buckets of paint falling onto our babysitter's car," he says.)

But it's thing No. 11 that's interesting from a GetReligion perspective:

11. I used to be the lead singer in church.

The only problem: That's not actually true.

Holt, it appears, is the victim of an editing error — an error presumably made by someone who didn't grasp the intricacies of Holt's specific religious background. Does your inquiring mind want to know more?

I am familiar with Holt's Church of Christ ties because of my work as chief correspondent for The Christian Chronicle. In a visit to New York several years ago, I interviewed the newsman about faith and journalism. 

Here at GetReligion, we also have highlighted Holt's faith previously: 

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Thinking outside the bricks: Sensitive Washington Post piece reports fate of empty church buildings

Thinking outside the bricks: Sensitive Washington Post piece reports fate of empty church buildings

Church rolls may drop, but the buildings don’t always fall to the wrecking ball -- some of them are converted to condos. That trend is the focus of a story in the Washington Post that is at once factual, thoughtful and sensitive.

The smoothly written piece is a massive 1,480 words, yet it reads rather fast. It gives us an overview of the situation across the nation's capital. It offers a few insights on how professionals convert church buildings. And it shows a soothing feel for the concerns of the people who had to leave their sacred spaces.

Church conversions are a kind of gentrification, but with a difference, as the Post points out.

"As churches’ congregations move to the suburbs and D.C. property values soar, increasing numbers of religious institutions are selling their properties in the city, usually with plans to move closer to their congregants," the paper says.  "But … some experts say that a church’s former life as a sacred space requires a particular kind of respect."

The Post gets into the expected issues of restoring a big building with neglected windows, plumbing and HVAC.  It deals also with how to divide up a big room that's built around a pulpit. But it's much more, says writer Amanda Abrams. 

A freelance writer who is not a religion specialist, Abrams might have well gotten caught up in those mundane details. But no, she recalls the reason for the buildings -- and so do her sources:

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Here is today's strange Godbeat AP style question: Are Lutherans also Christians?

Here is today's strange Godbeat AP style question: Are Lutherans also Christians?

Your GetReligionistas love to hear from veteran religion-beat professionals, in part because journalists who have spent years covering this complicated news topic can spot subtle, and often humorous, issues when they pop up in news reports.

Take issues of journalism style, for example. Now, your average blog reader may not get excited about references to tricky issues in the Associate Press Stylebook, but this is the kind of thing that fires up veteran editors and reporters.

After all, if you don’t know your AP style and some church history you can end up printing a story that says that Lutherans aren’t Christians.

Yes, that happened the other day in a Chicago Tribune story that ran with this headline: “County defends surprise church inspections.” Thus, I received this note from a religion-beat veteran:

This caught my eye. … The zoning dispute doesn’t bother me, it’s the weird contrast of Lutheran with Christian. “He was a baseball player before he became an athlete” would be a fair comparison.

Say what? Here is the strange passage in context, right at the top of this business-like story about a rather business-like topic:

For as long as Hillcrest Christian Church has been around, and that's more than 40 years, parishioners and church leaders always assumed the building and grounds were part of Hazel Crest, the community that surrounds the property.
Turns out they were wrong.

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Revisiting ESPN's Man in the Van: Why was this pitcher baptized in his baseball uniform?

Revisiting ESPN's Man in the Van: Why was this pitcher baptized in his baseball uniform?

Get ready for some ghostbusting.

Way back in March, we spotted holy ghosts in an otherwise terrific ESPN the Magazine profile of highly touted pitcher Daniel Norris, then with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Readers had alerted us to the story's blatant avoidance of religion.

In my critique of the ESPN story, I wrote:

Given how much Norris talks about his faith, there's no way ESPN missed the religion angle. The magazine obviously chose to ignore it, and that's a shame.
Granted, ESPN still produced a fascinating story — a solid double off the wall.
But the magazine missed a chance to hit a straight-down-the-middle fastball out of the park.

