Philadelpia Inquirer

To Philly paper, do 4-foot crosses make Villanova span a bridge too far?

To Philly paper, do 4-foot crosses make Villanova span a bridge too far?

Nestled 12 miles north of Philadelphia's Center City, Villanova University is and always has been a Roman Catholic institution, founded by two Augustinian priests in 1841. The school avoided damage from the 1844 Philadelphia Nativist Riots, although the financial impact on its sponsors closed the school for a season.

But from 1846 until today, Villanova has been a fixture in the academic firmament of southeastern Pennsylvania, in the "Main Line" suburb of Radnor. So much so that the school wants to construct a pedestrian bridge over busy Lancaster Avenue, joining two sections of the growing campus. Radnor officials approved the construction of the bridge at a recent board of commissioners (or, BOC) meeting.

Not exactly headline-grabbing news, right?

Well, 'Nova (as alumni fondly refer to the school) is Roman Catholic, and wouldn't you know, those good Catholic people like to put crosses on things, such as buildings on the campus? (Take a look at the opening sequence of the orientation video above. In about the first 20 seconds, there are plenty of crosses on campus buildings, and not just the main church, that are visible.)

And yes, 'Nova wants to place crosses on the new bridge. That makes it news, at least for the Philadelphia Inquirer, which topped its account with the hair-smoldering-if-not-on-fire headline:

Radnor approves Villanova's controversial cross-adorned pedestrian bridge

There's a bit of verbiage here, but read on to find the bone of contention:

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Faith and gambling: Story exploring one city's 'false god with a small g' hits the jackpot

Faith and gambling: Story exploring one city's 'false god with a small g' hits the jackpot

A few years, I covered a meeting of preachers in Las Vegas and wrote a story titled "Saving Sin City." 

In reporting that piece, I was fascinated by how local church leaders and members approached the all-encompassing gambling industry in their home city.

I was reminded of that story when I read a front-page Philadelphia Inquirer report this week on clergy members supporting casino workers about to lose their jobs in Atlantic City, N.J. 

The newsy lede:

ATLANTIC CITY — When gambling was being proposed for Atlantic City 38 years ago, most religious denominations opposed casinos. They viewed gambling as a vice that could destroy families and communities.
Now, many of the same churches are standing firmly by the casino workers, a number of whom fill their pews on Sundays, who are expected to lose their jobs in massive numbers, starting Labor Day weekend with the closure of the Showboat and Revel.
Many houses of worship are offering counseling for the affected workers, increased food pantry hours, or just someone to pray with.
"There are going to be a lot of people hurting," said John R. Schol, bishop of the United Methodist Church Greater New Jersey Conference, based in Ocean Township, which has 572 member churches. "No matter what industry, we want to be there to support them."

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Here we go again: That new normal on SSM coverage

At this point, I think it is safe to say — as our own Bobby Ross, Jr., has demonstrated numerous times — that many mainstream American journalists have decided that there is no need to cover both sides of gay-rights stories in a balanced and accurate manner. Many professionals in the mainstream press are now practicing a brand of advocacy journalism when covering religious believers whose religious/moral doctrines are not the same as their own.

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