Michigan

'Cry out for a king': Maybe there's some religious content in this congressman's tweet?

'Cry out for a king': Maybe there's some religious content in this congressman's tweet?

It was a real short news story.

It was based — as so much political news seems to be these days — on a tweet.

But there seemed to be a holy ghost in the reporting: You think?

I’m pulling this one out of my guilt folder because the item ran in The Hill more than a week ago. Still, I think the question — first raised by my friend Alan Cochrum, a former Fort Worth Star-Telegram copy editor — is relevant.

See if you can spot the religion ghost:

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), the only known GOP lawmaker to co-sponsor a resolution to block President Trump's emergency declaration, accused fellow Republicans on Saturday of "cry[ing] out for a king" to go around Congress.

The libertarian-leaning congressman urged members of his own party on Twitter to be "faithful" to the Constitution and reject Trump's plan to "usurp legislative powers" with a declaration aimed at reallocating funding for construction of a barrier at the U.S.-Mexico border.

"The same congressional Republicans who joined me in blasting Pres. Obama’s executive overreach now cry out for a king to usurp legislative powers. If your faithfulness to the Constitution depends on which party controls the White House, then you are not faithful to it," Amash tweeted.

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Exposed: A few questions about that breastfeeding mother given an apology by a Michigan church

Exposed: A few questions about that breastfeeding mother given an apology by a Michigan church

A woman got a pastor's apology for criticism she received after breastfeeding in an open area of a church building, reports the Livingston Daily — a Gannett newspaper in Michigan.

All in all, the paper offers a fair, well-rounded account of what happened on a Sunday in June.

I don't have many complaints about the coverage, which I came across via the Pew Research Center's daily religion headlines.

But I do have a few questions — one of them the same as I asked about a Virginia breastfeeding story last year. I'll elaborate in a moment.

First, though, let's review the basic facts out of Michigan:

A Brighton pastor has apologized to a woman who said she was shamed for breastfeeding inside a church while waiting for her other children to finish Sunday school.

Amy Marchant, 29, said she asked for a public apology after she was accused of immodesty and potentially inspiring “lustfulness” in men for nursing her child at The Naz Church in Brighton in mid-June.

“Of all the places, it is most hurtful when it comes from your own church, that you are going to cause guys to lust after you,” Marchant said Thursday.

Ben Walls, Sr., lead pastor, said the church supports and encourages breastfeeding, and the Father’s Day incident “had to do with breastfeeding, but didn’t.”

He said three different spaces are set aside for “those who want a private space” – a lounge outside of the restroom specifically created for nursing mothers a decade ago and two other rooms in a children’s area “designated for ladies who want privacy.”

“That is what we want to say – we have nothing against breastfeeding and we are in favor,” Walls said. “It’s very hard because we understand that she was very hurt and we apologize to her. We’re very sorry for the embarrassment and hurt caused when she was asked to cover or use one of those rooms. We apologize for her hurt and embarrassment; that wasn’t the intention.”

Keep reading, and a key issue seems to be that the mother had exposed both her breasts while feeding the baby in a public area. You can read the full story for all the specific details both from the perspective of the mother and that of the church.

My questions relate more to other important context: For one, the mother twice in the story calls the congregation — which she has since left — her "own church." Does that mean she is or was a member? How long had she attended the church?

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What were the 'religious reasons' why a couple allegedly refused to get help for their infant?

What were the 'religious reasons' why a couple allegedly refused to get help for their infant?

The Washington Post reports — in an aggregation/clickbait kind of piece — that a 10-month-old died after her parents allegedly refused to get help for religious reasons.

By aggregation/clickbait kind of piece, I mean that this is a story made up mainly of links to other media reports and social media. There's not much original reporting. This is mainly a web search aggregated into a quick report designed to get internet clicks.

I offer that background not as a criticism (although it's admittedly not my favorite form of "journalism") but to lower the expectations for the quality of material that a reader might expect to find.

Still, I think the reader who shared the link with GetReligion asks a relevant question, even for this gutter-level form of news. More on that question in a moment.

First, thought, the top of the Post report offers the basics:

In video sermons, the man railed against vaccines, “bad medicine” and doctors whom he deemed to be “priesthoods of the medical cult.”

And he explained why he refused to vaccinate his children, saying: “It didn’t seem smart to me that you would be saving people who weren’t the fittest. If evolution believes in survival of the fittest, well then why are we vaccinating everybody? Shouldn’t we just let the weak die off and let the strong survive?”

