sexual assault

Friday Five: Kavanaugh and more Kavanaugh, historic church closing, Indonesia quake, baseball

Friday Five: Kavanaugh and more Kavanaugh, historic church closing, Indonesia quake, baseball

As The Associated Press reports, the U.S. Senate voted 51-49 today to move forward with consideration of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

That means a final vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation could occur over the weekend, the AP notes.

Once again this week, the battle over the court’s future — riveted by Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegation against the judge — had plenty of religion angles.

Look for much more on that as we dive into the Friday Five:

1. Religion story of the week: Speaking of Kavanaugh, Washington Post religion writer Michelle Boorstein has an interesting piece out today on how the fight over the judge is dividing his Catholic Church in D.C.

Another compelling angle from a Godbeat pro: The Atlantic’s Emma Green explores why some conservative women are angry about the treatment of Kavanaugh.

Other coverage that we’ve mentioned at GetReligion include Religion News Service’s focus on the Religious Left response to Kavanaugh and how an Oklahoma pastor’s sermon of Kavanaugh gained him not-so-positive notoriety.

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Kavanaugh-Ford: Trump's Supreme Court nominee references Catholic faith in dramatic hearing

Kavanaugh-Ford: Trump's Supreme Court nominee references Catholic faith in dramatic hearing

It’s a big, big news day.

But sorry, Associated Press: As dramatic as it is, today’s Kavanaugh-Ford testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee does not rise to the level of the John F. Kennedy assassination, the Challenger explosion or 9/11. Not even close.

As my friend John Dobbs put it on Twitter, “Are you insane?”"

Seriously, whoever is tweeting to AP’s 12.9 million followers might want to tone down the historical comparisons. Today’s hearing, it seems to me, is more comparable to past live TV news dramas, such as the Thomas-Hill experience of 1991 — only on steroids in the social media era.

That said, I’ll confess that I’ve been glued to the live feed on my computer all day, so much so that I’m rushing to type this post during a 15-minute break this afternoon.

Since this is GetReligion, we need a religion angle: Enter the uber-talented Emma Green of The Atlantic with a nuanced piece published Wednesday on why Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, “is a test for the conservative legal movement.”

Green’s lede:

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Next act in Southern Baptist drama? Judge Paul Pressler still fighting 'closet' accusations

Next act in Southern Baptist drama? Judge Paul Pressler still fighting 'closet' accusations

The telephone calls began in the early 1980s, including one from a liberal Baptist with a five-star track record in American politics and media. I was the religion-beat reporter at The Charlotte News at the time, the long-gone afternoon paper that operated alongside The Charlotte Observer.

The big news in American religion back then was the conservative revolt in the giant Southern Baptist Convention, which began in the late 1970s and took six-plus years to run its course, in terms of changes in national SBC boards and agencies. The leaders of this revolt were Texas Judge Paul Pressler and the Rev. Paige Patterson.

Readers may have heard of Patterson, since he has made a bit of news in recent weeks. You think? To catch up, see this post from yesterday: "Watching Southern Baptist dominoes: Whither the Paige Patterson files on 2003 rape report?"

The calls in the early 1980s, however, were about Pressler. They focused on rumors -- not public documents and events that could lead to coverage -- that Pressler had been accused of sexual abuse by a young man in the Presbyterian church where the future judge was a youth leader, before he became a Southern Baptist.

The rumors continued, leading to fierce debates about the importance of out-of-court settlements and other complications linked to Pressler's past. Now, the Pressler story is one elite-media headline away from competing with the Patterson drama, as Southern Baptists wrestle with sins in the past and their leadership going into the future.

Yes, that's was the topic of this week's "Crossroads" podcast. Click here to tune that in.

To see the larger context, consider this passage from a Ross Douthat column -- "The Baptist Apocalypse" -- in The New York Times. Yes, there is a hint of a Donald Trump angle here, but this story is actually much bigger than that.

Late last year I wrote an essay speculating about the possibility of an “evangelical crisis” in this era, driven by the gap between the older and strongly pro-Trump constituency in evangelical churches and those evangelicals, often younger, who either voted for the president reluctantly or rejected his brand of politics outright. But I didn’t anticipate that the crisis would take a specific sex-and-power form -- that the Trump presidency and the #MeToo era between them would make the treatment of women the place where evangelical divisions were laid bare.

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Another chapter in the tragic story of sin and scandal at Baylor, the world's largest Baptist university

Another chapter in the tragic story of sin and scandal at Baylor, the world's largest Baptist university

You can't buy the kind of front-page publicity the New York Times gave Baylor University the other day.

Honestly, you wouldn't want to.

This was the Page 1 headline Friday as the national newspaper added another, in-depth chapter to the sad story of sin and scandal at the world's largest Baptist university: "Baylor's Pride Turns to Shame in Rape Scandal."

The New York Times focuses on one rape victim while providing a detailed overview of the string of sexual assault cases involving Baylor football players that have made national headlines for months. 

Before discussing the recent coverage, I'll remind readers of GetReligion editor Terry Mattingly's past posts on the scandal at his Waco, Texas, alma mater. Our own tmatt (who as a student journalist in the 1970s was involved in student-newspaper coverage of issues linked to sexual assaults) expounded last year on what he describes as "the 'double whammy' facing Baylor (with good cause)": 

First, there is a solid religion angle here as the Baylor Regents try to defend their school, while repenting at the same time. Does Baylor want to live out its own moral doctrines? ...
Then there will be sports reporters covering the Baylor crisis and the complicated sexual-assault issues [that NCAA officials are said to be probing] on those 200 or so other campuses. I am sure (not) that the sports czars at other schools never blur the line between campus discipline and the work of local police. Perhaps some other schools are struggling to provide justice for women, while striving to allow the accused to retain their legal rights (while also remembering that a sports scholarship is a very real benefit linked to a contract)?

In a related post, tmatt delved into this key question:

Can you worship God and mammon? Baylor crisis centers on clash between two faiths

My own limited, personal experience with Baylor came in 2003 during my time with The Associated Press in Dallas. For a few months, it seemed like I spent half my life driving back and forth on Interstate 35 as I covered the slaying of 21-year-old basketball player Patrick Dennehy and the ensuing disclosure of major NCAA violations in Baylor's basketball program.

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