Palm Beach Post

Palm Beach Post captures the 'resurrection' of disgraced pastor Tullian Tchividjian

Palm Beach Post captures the 'resurrection' of disgraced pastor Tullian Tchividjian

Clearly the religion piece everyone has been reading lately is the Palm Beach Post’s report on the new career that Tullian Tchividjian, grandson to Billy Graham, has embarked upon.

(The Tchividjian story had some stiff competition yesterday, mind you, from President Trump who on Tuesday scolded American Jews who vote Democratic just before he cancelled his upcoming trip to Denmark because the Danes would not sell him Greenland. Words just fail me sometimes.)

Back to Tchividjian, last we heard about him was former GetReligionista Jim Davis’ 2015 post about Tchividjian’s resignation from Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale after he’d had an affair.

Turns out, there was more than one affair. Some time after Tchividjian started up a new church near West Palm Beach, the local newspaper caught up with him. We pick up a few paragraphs into the story.

Tchividjian, the 47-year-old grandson of famed pastor Billy Graham and a Christian celebrity in his own right, is leading a church for the first time since his June 2015 resignation as senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in northern Fort Lauderdale.

Tchividjian was forced to resign because he violated a morality contract by having an extramarital affair, according to a filing in his divorce case. But the woman who said she was involved in the affair and an advocacy organization led by his brother call it pastoral abuse and sexual misconduct.

Tchividjian, who said there was no element of sex abuse or emotional manipulation, was also defrocked by the South Florida Presbytery. Now the new Jupiter resident is among those starting The Sanctuary, an unaffiliated church that’s meeting each Sunday at the Hilton Garden Inn Palm Beach Gardens ahead of a planned formal launch next month.

The reporter did his homework, interviewing one of the women who had an affair with the minister and at least trying to score interviews with church officials, a professor of ethics at Princeton and with Tchividjian’s brother, Boz Tchividjian, who heads up an organization that investigates church sex abuse cases. He had the best luck hearing from the pastor himself.

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Generic prayers for fallen hero: Lots of faith details missing in Parkland massacre coverage

Generic prayers for fallen hero: Lots of faith details missing in Parkland massacre coverage

Back in the days when he attend Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Joseph LaGuardia had a good friend who was working his way through some tough times.

But there were two constants that his friend could count on -- football and church.

The friend was Aaron Feis, who would later become a security guard and football coach at his alma mater. Feis has emerged as one of the most heroic figures in the school massacre in Parkland, Fla. Students said he used his massive frame to shield the innocent and was fatally wounded while doing so.

The national press has paid attention to the Feis story, with lots of quotes talking about his unique and powerful bond with students and his commitment to his work. He died in a local hospital, while friends sent out waves of social-media appeals for prayer on his behalf.

Today, LaGuardia is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Vero Beach, north of West Palm Beach. I don't know how the local newspaper found him, but his warm words about Feis added some interesting and poignant details to his life story.

The bottom line: Bless be the ties that bind.

As often is the case, there may have been a faith angle in all of those appeals for prayer. In a way, that's the theme that ran through this week's "Crossroads" podcast, which followed up on my earlier post about the Ash Wednesday-Valentine's Day shooting. Click here to tune that in.

But back to the story about Fies, as seen through the eyes of this pastor who knew him well.

LaGuardia ... said Feis was a couple of years behind him in school, but the two grew close through their church, the New Covenant Church on the Lake in Pompano Beach.

“There were three of us friends who spent most weekends together,” LaGuardia said. “We were very active in the youth group, kind of always there when the doors opened. And his wife was also part of the youth group as well.”

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Orlando shooting: Florida media scrambling to decide what it was about

Orlando shooting: Florida media scrambling to decide what it was about

Was it Islamic terrorism? Just regular terrorism? A hate crime? A wake-up call for gay rights and gun control?

Like a dropped glass, the Orlando shooting has already shattered into many stories, less than 48 hours after the event.  Activists for various causes have filled in a few details of the tragedy into scripts that seem otherwise pre-written. And many news media have been helping them.

The coverage has been overwhelming -- local and national alike -- and the cash-strapped newspapers have often borrowed from national news outlets. But here's what jumped out during my look at Florida media.

