Prince Harry

Yo, New York Times editors: The Episcopal Church's leader is The Most Rev. Michael Curry

Yo, New York Times editors: The Episcopal Church's leader is The Most Rev. Michael Curry

Needless to say, your GetReligionistas understand that people in the press — on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean — are happy that there is a new baby in England’s Royal Family, and one with a complex and interesting connection to the USA.

Journalists may not be as excited as Prince Harry is, at this moment in time. But that is understandable. Check out the top of this New York Times report about the prince’s informal and very untraditional presser, which — #GASP — broke with the royal norm. I think the key word here is “amazing.”

LONDON — Prince Harry could barely contain himself. Facing a news camera to announce his son’s birth, he rubbed his hands together, bounced on the balls of his feet and seemed unable to stop himself from grinning, even for a second.

“It’s been the most amazing experience I can ever possibly imagine,” he said, standing in front of the stables at Windsor Castle, where two black horses nodded behind him.

“How any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension, and we’re both absolutely thrilled,” he said about his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex. The duchess, he said, was “amazing,” and the birth “amazing,” and the love and support from the public “amazing.”

So that’s that. Later on in this Times report there is a passage — caught by an eagle-eyed reader — that draws us into a subject that has been discussed many times over the years at this here weblog.

The question: Why are more and more reporters and copyeditors ignoring Associated Press style rules when it comes to the formal titles of ordained religious leaders? In this case, I will go ahead and add a question that I have asked many times (one example here): Why do formal titles that have existed for decades (or in some cases centuries) seem to vanish when journalists write about (a) African-American clergy and/or (b) ordained women?

Here is the passage in question, in which someone at the Times (I will not assume the reporter) was caught up in informal Meghan-and-Harry fervor and, well, forgot to give a certain American clergy person the R.E.S.P.E.C.T. that he deserves.

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Old questions about the headline you did not see: Why didn't press spot royal 'fetus bump'?

Old questions about the headline you did not see: Why didn't press spot royal 'fetus bump'?

For years, it was one of the most painful, divisive journalism questions faced by reporters and editors, a question that they couldn’t look up in the Associated Press Stylebook — the bible of most mainstream newsrooms.

The question: When is an unborn child an “unborn child” or a “baby”? When should reporters use the supposedly neutral term “fetus”?

Here is the top of a recent news story that serves as a perfect, and tragic, example of this journalism issue:

A grieving widower has revealed why he shared photos of his dead wife and unborn daughter after they were killed by an allegedly drunk driver.

Krystil Kincaid was eight months pregnant with her daughter, Alvalynn, when their car was struck on a California highway on Sept. 9. Her heartbroken husband, Zach, who lives in San Jacinto, Calif., decided he wanted the world to see the unsettling images of the 29-year-old mother and their little girl lying in a coffin together at their wake.

That’s a tragic example of this journalism issue.

Here is another new case study, drawn from current celebrity clickbait news. After all, it’s hard for journalists to ignore a royal baby bump.

In this case, the New York Times headline proclaims: “Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Announce She’s Pregnant.” The lede is where we see the “problem.”

LONDON — Another royal baby is on the way.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are expecting a child in the spring, Kensington Palace announced.

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It's another edition of the Friday Five: A hopeful religion story, a royal baptism and more

It's another edition of the Friday Five: A hopeful religion story, a royal baptism and more

Last week, we launched this new feature called the Friday Five.

In case you missed the inaugural edition, the idea is this: "At the end of each week, we'll share a few links and quick details in this listicle format. Along the way, we hope to provide a mix of important and insightful information and even a smidgen of humor."

Here goes:

1. Religion story of the week: In a post earlier this week, I already praised this San Antonio Express-News story on how victims of the Sutherland Springs, Texas, church massacre are doing one month after the tragedy that claimed 26 lives. But this story by Silvia Foster-Frau remains my favorite of the week. As I mentioned before, it's hopeful, sensitive and nuanced. It's definitely worth your time.

2. Most popular GetReligion post: What's not to love a post about a royal baptism? This one by editor Terry Mattingly certainly struck a chord with GR readers. The post — titled "Game of fonts: Are questions about Meghan's faith linked to England's past or future?" — was by far the most-read item on our website this past week. (Note to self: Find more religion angles involving kings and queens.)

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Game of fonts: Are questions about Meghan's faith linked to England's past or future?

Game of fonts: Are questions about Meghan's faith linked to England's past or future?

Well, I guess this lofty news source makes things extra, extra official.

Concerning the faith angle in the upcoming royal wedding, Brides.com has proclaimed: "Meghan Markle Has to Be Baptized Before Marrying Prince Harry -- Here’s Why."

Wait a minute: "Has to be baptized"?

Yes, it's time for more British Royals talk, a subject that -- in certain corners of global media -- is even more important than politics. We're talking about the highest possible level of celebrity status and, in the world of click-bait, there is no higher value (check out the three Google News screens of Meghan Markle coverage at Brides.com). That sound you hear is editors and TV producers muttering: "If only Prince Harry had picked a Kardashian."

But the question of Markle's faith is, as I discussed earlier this week ("Royal wedding quiz: Must a 'Protestant' be baptized in order to become an Anglican?"), actually rather interesting.

The bottom line" Since when does some one "have" to be baptized in order to become a member of the Church of England? That would either mean, while consistently being called a "Protestant," she (a) was never baptized in the first place or (b) there was, doctrinally speaking, something flawed about her baptism. If we're talking about the later, that has some interesting implications in terms of ecumenical life.

So this baptism controversy was the issue that host Todd Wilken and I waded into (see what I did there) during this week's "Crossroads" podcast (click here to listen to that).

No, we didn't talk about Brides.com, but the content there would not have addressed any of the questions that we raised. For example:

This bride needs to be baptized! Before marrying Prince Harry, Meghan Markle actually needs to be baptized in the Church of England, which her soon-to-be grandmother-in-law, the queen of England, heads.

Well, that's a complicated question, mixing church and state.

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Royal wedding quiz: Must a 'Protestant' be baptized in order to become an Anglican?

Royal wedding quiz: Must a 'Protestant' be baptized in order to become an Anglican?

If you hang out much with Anglicans, you know that many are not fond of references to King Henry VIII, and especially the role that his private affairs played in the history of their church. I have, as a reporter, heard my share of complaints about that -- especially during the decade when I was an Episcopalian.

However, it is kind of hard to talk about the history of the English Reformation without mentioning the guy.

In the end, the Church of England split off from the Church of Rome. For most people, especially low-church Anglicans, this (a) makes it part of the wider world of Protestantism. However, it should be noted that some people argue that (b) the Anglican via media -- a "middle way" between Protestantism and Catholicism -- is its own unique form of faith. The odds are good that some Anglican readers will be offended by my description of (a), (b) or (a) and (b). This is complicated stuff.

This brings us, of course, to the love life of Prince Harry and faith identification of his live-in significant other turned fiance Meghan Markle.

We will start with an Evening Standard piece that caused a bit of Twitter buzz. The double-decker headline proclaimed: 

This is why Meghan Markle will need to be baptised before she marries Prince Harry
Kensington Palace has confirmed that Meghan Markle will be baptised before her wedding next May

It appears that this report has been removed from the newspaper's website, but here is a cached version, allowing readers to know what all the buzz was about. The crucial section said:

Meghan will begin the process of becoming a UK citizen and will also need to be baptised and confirmed before the ceremony as she is currently a Protestant.

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