religious exemptions

Immunizations + religious exemptions: Funny thing happens when Washington Post writes about this

Immunizations + religious exemptions: Funny thing happens when Washington Post writes about this

OK, I lied.

A funny thing didn’t really happen when the Washington Post wrote about child immunizations and religious exemptions.

But I had to try some way to get you to read a serious post that doesn’t involve white evangelical support of President Donald Trump … or sex abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church and Southern Baptist Convention … or other, juicier, culture-war topics that seem to drive traffic in the social-media age.

What actually happened is good news, except that positive posts don’t usually turn viral — and hey, we’re all trying to get clicks.

However, since you’ve read this far, feel free to go ahead and consider this recent story — pulled from my guilt folder — by Sarah Pulliam Bailey, one of the Post’s award-winning religion writers and a former GetReligion contributor.

Bailey’s lede:

Recent measles outbreaks in states such as Washington, New York and New Jersey have cast a spotlight on a group of Americans who receive exemptions from immunizing their children on the grounds that the vaccines violate their religious freedoms.

Now the states that suffered outbreaks are taking aim at those exemptions. In recent weeks, lawmakers in the New JerseyNew YorkIowaMaine and Vermont state legislatures have proposed eliminating religious exemptions for vaccines. A Washington state representative has proposed tightening the state’s religious exemption while eliminating a separate law that allows for a personal or philosophical exemption from immunization.

Vaccination proponents and anti-vaccination activists are watching to see whether some states will follow California, which got rid of religious and personal exemptions for vaccines after a Disneyland-linked outbreak of measles that began in 2014. The only students there who can go without a vaccination without a doctor’s signature are those who are home-schooled.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Show me the money: Coverage of Texas adoption bill improving, but questions remain

Show me the money: Coverage of Texas adoption bill improving, but questions remain

Good news: Media coverage of a Texas lawmaker's bill that he says is designed to protect the religious freedom of faith-based adoption agencies is improving. 

Bad news: That coverage remains flawed.

I'll delve into specifics in a moment, but first, some important background: Earlier this week, I criticized The Associated Press for a slanted headline — and story — on the Lone Star State legislation.

The biased AP headline that sparked my concern:

Texas adoption agencies could ban Jews, gays, Muslims

The Dallas Morning News and many other news organizations in Texas and across the nation ran with the global wire service's spin. Those pushing the AP storyline included a state politics reporter for the Dallas newspaper.

Today's Dallas Morning News coverage of the bill passing offers a fuller, fairer treatment than the original AP report, starting with the front-page headline:

Religious protections for adoption agencies OK’d

The lede:

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Hey AP, your slanted headline on Texas adoption story is why so many distrust mainstream press

Hey AP, your slanted headline on Texas adoption story is why so many distrust mainstream press

This Associated Press headline screams discrimination:

Texas adoption agencies could ban Jews, gays, Muslims

But is anti-Jewish, anti-gay and/or anti-Muslim discrimination really the emphasis of a Texas lawmaker's bill that he says is designed to protect the religious freedom of faith-based adoption agencies?

Or is the idea that, say, a Baptist ministry licensed by the state should be able to adhere to its "sincerely held religious beliefs" and choose only parents in keeping with its beliefs — meaning heterosexual, married, Christian couples?

AP — in a slanted report that illustrates why so many Americans doubt the mainstream press' ability to be fair and accurate — seems uninterested in telling both sides of the story.

From the beginning, the wire service report — which was touted on this morning's daily news email from The Dallas Morning News — seems mainly concerned with the perspective of gay-rights advocates:

Parents seeking to adopt children in Texas could soon be rejected by state-funded or private agencies with religious objections to them being Jewish, Muslim, gay, single, or interfaith couples, under a proposal in the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Five other states have passed similar laws protecting faith-based adoption organizations that refuse to place children with gay parents or other households on religious grounds — but Texas' rule would extend to state-funded agencies. Only South Dakota's is similarly sweepingly.
The bill had been scheduled for debate and approval Saturday in the state House, but lawmakers bogged down with other matters. It now is expected to come up next week.
Republican sponsors of Texas' bill say it is designed to support the religious freedom of adoption agencies and foster care providers. Many of the agencies are private and faith-based but receive state funds.
But opponents say it robs children of stable homes while funding discrimination with taxpayer dollars.
"This would allow adoption agencies to turn away qualified, loving parents who are perhaps perfect in every way because the agency has a difference in religious belief," said Catherine Oakley, senior legislative counsel for the Human Rights Campaign. "This goes against the best interest of the child."