The Orlando Sentinel has done outstanding -- though not flawless -- coverage, with multiple updates. By 1:02 p.m. Sunday, it had produced an impressive profile of Omar Mateen, named by police as the man who stormed the Pulse nightclub and killed 49 people. Building partly on work by the Washington Post, the profile includes:

Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, the 29-year-old gunman accused of killing dozens of people in Orlando on Sunday, was a security guard, the divorced father of a 3-year-old and, in school, someone who acted "dorky."
He also was an extremist whose outspoken interest in terrorism twice put him on the FBI’s radar screen.
On Sunday morning, he became something far larger: a lone gunman who authorities say was responsible for the deadliest mass shooting in American history.
He called 911 from outside a gay nightclub just south of downtown Orlando, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, authorities said, then began his assault.

For comparison, check out the Tampa Bay Times' version, which came out at 12:13 p.m. today.

The Sentinel also reveals that Mateen grew up in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and bought two guns legally; worked for a security firm; been investigated by the FBI at least twice since 2013; made reference to the Tsarnaev brothers, the brothers who bombed the 2013 Boston Marathon; and was married for two years to a woman who left because of his abusiveness. All of those elements have become part of the standard narrative in other media.

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Christmas flap gets Palm Beach Post coverage, but it's wreathed in questions

Christmas flap gets Palm Beach Post coverage, but it's wreathed in questions

"All politics is local," goes a saying often attributed to "Tip O'Neill Jr. Much the same could be said of the so-called War on Christmas -- as in West Palm Beach, where a condo association threatened a resident for hanging a wreath on her door.

The Palm Beach Post takes a look in a story that is at once flawed and laudable. The rather preachy lede says:

Donna Sozzio’s “infraction” — placing a wreath on her condo door.
In these days when religious tolerance is such an issue, the resident of West Palm’s Lands of the President complex can’t understand why she should face a $100 a day fine for displaying a symbol of her faith. The condo rule violates her religious freedoms, she says.

The paper then spells out the condo rule at the Lands of the President Condo: no changes to "exterior surfaces" without written approval of the board. Balconies, yes, until New Year. But "hallways must be free of any decoration."

Sozzio's reaction: "I feel like I’m being bullied. It’s very intimidating."

She tossed the first notice away a couple of weeks ago because she thought it was ridiculous. When the second one came on Thursday, she pulled down the wreath, afraid they’d come after her for the money. But she replaced it with a small cross.

Controversies over Christmas displays are, of course, a staple of December coverage. Just in Florida, at least two other cities -- Plantation and Jacksonville -- are seeing their own flaps. But most such debates fall into two categories: public displays of nativity scenes and megawatt home shows that snarl traffic. The one in West Palm Beach is interesting for focusing on a homeowners' association taking down a single seasonal decoration. It's interesting also for the religious and legal angles, as we'll see.

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Daily Beast's recipe for Rubio story: Extra snide, easy on the facts

Daily Beast's recipe for Rubio story: Extra snide, easy on the facts

I thought of my mother when I read this article about Sen. Marco Rubio in The Daily Beast. And not just because yesterday was Mother's Day. It was because of her skill in starting with leftovers and serving up soups and stews.

But that's where the similarity ends. The Beast's food stock is scorn for Rubio's idea to have "family-friendly" films and TV shows made in Florida. The result is a shapeless mélange, steeped in a thin broth of sarcasm.

Tax breaks for producers to make G and PG movies in Florida is one of 100 ideas Rubio hatched while he was speaker of the Florida house. The snide headline: "Marco Rubio’s Plan to Build a Holy Hollywood in Florida."

Before senator and Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio wanted to transform the country, he had a more modest dream: to transform Florida into Hollywood—but with morals!  
In 2006, when Rubio was speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, he released a book, 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida’s Future, that featured within its inspired pages 100 ideas Rubio compiled during town hall-like meetings that he cleverly labeled “Idearaisers.”
The book is supposedly about “how every Floridian can enjoy freedom, opportunity, and the pursuit of happiness and leave for their children a better life than their own,” but there is a caveat: Rubio wanted Floridians who were in the entertainment industry to enjoy their freedom, opportunity, and pursuit of happiness in a “family friendly” way. 

The newspaper correctly quotes the idea: "Florida should create a tax incentive program aimed at attracting more film productions and TV series to the state, with a priority given to those productions that are given ‘family-friendly’ ratings such as G or PG."

Writer Olivia Nuzzi then tee-hees over the fact that there is a City of Hollywood in Florida. Here is how she describes it:

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