Gay Marriage

Bias and inaccuracy: New York Daily News on gays and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

Bias and inaccuracy: New York Daily News on gays and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

Like the clichéd "pig in a python," mainstream media have been slowly digesting the story of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and its newly announced policy on gays. But some news outfits aren’t digesting the chunks well.

Time.com last week broke the news that the Christian college organization asked its 1,300 employees to fess up if they disagreed with IVCF's stated beliefs on same-sex marriage -- then make plans to leave the organization.

We're now seeing the usual reaction from bloggers and columnists: everyone from Christian Today to Gay Star News to the Huffington Post.

Except for the likes of the New York Daily News. They couldn't wait for the opinion phase -- they had to add it to the news article.

Here is the paper's idea of a news lede:

The Bible states that you "shall not oppress a stranger."
But one of the largest evangelical college groups in the country appears to be doing just that, as it recently told its 1,300 staffers that they will be fired if they support gay marriage or deviate from any of the organization's strict positions on sexuality.
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship USA recently sent out a six-page letter saying the national group will initiate "involuntary terminations" for all staff members who support LGBTQ people's right to marry.

My first reaction: "Geez, I wonder how gays feel about a lede like that? Being called strangers?"

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Devout Catholic™ Kaine breaks with his church on gay marriage, with media blessing

Devout Catholic™ Kaine breaks with his church on gay marriage, with media blessing

Tim Kaine has officially joined the ranks of Devout Catholic™.

How do we know? Because he says he's Catholic, yet criticizes the Church.

The Democratic vice presidential nominee played weekend prophet and theologian when he told the Human Rights Campaign that the Catholic Church will eventually change its teachings against same-sex marriage. 

But that wasn't the cardinal sin of the day. The worst was the unthinking, habit-bound, codeword-laced coverage by mainstream media -- especially calling Kaine yet another Devout Catholic™.

Count the Chicago Tribune among the worst offenders:

Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine is predicting that the Roman Catholic Church may eventually change its opposition to gay marriage.
Kaine is a devout Roman Catholic as well as a U.S. senator from Virginia and a former governor of that state. He told the Human Rights Campaign during its national dinner Saturday in Washington that he had changed his mind about gay marriage and that his church may follow suit one day.
"I think it's going to change because my church also teaches me about a creator who, in the first chapter of Genesis, surveyed the entire world, including mankind, and said, 'It is very good,'" Kaine said. He then recalled Pope Francis' remark that "who am I to judge?" in reference to gay priests.
"I want to add: Who am I to challenge God for the beautiful diversity of the human family? I think we're supposed to celebrate it, not challenge it," Kaine said.

We've done a fair amount of dissection on media who toss around the Devout Catholic™ term too freely.  As I wrote two years ago, many reporters seem to use Devout Catholic™ in two ways: (1) “Doing more Catholic things than I do”; (2) “Claiming to be good Catholics while breaking with the Church over major doctrines.”

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Charlotte Observer on gay rights: With this United Methodist story, there's a different result

Charlotte Observer on gay rights: With this United Methodist story, there's a different result

Honest, we're not picking on the Charlotte Observer. Just because this is the third GetReligion piece on that paper's coverage in less than a week and a half, and the other two were blunt criticisms, doesn't mean … 

No, this post is mostly praise for the Observer's  follow-up on United Methodist clergy who performed a gay wedding in violation of church rules. It's a thorough report, but I do have a few qualifications.

The long-stewing controversy began in April, when the Rev. Val Rosenquist, along with a retired United Methodist Church bishop, married two men at First United Methodist in Charlotte. That brought several formal complaints that she had gone against the Book of Discipline, the denomination's main lawbook.

That's a serious charge in the last mainline denomination that rules out homosexual acts as "incompatible with Christian teaching." As tmatt has noted, the crucial issue is whether these clergy are acting in violation of their ordination vows to accept the denomination's "order, liturgy, doctrine, and discipline, defending it against all doctrines contrary to God's Holy Word. ..."

As the story notes: "Clergy who violate it can lose their jobs, face a church trial, even lose their clergy credentials."

This week, the Observer announced the resolution. Actually, no, it didn’t -- because the Western North Carolina Conference didn’t tell anyone:

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Banned for beliefs: Washington Post tries to tackle the fracas at Marquette University

Banned for beliefs: Washington Post tries to tackle the fracas at Marquette University

The long-smoldering struggle between Marquette University and a prickly professor made the Washington Post this week. But there's something funny about the headline:

A university moved to fire a professor after he defended a student’s right to debate gay marriage. Now he’s suing.

A little surprising, in itself, I guess. But what if I told you it's a Catholic university? A Jesuit one, at that? If criticizing gay marriage -- quoting, for example, the teachings of the Catholic church -- during a discussion in class is not allowed in a Catholic, Jesuit university …?

There is a good summary at the top of Post story, at least:

The conflict began in 2014: After a student complained after a philosophy class that he was disappointed that he and others who question gay marriage had not been allowed to express their views during the classroom discussion, the graduate-student instructor told him that opposition to gay marriage was homophobic and offensive and would not be tolerated in her theory of ethics class. John McAdams, an associate professor of political science at Marquette, blogged about it, writing that the instructor "was just using a tactic typical among liberals now. Opinions with which they disagree are not merely wrong, and are not to be argued against on their merits, but are deemed ‘offensive’ and need to be shut up."
The story went viral, touching as it did on the heated debates over issues such as campus culture, gay rights, academic freedom, whether students should be protected from comments they find offensive or hurtful, and where the lines should be drawn in discussions of charged topics such as race and sexuality to ensure that people don’t feel stigmatized or unsafe. The instructor was targeted on social media by people angered by McAdams’s account of the incident and ultimately left the university.
McAdams was suspended without pay the following month and banned from campus, and in March of this year he was told by university president Michael Lovell he could not return to teaching unless he wrote a letter acknowledging that his behavior had been reckless and incompatible with Marquette values and that he feels deep regret for the harm he did to the instructor.
On Monday, McAdams and the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty filed a lawsuit in Milwaukee County Circuit Court, claiming breach of contract.

