U.S. Capitol

So what cause brought the Rev. Larry Russell Dawson (with a gun) to the U.S. Capitol?

So what cause brought the Rev. Larry Russell Dawson (with a gun) to the U.S. Capitol?

So here are the basics about that tense drama that unfolded yesterday at the U.S. Capitol, in which a protestor pulled a gun and was shot by police.

The protestor was an African-American pastor who leads a small congregation in Nashville that is highly involved in a specific political cause -- to the degree that it's website includes a video appeal for funds to help him travel to Washington, D.C., to lobby for this cause.

So here is the question you need to ask as you look at the mainstream coverage of this story: What was the cause that, according to this pastor, brought him to the U.S. Capitol? Why wasn't this information included in most of the coverage?

You can look, without success, for that information in The New York Times, in a story that does not even identify the Rev. Larry Russell Dawson as the elder of his church. Ditto for The Los Angeles Times, which did include a brief reference to an incident last fall in which Dawson (no reference to him leading a church) disrupted work in the U.S. House of Representatives by shouting that he was a "prophet of God"? But what else was he shouting about?

The Associated Press "Big Story" report that will appear in most American newspapers included a few additional details, but, once again, omitted the man's church ties and information about the cause that kept bringing him to Washington, D.C.

According to court documents, Dawson was arrested at the U.S. Capitol in October after he stood up and shouted Bible verses in the gallery of the House chamber. An online court record says he was charged with disorderly and disruptive conduct on the grounds of the Capitol and assaulting, resisting or interfering with a police officer. He was also ordered to stay away from the building and grounds.
Dawson did not return for a scheduled hearing in November. In a letter filed with his case, he says he will "not comply with the court order, nor will I surrender myself unto your office."

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Tears or fears? The pope, the speaker, prayers and some amazing quotes in a notebook

Tears or fears? The pope, the speaker, prayers and some amazing quotes in a notebook

Just when you thought this was going to be a quiet week (and weekend) on the religion beat, there was an earthquake in Beltway land.

Anyone who has lived in Washington, D.C., knows that the job of Speaker of the House may be the single most overlooked piece in the puzzle that is the U.S. government, in terms of the public failing to understand how much power resides in that office.

So Speaker John A. Boehner, one of DC's most public Catholic voices, hit the exit door only hours after fulfilling his dream of seeing a pope address Congress. This also happened, of course, in the midst of fierce infighting over morality and money -- to be specific, the mountains of tax dollars going into the coffers of an institution at the heart of what St. John Paul II liked to call "The Culture of Death."

All of Washington muttered, at the same time, this question: So, what's the link between the pope's visit and Boehner's exit?

At the very least, the timing became linked -- on multiple levels -- with the emotions of the Francis visit. I don't know what surprised me more, in the elite media coverage: the word "prayer" showing up high in such a blockbuster political story or The Washington Post admitting, in print, that The New York Times broke the story. 

Oh, and the Post almost had the scoop -- on the spiritual level. We will come back to that.

The Times managed to keep the pope out of the lede, but -- after the political necessities -- wrote faith into the equation.

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How to write a bland story about the March For Life

As expected, the journalists at The Washington Post were pretty careful with their coverage of this year’s March For Life. As I wrote the other day, in a challenge to GetReligion readers:

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