Mayor Megan Barry

A GetReligionista looks back on some of his — and his colleagues' — most-clicked posts of 2018

A GetReligionista looks back on some of his — and his colleagues' — most-clicked posts of 2018

I write more than 200 posts a year for GetReligion.

My pieces range from our bread-and-butter critiques of mainstream news media coverage of religion to our weekly Friday Five columns highlighting each week’s major (or just plain quirky) developments on the Godbeat.

At the end of each year, I’m always curious to see which posts caught the attention of the most readers.

What makes a GetReligion post go viral? In 2017, key ingredients included Joel Osteen, same-sex wedding cakes and the Mark of the Beast. The previous year — 2016 — Donald Trump’s “Two Corinthians,” Merle Haggard’s Church of Christ mama and a rare opening of a Chick-fil-A on Sunday were in the mix.

2018? Well, let’s check out the top five posts for GetReligionista Julia Duin, GetReligion editor Terry Mattingly and myself.

We’ll start with Julia, for reasons that will become obvious:

5. How journalists can nail down the rest of the Cardinal McCarrick story – for good

4. Cardinal Ted McCarrick, Part II: The New York Times takes a stab at this old story

3. Catholic News Agency pulls off investigative coup in the 'Uncle Ted' McCarrick saga

2. Another #ChurchToo: The Chicago Tribune investigates Bill Hybels in 6,000 words

1. The scandal of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and why no major media outed him

See any common thread there? That’s right — McCarrick and the Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal were huge news and big traffic drivers to GetReligion in 2018, as was the related #ChurchToo news that also made headlines.

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(Good) Friday Five: #MLK50, #ChurchToo, Sheep Among Wolves and, um, 'Chris is risen?'

(Good) Friday Five: #MLK50, #ChurchToo, Sheep Among Wolves and, um, 'Chris is risen?'

It's Good Friday.

And Passover begins tonight at sundown.

Enter Greg Garrison, longtime religion writer for the Birmingham News, with informative overviews of both religious holidays.

In one piece, Garrison asks, "If Jesus suffered and died, why is it called Good Friday?"

His other helpful primer explores this question: "What is Passover?"

Be sure to check out both articles.

Meanwhile, let's dive into the (Good) Friday Five:

1. Religion story of the week: Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of the April 4, 1968, assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. 

In advance of that milestone, Religion News Service national reporter Adelle Banks has an extraordinary story focused on a 75-year-old Memphis, Tenn., sanitation worker who "drives five days a week to collect garbage, even as he spends much of the rest of his time as an associate minister of his Baptist congregation."

A somewhat related but mostly tangential question for the Associated Press Stylebook gurus: Why in the world doesn't Memphis (not to mention Nashville) stand alone in datelines?

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Friday Five: Olympic miracle, homeless Super Bowl player, faith of TV dad, cheating mayor and more

Friday Five: Olympic miracle, homeless Super Bowl player, faith of TV dad, cheating mayor and more

"Do you believe in miracles? Yes!"

With the Winter Olympics starting in Pyeongchang, South Korea, what better time to recall one of the greatest calls in sports history?

How many GetReligion readers are old enough to remember Al Michaels' excited description of the U.S. hockey team's 4-3 victory over the heavily favored Soviet Union in the 1980 games in Lake Placid, N.Y.?

Later, Kurt Russell starred in the 2004 movie "Miracle," which tells the true story of the Americans' improbable gold medal performance and makes some lists of all-time best sports films.

But enough reminiscing. 

Let's get to the "Friday Five":

1. Religion story of the week: Some weeks, this is a difficult choice. Not this week. 

As I described it in a post this week, "There are must-read stories, and then there's this incredible story on 'The search for Jackie Wallace.'"

The viral piece by retired Times-Picayune photojournalist Ted Jackson — now approaching 300,000 retweets — explores the downfall, redemption and disappearance of a New Orleans football legend.

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A Bible Belt mayor, an extramarital affair and a newspaper savvy enough to cover the religion angle

A Bible Belt mayor, an extramarital affair and a newspaper savvy enough to cover the religion angle

When the dateline on a news story is Nashville, Tenn., there isn't always a religion angle.

But almost always?

Yes, that's a pretty safe statement. At least was the case during the year I spent in that Bible Belt state capital, covering faith and politics for The Associated Press.

In late 2015, I praised The Tennessean's decision to hire a full-time religion writer — Holly Meyer — after eliminating the position when veteran journalist Bob Smietana left the paper in 2013. In my post two years ago, I proclaimed:

The prodigal Godbeat has come home to Music City!

The USA Today Network publication's investment in Meyer and religion journalism expertise keeps paying dividends. The most recent example came last week after Nashville Mayor Megan Barry confessed to an extramarital affair.

Way up high in the initial main news story on Barry's affair, quotes attributed to the mayor hinted strongly at holy ghosts:

Mayor Megan Barry said Wednesday she had an extramarital affair with the police officer in charge of her security detail, an extraordinary admission that rocks the popular Nashville mayor's first term.
Barry, in an interview with The Tennessean on Wednesday afternoon, apologized "for the harm I've done to the people I love and the people who counted on me" but said she won't be resigning. 
She confirmed the affair with Metro police Sgt. Robert Forrest Jr., which began in the spring or summer of 2016, just months after she entered office the previous fall. Forrest submitted his retirement papers Jan. 17. His final day was Wednesday. 
"We had an affair, and it was wrong, and we shouldn't have done it," Barry, a Democrat, said, looking down as she spoke softly and slowly. "He was part of my security detail, and as part of that responsibility, I should have gone to the (police) chief, and I should have said what was going on, and that was a mistake.
"People that we admire can also be flawed humans, and I'm flawed, and I'm incredibly sad and sorry for the disappointment that I will see in those little girls' faces. But, what I hope they can also see is that people make mistakes, and you move on from those."

But just a bit later in the story — directly from the mayor's mouth — came this direct reference to the Almighty:

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