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Shotgun approach: Articles on Mississippi lawsuits are short, loud and messy

Shotgun approach: Articles on Mississippi lawsuits are short, loud and messy

The progressive crusade to Clean Up the Bigoted Bible Belt revisits Mississippi this week. And as always, some professionals in the mainstream media are taking a shotgun approach -- blasting all matters of religious objections, for everyone in every situation, paying no attention to the fine details.

First, Reuters reported on the American Civil Liberties Union, filing for an injunction against Mississippi's new Religious Liberty Accommodations Act, which allows religious objections to same-sex marriage.  

Then the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported on the Campaign for Southern Equality, which is trying to reopen a lawsuit against the same law. The organization in 2014 got the U.S. District Court to overturn the state's ban on gay marriage.

Both articles make the issues as murky as water in a Mississippi bayou.

Let's start with the hometown newspaper:

Tuesday's lawsuit is the second filed in two days over the divisive bill. Monday, the ACLU filed a suit against the state department of health to declare the bill unconstitutional.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

In battle of gay rights vs. individual conscience in Missouri, here's a surprising winner

In battle of gay rights vs. individual conscience in Missouri, here's a surprising winner

When it comes to political fights pitting gay rights vs. religious freedom, so much mainstream media coverage skews one way.

It's not terribly difficult to guess which way (here at GetReligion, editor Terry Mattingly even coined a special term for it).

This USA Today story this week is typical of the slanted (read: left-leaning) approach that many purportedly balanced news stories take concerning LGBT issues. In this piece, the gay-rights advocates are presented as rational and only concerned about fighting discrimination. The conservative religious types toting Bibles are depicted as "ugly" and "nasty." At least that's my impression after reading the national newspaper's take.

But hey, let's focus on the positive, not the negative, today and critique a solid, well-rounded news story from The Associated Press.

This piece benefits from three important "p" adjectives: Precise language. Proper framing. Purposeful balance.

Let's start at the top:

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri voters, who were among the first nationally to adopt a constitutional ban on gay marriage, could get a say later this year on whether to grant greater religious protections to some business owners and individuals who object to same-sex marriage.
A proposed constitutional amendment that got its first hearing Tuesday in a Senate committee would prohibit government penalties against those who decline to provide goods or services "of expressional or artistic creation" for same-sex marriage ceremonies and celebrations.
The Missouri measure doesn't list specific types of business people who would be covered — though it comes as bakers, florists and photographers in other states have faced legal challenges for declining to provide services for same-sex weddings.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Flowers, cakes and objections to same-sex weddings

In two recent posts — here and here — I critiqued media coverage of proposed religious exemptions for florists, bakers, photographers and others opposed to same-sex marriage. Last month, I examined news reports on a federal judge striking down the ban on same-sex marriage in my home state of Oklahoma.

In Sunday’s Tulsa World, those subject areas came together in a front-page story:

Oklahoma may soon join a growing number of states where same-sex marriage laws and religious liberty concerns are on a collision course.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Same-sex marriage vs. religious liberty ... another twist

Love is in the air. Or at least more marriage headlines are filling up my computer screen. (And perhaps this would be a good time for me to give a shoutout to my lovely bride and fellow GetReligionista, Tamie. I know she’ll love this video.) Earlier this month, I highlighted — and praised — Reuters’ coverage of what it called a “new twist” in the same-sex marriage debates: proposed religious exemptions for florists, cake makers and others opposed to the practice. In a straightforward account of an Oregon proposal, the wire service presented the facts and quoted both sides.

But in perusing this week’s news, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Oregon anymore. So, let’s try Kansas.

Gay rights advocates are outraged over a bill — passed by Kansas lawmakers earlier this week — that would allow businesses and state government employees to deny services to same-sex couples if “it would be contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Pod people: A little GetEducation for GetReligion

In the 1990s, before I became a religion writer, I covered education for The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City’s daily newspaper. I wrote numerous stories on the school choice movement, from vouchers to magnet schools to charter schools.

Please respect our Commenting Policy