On a Facebook page matching his name and likeness, Seth Welch of Michigan spoke of his religious beliefs, which he shared with his wife, Tatiana Fusari. Those beliefs may have contributed to their own child’s death, according to court records.

Although the circumstances surrounding the baby’s death remain unclear, the couple were charged Monday with felony murder and first-degree child abuse after their nearly 10-month-old daughter, Mary, was found dead in her crib from malnutrition and dehydration, according to court records cited by NBC affiliate WOOD.

Now, back to the reader's question:

Any particular church or denomination? Implies they're Christians but what if they're not? Early story? 

So the reader wants to know the specific details concerning the vague "religious reasons."

Me, too!

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Three weekend reads: Another #MeToo case for SBC, faith-based adoption and Bible teacher Jimmy Carter

Three weekend reads: Another #MeToo case for SBC, faith-based adoption and Bible teacher Jimmy Carter

After a week in Puerto Rico on a Christian Chronicle reporting trip, I'm still catching up on my sleep — and my reading.

Speaking of reading, here are three interesting religion stories from the last few days.

The first concerns the latest #MeToo case facing the Southern Baptist Convention. The second is an in-depth analysis of religious freedom vs. gay rights in taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care. The third is a feature on the Sunday school class in Plains, Ga., taught by former President Jimmy Carter.

1. Southern Baptist officials knew of sexual abuse allegations 11 years before leader’s arrest

Sarah Smith, an investigative reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, delves into how the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board handled allegations that a 25-year-old seminary student sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl.

A crucial question: Why didn't the board report the matter to police?

Smith meticulously reports the facts of the case and gives all the relevant parties ample space and opportunity to comment, even if some choose not to do so or to issue brief statements that shed little light. This is a solid piece of journalism.

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About that complex Michigan lawsuit: When does a Christian camp turn into a resort?

About that complex Michigan lawsuit: When does a Christian camp turn into a resort?

If you know anything about about the history of religion in Michigan, you know that the region north of Grand Rapids has -- in addition to being famous for its forests and lake-front views -- long been a center for Christian camps and similar facilities.

It's common for Christian encampments to sell land to individuals and congregations so that they can build their own lodges and cottages.

The question, of course, is when these clearly-defined religious institutions turn into resort town or evolve into vaguely defined "spiritual" institutions that are open to all.

So what has happened at the "Bay View Association of the United Methodist Church"? Is this a doctrinally defined, nonprofit religious organization -- a church camp of some kind -- or not?

That's the question raised in a MLive.com report that ran with this headline: "Only Christians can own cottages at this idyllic Michigan resort." The problem is that this question is never really answered or clearly debated.

The key word in that headline, of course, is "resort." The news report itself focuses on the word "association." Here is the top of the story:

EMMET COUNTY, MI -- Just outside of Petoskey, on the shores of Little Traverse Bay, is an upscale community with hundreds of Victorian-era cottages, most decades old, and a unique form of self-governance.
Under an 1889 state law, the cottagers' association can appoint a board of assessors, deputize its own marshal and maintain streets and buildings on collectively owned land.
The association requires owners to have good moral character. But its requirement that owners be practicing Christians -- ideally, members of the United Methodist Church -- is what has come under fire.

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Surprise: The New York Times offers balanced look at Betsy DeVos' Christian high school

Surprise: The New York Times offers balanced look at Betsy DeVos' Christian high school

Life still surprises: Where I expected full-on Kellerism -- reporting in which certain "settled" matters are declared unworthy of balanced coverage -- The New York Times offered, well, some degree of balance when writing about a controversial public figure and the intersection of education and faith.

Journey with me now, gentle reader, to the western Michigan shores of Lake Macatawa, where we find the city of Holland and the alma mater of one Betsy Prince, who in 1975 graduated from Holland Christian High School.

As Betsy Prince, the now 59-year-old graduate might not attract much public attention, and certainly not for where she attended high school.

However, as Betsy DeVos, now the U.S. Secretary of Education, there's plenty of interest in such details. As shown in the video clip above, DeVos isn't always warmly embraced by her hearers and is a controversial figure.

Take it awayNew York Times:

The students formed a circle around the Rev. Ray Vanderlaan, who draped himself in a Jewish ceremonial prayer shawl to cap his final lesson to graduating seniors in his discipleship seminar at Holland Christian High School.
“We’re sending you out into a broken world, in part because of my generation,” the minister told the students. Referring to God, he exhorted them to “extend his kingdom.”

