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Devil in the details: Oklahoma religion writer shows how to report a controversy

Devil in the details: Oklahoma religion writer shows how to report a controversy

Devil's advocate? Carla Hinton of The Oklahoman didn't go quite that far in her story about an archbishop versus a Satanist group. But she did talk to both sides and showed how a principled, professional religion writer works.

At issue was a lawsuit by Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City to halt a planned "black mass" in a public hall. His complaint was that the mass would include a desecration of the Host, or consecrated Eucharistic bread -- and argued that the bread must have been stolen.

In a couple of crisp paragraphs, Hinton and contributing writer William Crumm lay out the issues:

Coakley is asking the court to require the Oklahoma County sheriff to obtain the Eucharistic host from the Satanist group and deliver it to him as the local leader of the Catholic Church. The lawsuit states that in order for an unauthorized individual to have a consecrated host, he or she would have had to obtain it through illicit means such as “theft, fraud, wrongful taking or other form of misappropriation, either by Defendants or by someone else.”

In the lawsuit, Coakley said the consecrated host — typically a small unleavened wafer of bread — is considered sacred by Catholic Christians. It is an integral part of the Eucharist, also called Holy Communion.

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Can we let Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist rest in peace?

There’s no such thing as bad publicity — at least that’s how the saying goes. I beg to differ when it comes to the late Fred Phelps, Westboro Baptist Church and promoting your business.

From my home state today comes this front-page story in The Oklahoman. Take a moment to read it so we’re all on the same billboard, er … page.

Now then, let’s talk about what constitutes newsworthiness and how that differs from creating news.

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