Now, Marquette would never be mistaken for Catholic University of America, in which faculty members are, to some degree, required to stick with traditional church teachings.

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Will Justice Kennedy go against gay rights? The Los Angeles Times sure hopes not

Will Justice Kennedy go against gay rights? The Los Angeles Times sure hopes not

Much of this week’s news is the Supremes and gay marriage, so what could be a better introduction than a piece on the man who will probably be the swing vote in this great debate?

We are, of course, talking about Justice Anthony M. Kennedy who was profiled Monday in the Los Angeles Times, the day before oral arguments. The Times is a natural medium to look at considering that Kennedy’s career took an interesting turn in Sacramento. That’s where he issued a ruling that wondered out loud if homosexual acts between consenting adults might be a constitutional right.

The article begins as follows:

Anthony M. Kennedy was a 44-year-old appeals court judge in Sacramento -- a Republican appointee and happily-married Catholic -- when he first confronted the question of whether the Constitution protected the rights of gays and lesbians.
His answer in 1980 did not make him a gay rights hero. Kennedy upheld the Navy’s decision to discharge three service members for “homosexual acts.”
But less noticed in that somewhat reluctant opinion -- unusual for its time, just two weeks before Ronald Reagan was elected president -- were the doubts Kennedy raised about the constitutionality of laws criminalizing gay sex.  

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It's a mystery: Kicking a cardinal -- Guardian-style

Who is the target in this story from The Guardian on the gay marriage vote in the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly? Better still, who should be the target? Why is the paper favored by the Nomenklatura in Britain hammering Cardinal Sean Brady? The article from the newspaper’s Ireland correspondent reports the news that the Unionist parties (Protestants) in the Assembly will block a motion introduced by Sinn Féin to permit gay marriage. The Catholic hierarchy in Northern Ireland has also called for the bill to be blocked.

The Church of Ireland (the Anglicans) were on record as opposed to the change — however this last bit of news is not stated outright. We can infer the Anglicans were opposed by statements reported in the closing paragraphs. The article reports that Anglican gay activists were disappointed with their church’s stance.” (Here is their statement.)

If it is the Protestants, who as a group, are blocking gay marriage, why then is The Guardian beating up on the Catholic Church? Or are they beating up on one particular Catholic?

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So how many gay bishops are there in England?

Spinning a news story is not as easy as it seems. Too light a touch and an author fails to convince his audience of the merits of his cause. Too much can spin the ball out of the author’s control — touching upon so many issues and arguments that readers may become enamored with the “wrong” issue. Take Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will. Aesthetically a beautiful film (and evil too), it fails as propaganda for any but the true believer because of its heavy hand.

(As an aside: Riefenstahl created the cinema-graphic technique of the long entrance. Hitler’s entrance to the rally builds and builds, tension and anticipation mount. The shots follow him through the bowels of the stadium and culminate in his entrance to the stage. Should you take delight in upsetting your political friends, compare the shots Riefenstahl used in Triumph of the Will to the staging of recent Democrat and Republican conventions — Bill Clinton followed Riefenstahl’s playbook almost scene by scene inside the convention halls.)

The key to good advocacy journalism, as it is in all things, is moderation. The best propaganda is subtle propaganda. Too many claims, too much hyperbole and you cheapen your story.

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Miscues in news on gay blessings and marriage from London

The Valentine’s Day statement from the House of Bishops of the Church of England on gay marriage has fluttered the Anglican dovecots. The story received A1 treatment from the British press and it spawned commentaries and opinion pieces in the major outlets. The second day stories reported some activists were “appalled” by the news whilst others were over the moon with delight — but being British their joy did not rise to continental expressions of euphoria.

The story continues to move through the media and on Sunday the BBC had one bishop tell the Sunday Programme that clergy who violated the Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage protocol might be brought up on charges — and could well be sacked.

So what did the bishops do? A scan of the first day stories reports that they either said “no to gay marriage but yes to gay civil unions” or “no to gay marriage and no to blessing gay unions.” The first day reports were evenly divided between the “no/yes” and “no/no” schools.

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Miscues in news on gay blessings and marriage from London

The Valentine’s Day statement from the House of Bishops of the Church of England on gay marriage has fluttered the Anglican dovecots. The story received A1 treatment from the British press and it spawned commentaries and opinion pieces in the major outlets. The second day stories reported some activists were “appalled” by the news whilst others were over the moon with delight — but being British their joy did not rise to continental expressions of euphoria.

The story continues to move through the media and on Sunday the BBC had one bishop tell the Sunday Programme that clergy who violated the Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage protocol might be brought up on charges — and could well be sacked.

So what did the bishops do? A scan of the first day stories reports that they either said “no to gay marriage but yes to gay civil unions” or “no to gay marriage and no to blessing gay unions.” The first day reports were evenly divided between the “no/yes” and “no/no” schools.

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