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Surprise! Pro-life women planning to join March for Life get front-page news coverage

Surprise! Pro-life women planning to join March for Life get front-page news coverage

Hey, this is a surprise.

Pro-life women planning to join this week's March for Life in Washington, D.C., got front-page news coverage in the Detroit Free Press.

Why's it a surprise?

If you're a regular GetReligion reader, you don't need to ask: We've pointed out a time or two — or a thousand — that news stories heavily favoring the pro-choice side are a longstanding and indisputable problem. If you somehow missed it previously, check out the classic 1990 Los Angeles Times series — written by the late David Shaw — that exposed rampant news media bias against abortion opponents. 

So yes, it's unusual to see a Page 1 story in a major metropolitan daily that focuses on the perspective of the pro-life side. But that's exactly what the Free Press provides — quoting five pro-life advocates, including four women. (Amazingly, this is my second post in the last week-plus praising a mainstream news story on the abortion issue.)

Back to the Detroit story: Let's start with the lede:

While millions of women marched last weekend for equal rights around the world, many others sat on the sidelines.
They felt excluded from the Women's March on Washington because of one tenet: Its pro-abortion rights platform.
But this week, it's their turn.

The wording of the next paragraph gives me a little pause. But maybe it's just me:

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Let's dig below the surface of Donald Trump's awkward visit to a black church in Flint, Mich.

Let's dig below the surface of Donald Trump's awkward visit to a black church in Flint, Mich.

Back in February, Democrat Hillary Clinton got a rousing welcome at a black church in Flint, Mich.

Republican Donald Trump's reception in that same city Wednesday was not quite so enthusiastic.

The basics from the New York Times:

FLINT, Mich. — Donald J. Trump traveled Wednesday to Michigan, a state that has not voted Republican in more than two decades, as he reached out to African-Americans with remarks at a local church and toured a water-treatment plant in a city that has battled dangerously high levels of lead and contaminated water.
The trip did not exactly go as planned. In a stop at the predominantly African-American Bethel United Methodist Church here, a pamphlet was distributed indicating that the speech “in no way represents an endorsement.” Mr. Trump was then interrupted in the middle of his remarks by the pastor, the Rev. Faith Green Timmons, after he started to criticize Hillary Clinton.
“Mr. Trump, I invited you here to thank us,” she said, adding, “not make a political speech.”
“O.K., that’s good,” Mr. Trump responded. “Flint. And I’m going to back on to Flint. O.K. O.K. Flint’s pain is a result of so many different failures.”
The candidate continued, but members of the crowd repeatedly shouted questions, at one point interrupting him about reports that his housing empire had “discriminated against black tenants” in the past, according to news media pool reports.

You can find similar information in reports from major news organizations such as CNN and Reuters.

But did any journalists go beyond the threadbare particulars of the short exchange between the pastor and the presidential candidate?

Actually, yes.

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Hillary Clinton takes to Flint, Mich., pulpit, and New York Times brings its King James language

Hillary Clinton takes to Flint, Mich., pulpit, and New York Times brings its King James language

I traveled to Flint, Mich., over the weekend to report for The Christian Chronicle on that city's lead-tainted water crisis.

While meeting with a source Sunday afternoon, she mentioned that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had come to Flint that day to speak at a black Baptist church. We decided to swing by the House of Prayer Missionary Baptist Church, and I snapped a picture of Clinton leaving that I posted on Instagram.

Since I didn't actually hear Clinton speak, I was curious what she said and checked the news coverage — my GetReligion antenna up and ready to spot any holy ghosts.

Clinton's description of the poisoned water in Flint as "immoral" was the soundbite that caught the media's attention — and rightly so.

This was the lede from NBC News:

FLINT, Michigan — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called for "action now" to combat the toxic water crisis here Sunday in a speech to a packed congregation.
"This has to be a national priority," Clinton said at the House of Prayer Missionary Baptist Church. "What happened in Flint is immoral. The children of Flint are just as precious as the children of any part of America."

And from the Detroit Free Press:

FLINT — Solving the problems of contaminated water in Flint has to remain a local, state and national priority for the foreseeable future, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told city residents gathered in a Baptist church Sunday afternoon.
"Clean water is not optional, my friends. It’s not a luxury," she said. "This is not merely unacceptable or wrong. What happened in Flint is immoral. Children in Flint are just as precious as children in any part of America."

So was there any spiritual component to Clinton's remarks at the church? We noted last month that Clinton, a United Methodist, doesn't often discuss her faith on the campaign trail.

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