affair

A Bible Belt mayor, an extramarital affair and a newspaper savvy enough to cover the religion angle

A Bible Belt mayor, an extramarital affair and a newspaper savvy enough to cover the religion angle

When the dateline on a news story is Nashville, Tenn., there isn't always a religion angle.

But almost always?

Yes, that's a pretty safe statement. At least was the case during the year I spent in that Bible Belt state capital, covering faith and politics for The Associated Press.

In late 2015, I praised The Tennessean's decision to hire a full-time religion writer — Holly Meyer — after eliminating the position when veteran journalist Bob Smietana left the paper in 2013. In my post two years ago, I proclaimed:

The prodigal Godbeat has come home to Music City!

The USA Today Network publication's investment in Meyer and religion journalism expertise keeps paying dividends. The most recent example came last week after Nashville Mayor Megan Barry confessed to an extramarital affair.

Way up high in the initial main news story on Barry's affair, quotes attributed to the mayor hinted strongly at holy ghosts:

Mayor Megan Barry said Wednesday she had an extramarital affair with the police officer in charge of her security detail, an extraordinary admission that rocks the popular Nashville mayor's first term.
Barry, in an interview with The Tennessean on Wednesday afternoon, apologized "for the harm I've done to the people I love and the people who counted on me" but said she won't be resigning. 
She confirmed the affair with Metro police Sgt. Robert Forrest Jr., which began in the spring or summer of 2016, just months after she entered office the previous fall. Forrest submitted his retirement papers Jan. 17. His final day was Wednesday. 
"We had an affair, and it was wrong, and we shouldn't have done it," Barry, a Democrat, said, looking down as she spoke softly and slowly. "He was part of my security detail, and as part of that responsibility, I should have gone to the (police) chief, and I should have said what was going on, and that was a mistake.
"People that we admire can also be flawed humans, and I'm flawed, and I'm incredibly sad and sorry for the disappointment that I will see in those little girls' faces. But, what I hope they can also see is that people make mistakes, and you move on from those."

But just a bit later in the story — directly from the mayor's mouth — came this direct reference to the Almighty:

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