Fast-forward more than six months, and Norris now pitches for the Detroit Tigers (he's the scheduled starter vs. the Chicago White Sox tonight). Detroit obtained Norris in late July in a deal that sent former American League Cy Young Award winner David Price to Toronto.

Typically at GetReligion, we are not in a position to ask the actual source of a story about the handling of the religion content. 

But on a recent reporting trip to Detroit, I interviewed Norris, a member of the Central Church of Christ in Johnson City, Tenn., for The Christian Chronicle.

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'Modest' bathing suits featured on Wall Street Journal's front page — what's religion got to do with it?

'Modest' bathing suits featured on Wall Street Journal's front page — what's religion got to do with it?

Today's Wall Street Journal features a front-page trend story on "modest" bathing suits.

I read the lede and immediately felt my GetReligion Spidey sense tingle:

WEST ORANGE, N.J. — When Deborah Nixon heads to her local pool in her swimsuit — a pair of long black leggings and a matching short-sleeved top like surfers wear — she gets compliments and admiring glances, at least from other women.
“It is the New Sexy,” says Ms. Nixon. The 58-year-old, who has abandoned her conventional one-piece bathing suit in favor of the more elaborate get-up, is convinced she looks and feels better with less of her showing.
A whole lot less.
Ms. Nixon, a former nurse and retired captain in the U.S. Public Health Service, is a fan of so-called modest swimsuits. This increasingly popular style of beachwear is a far cry — and for some women a welcome relief — from the skimpy bikinis and bare-all Brazilian bottoms that have dominated beach fashions.

A little personal background: Growing up in Churches of Christ in the South, we didn't believe in "mixed bathing," which referred to boys and girls swimming together. My family did watch "The Love Boat" on Saturday nights, which always confused me. Not that I complained.

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Man in the Van: ESPN makes solid contact but fails to hit easy fastball out of the park

Man in the Van: ESPN makes solid contact but fails to hit easy fastball out of the park

Time flies.

Five years and roughly 675 posts ago, I made my GetReligion debut on March 8, 2010.

In my introductory post, I wrote:

For a faithful GetReligion reader such as myself, joining the team of contributors is like a baseball fan invited to sit in the press box and share his opinions during the World Series. Although it's not quite in the same league as my beloved Texas Rangers, I'm a big fan of this weblog and its endeavor to pinpoint and expose the religion ghosts in the secular news media.

During GetReligion's 10th anniversary celebration last year, I shared my list of "Five things they didn't tell me."

But for my own GR-versary, the boss man Terry Mattingly — aka tmatt — suggested that I critique ESPN The Magazine's recent "Man in the Van" feature as a tribute to all 10 of our readers who care about religion and sports.

"Sure thing," I replied, welcoming any excuse to write about baseball.

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Say what?!? Organ music at 'Duck Dynasty' church?

Say what?!? Organ music at 'Duck Dynasty' church?

The White's Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, La., is making headlines these days as the home congregation of the Robertson family of "Duck Dynasty" fame.

For me, mention of the White's Ferry Road church brings back fond memories totally unrelated to duck hunting or reality television. That's because -- for two years during my early childhood -- the Ouachita River community of West Monroe was my hometown and the White's Ferry Road church my home congregation, as I shared in a 2012 column.

In light of the controversy over "Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson's comments on homosexuality, The Associated Press sent a reporter to cover Sunday services at the Louisiana church this past weekend.

The top of the story:

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Pod people: How not to write an attack piece

On one long winter workday in camp, as I was lugging a wheelbarrow together with another man, I asked myself how one might portray the totality of our camp existence. In essence it should suffice to give a thorough description of a single day, providing minute details and focusing on the most ordinary kind of worker; that would reflect the entirety of our experience. It wouldn’t even be necessary to give examples of any particular horrors. It shouldn’t be an extraordinary day at all, but rather a completely unremarkable one, the kind of day that will add up to years. That was my conception and it lay dormant in my mind for nine years.

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In post-denominational age, what's in a name?

Joe Carter, our newest GetReligionista, referenced Southern Baptist name-change discussions in a post earlier this week. It’s a topic that GetReligion has tackled a time or two before — or more.

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