Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte

Same old, same old: The Charlotte Observer tilts one way in women-as-Catholic-priests story

Same old, same old: The Charlotte Observer tilts one way in women-as-Catholic-priests story

Way back in the 1970s and very early 1980s, a Christian singer named Keith Green was quite popular. At the end of "Jesus Commands Us to Go," one of his more heartfelt songs, Green addresses his audience, saying, "I don't know what you think a Christian is. I've known so many people that think [being] a Christian means going to church a lot. You may have heard this before, but going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to McDonald's makes you a hamburger."

That analogy has stayed with me, and it popped up when the Charlotte Observer informed us on the last Sunday in April that a "Rebel Catholic group defies church, ordains woman priest in NC."

Although the story somewhat begrudgingly points this out, it should be clear to serious observers that the church-Christian-McDonald's-hamburger analogy fits here: Calling yourself a Catholic "priest," even if done by a "rebel group," doesn't make you one, any more than calling myself a Big Mac would, you know....

From this oh, oh, oh so familiar article:

An international group defiantly opposed to the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on women priests Sunday ordained its first woman Catholic priest in the 46 counties that make up the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte.
The ordination ceremony for Abigail Eltzroth happened in Asheville at Jubilee! – a nondenominational faith community – with Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan presiding.
Eltzroth, 64, said she is the second woman in North Carolina ordained by the rebel group, called the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. ...
But reached for comment Sunday, David Hains, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, said: “I hope that Catholics in the diocese will understand that it would be sinful to receive a fake sacrament from a woman priest and that includes attending a fake Mass.”

Although the Observer puts an official Roman Catholic Church spokesman's comments relatively high in the story, the overall tone of the piece is at least sympathetic towards, if not promoting of, the pro-women-priest camp. #Surprise

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A Catholic priest, an Anglican bishop and a Baptist mom walk into a North Carolina family home ...

A Catholic priest, an Anglican bishop and a Baptist mom walk into a North Carolina family home ...

In the late 1970s, my dad preached for a little Church of Christ in Elkin, N.C., a small town about 45 miles west of Winston-Salem.

We lived there for a year or two when I was in elementary school. I must have been 10 or 11 years old.

I remember that we lived in a church-provided home with a large basement where my brother Scott, sister Christy and I enjoyed playing hide-and-seek. I remember that a neighbor man owned a small store and always gave me a 5-cent-a-pack discount on baseball cards because my dad was a minister. I remember that we had a pet guinea pig named Snowball (she was white, as you might have guessed).

I remember that adults used to smoke cigarettes in the church parking lot after services, and nobody thought anything of it because we lived in tobacco country. I remember that the first time I experienced a shopping mall or a Chick-fil-A came on a trip to the big city of Winston-Salem. I remember that two Catholic popes died one right after the other in 1978 and kept interrupting my cartoons with news reports. 

My time in Elkin was 35-plus years ago, and I don't think about it much anymore.

But my memories came floating back this week when I came across Wall Street Journal story about two twin brothers raised in that same town. 

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Damage already done? Charlotte Observer replaces slanted report on gay substitute teacher let go by Catholic high school

Damage already done? Charlotte Observer replaces slanted report on gay substitute teacher let go by Catholic high school

The Charlotte Observer posted a "news story" on its local news page this week concerning Lonnie Billiard, a substitute teacher at a Catholic high school, who lost his job after revealing on Facebook that he plans to marry his same-sex partner later this year.

The Pew Research Center highlighted the story on its daily email roundup of U.S. religion headlines Tuesday.

This was the link:

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2015/01/12/5443494/charlotte-catholic-fires-gay-teacher.html#.VLWWRWTF8YK

Over at "The Deacon's Bench," blogger Greg Kandra — a Roman Catholic deacon who spent three decades as a writer and producer for CBS News — criticized the piece:

Editorial note: the rest of the Observer piece is a weepy, hand-wringing, breast-beating portrait of a wronged employee who expresses anxiety for all the gay students who fear expulsion simply because they’re gay. It’s a sustained exercise in victim journalism, with fully half of it devoted to quotes by the teacher talking about how this hurt his feelings and that he “never expected to be treated so badly by the diocese.” (Did it ever occur to him that he had violated the terms of his employment? That question never comes up.) It’s a biased, unbalanced journalistic shambles, beginning with the lead sentence: “The local Roman Catholic diocese is in hot water again for anti-LGBT discrimination…”

For readers who looked closely, the story identified the writer not as an Observer staff member but as someone with QNotes. The Observer link did not explain what it QNotes is — perhaps Charlotte readers are expected to know — but a Google search reveals that it's "the Charlotte-based LGBT community newspaper of North Carolina." 

Thus, the story published on the Observer local news page fell squarely into what GetReligion calls "What is this?" As in, is this news? Is it a column? Is it advocacy? 

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