Randy Travis

Friday Five: New AP religion journalists, NYT hit piece, Pulitzer donation, Randy Travis baptism

Friday Five: New AP religion journalists, NYT hit piece, Pulitzer donation, Randy Travis baptism

The Associated Press has hired four new religion journalists to join global religion editor Sally Stapleton as part of the team funded through that big Lilly grant announced earlier this year.

They are news editor Gary Fields, Islam reporter Miriam Fam, religion and politics reporter Elana Schor and investigative correspondent Michael Rezendes, who was part of the Boston Globe team featured in the movie “Spotlight” about the Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal.

AP’s announcement follows Religion News Service’s recent additions — as part of the same Lilly grant — of Roxanne Stone as managing editor, Alejandra Molina as a national reporter covering Latinos and Claire Giangravè as Vatican reporter.

With the exception of Rezendes, none of the those hired is a familiar name to me. It’ll be interesting to watch their emergence on the Godbeat scene and hopefully meet some of them at the Religion News Association annual meeting in Las Vegas later this month.

In the meantime, let’s dive into the Friday Five:

1. Religion story of the week: Our own Richard Ostling this week strongly endorsed Rachael Denhollander’s candid new memoir ”What Is a Girl Worth? published by evangelical Tyndale House.

Time magazine published an excerpt of the book in advance of its official release next Tuesday.

And for some excellent journalism on Denhollander, check out the Louisville Courier-Journal’s in-depth piece headlined “The Sacrifice: Rachael Denhollander surrendered her deepest secrets to help put Larry Nassar away.” Yes, there are important religion components throughout, as Ostling also noted.

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'Down with the old man, up with the new': River baptisms make for great pics, many questions

'Down with the old man, up with the new': River baptisms make for great pics, many questions

As you may recall, country singer Alan Jackson got a little crazy on the Chattahoochee (but he never got caught). He learned "a lot about livin' and a little 'bout love."

Another country song came to mind, though, as I read an Associated Press feature on baptisms in North Georgia's Chattahoochee and Coosawattee rivers.

Yes, Carrie Underwood sang about "Something in the Water."

But I'm talking about "Baptism" by Kenny Chesney and Randy Travis, which includes these vivid lyrics:

The summer breeze, made ripples on the pond
Rattled through the rings and the willow trees beyond
Daddy in his good hat, mama in her Sunday dress
Watched in pride, as I stood there in the water up to my chest
And the preacher spoke about the cleansing blood
I sank my toes into that East Tennessee mud
And it was down with the old man, up with the new
Raised to walk in the way of light and truth
I didn't see no angels, just a few saints on the shore
But I felt like a new baby, cradled up in the arms of the Lord

In case I haven't made it clear, I thought the idea of the AP story — river baptisms — was brilliant.

Here's the lede:

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