virginity

This is not clickbait about Tim Tebow's sex life! No, really! Honest! Click here for more

This is not clickbait about Tim Tebow's sex life! No, really! Honest! Click here for more

Stop and think about this for a moment: How wild are things going to get -- in terms of tabloid news coverage -- if the New York Mets call up Tim Tebow?

This is not a pipe dream, even though there are elements of PR and marketing that cannot be denied. You see, Tebow has been making real progress at the plate in recent weeks, while marching through the minor leagues. And the Mets are horrible. Why not give Tebow a shot and see that happens (including ticket sales)?

But Tebow in New York City? With that media circus in mind, check out the oh-so-cheeky overture to this celebrity news story at AOL (and lots of other publications as well). What is the religion-news issue hidden in the lede?

Good things come to those who wait!

Tim Tebow, who's long expressed his wish to find the right girl for him, has struck up a romance with Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, who was crowned 2017's Miss Universe.

"She is a really special girl and I am very lucky and blessed for her coming into my life," Tebow told ESPN in a new interview. "I am usually very private with these things but I am very thankful." 

Nel-Peters, 23, hails from South Africa, while 30-year-old Tebow is Florida-born and raised.

Wink, wink. Hold that thought.

Later on in this short story, there is this bite of background information, which does absolutely noting to explain the image in the lede.

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Persecuted like a virgin: The faith behind a lawsuit filed by a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader

Persecuted like a virgin: The faith behind a lawsuit filed by a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader

Kristan Ann Ware, a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader, has filed a lawsuit alleging she was discriminated against, in part, because of her religion.

Oh, and because she told fellow cheerleaders she was a virgin.

Wait, what!?

Jim Davis, a former GetReligion contributor, tipped us to the story and posed a question about Ware's case: "Annnnd which religion might that be?"

Yes, that sounds like a rather pertinent question. Right?

Not so fast maybe.

USA Today gave a few clues, mentioning Ware's "religion," "virginity" and "baptism" in the first two paragraphs of its story:

Former Miami Dolphins cheerleader Kristan Ann Ware filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Dolphins and the NFL with the Florida Commission on Human Relations, alleging in the complaint that she faced discrimination and retaliation because of her religion and gender, and that she was told by two coaches in an annual work review not to discuss her virginity. 
Ware, who concluded three seasons as a Dolphins cheerleader in 2017, alleges that the team brought her severe emotional and physical distress in her last year and that NFL players are held to different standards regarding social media and expression of faith. In April of 2016, Ware posted a picture of her baptism on social media and alleges she was questioned about it by team officials before being told to not discuss her decision to abstain from sex before marriage. 

But no form of the word "Christian" appears in the report.

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Newsweek twists message Elizabeth Smart has been sharing with Mormons about sex

Newsweek twists message Elizabeth Smart has been sharing with Mormons about sex

The people who manage modern, digital newsrooms are -- to say the least -- under all kinds of pressure to print a never-ending stream of content with headlines and snappy story hooks that try to inspire readers to click, click, click those computer mouses (and maybe even visit an ad website every week or two).

This has led to all kinds of "you won't believe what happens next" editing, both in "news" reports and in graphics.

This has led to an increase in an old kind of news confusion.

In the past, it was perfectly normal for readers to wonder, every now and then, how a strange news headline ended up on top of a perfectly normal story. Your GetReligionistas have often reminded readers that reporters rarely, if ever, write their own headlines. Editors can make mistakes, too.

These days, it's no surprise that there's lots of confusion -- especially in newsrooms where journalists are asked to crank up their daily production count with various kinds of quickie articles. Often, the goal is to take a hot-topic story seen somewhere else, perhaps in a video that can be accessed online, and then combine a bit of that and a little more of this and quotes from other articles (attributed and backed with a URL) into a news product that rarely even requires a telephone call.

Hopefully, with a jazzy headline, this results in clicks.

I think that's what happened with a recent Newsweek article about a young Mormon woman who, after surviving a hellish kidnapping, has been speaking out on the need for religious leaders to be more sensitive when dealing with issues of sexuality, abuse and even trauma.

The headline that caught our reader's eye: "Elizabeth Smart, who changed Mormons' views on sex, is wary of religion."

Uh, #REALLY?

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No Trump metaphors here! Putting evangelical faith on cutting-room floor of reality TV

No Trump metaphors here! Putting evangelical faith on cutting-room floor of reality TV

And now for something completely different, after what seems to have been a hurricane of news about the alleged love affair between "evangelical voters" and Citizen Donald Trump. Let's look at what happens when faith shows up in news coverage of reality TV.

Oh, wait. What is the difference between "reality TV" and the White House race? Might Trump be winning the hearts of many Americans, including a 30-something percent slice of evangelical Protestantism, because he is a superstar level performer in the world of reality TV?

Oh man, now I'm really depressed.

Anyway, USA Today ran a long, long "news" story the other day about a major development in the history of extreme-romance television, which had this headline: "Ben tells TWO women he loves them on 'The Bachelor,' one is his fiancée." (We have the inevitable ABC News coverage as well, at the top of this post.)

So what we have here is a controversial use of the word "love" by one Ben Higgins. The complicating "love" factor is that Higgins is a strong Christian. So how does this affect life in the "fantasy suite," when bachelor stars can choose to spend the night with the women who are, well, pursuing them? USA Today handles this issue by ignoring it.

Instead, the feverish, wink-wink entertainment-news page prose included passages such as:

But before Ben could ask one woman to spend the rest of her life with him, he had to whittle three women down to just two.
Ben also shockingly dropped two L-bombs on Monday night's episode! In 20 seasons, many women have told a Bachelor that they loved him, but rarely have they heard the guy say it back. Again, Ben proved he is no ordinary Bachelor.

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Campus ministry: Last shot at focusing on Catholic 'nones' before the exit door?

Campus ministry: Last shot at focusing on Catholic 'nones' before the exit door?

On one level, this week's GetReligion "Crossroads" podcast is about young Catholics, Confession and campus ministry, using my Universal Syndicate column from this past week as a starting point.

But "campus ministry," narrowly defined, is not what this podcast is about.

What host Todd Wilken and I ended up discussing (click here to tune that in) was a much broader topic. The key is that my column grew out of a very specific statistic that I saw in a blog post by Marcel LeJeune, who is assistant director of the massive campus ministry program at St. Mary's Catholic Center across from Texas A&M University. He wrote:

We know that of those that no longer identify as Catholic 79% do so by the age of 23 (Sherry Weddell, Forming Intentional Disciples, Page 33). So, young adults should be the focal point of our efforts and if we want to get even more narrow, then the best way to influence young people is to start with the most influential ones in their age group, the leaders. Most who end up becoming influential leaders will go to college. Finally, since 90% of Catholic college students go to non-Catholic schools, we MUST focus our energies on continued growth and dynamic evangelization in campus ministries at non-Catholic schools (mostly public).

Now, that reference to young Catholics leaving the church by age 23 made me, as a journalist, think -- yes, here we go again -- about one of the interesting wrinkles in that "Nones on the Rise" study back in 2012, by the Pew Research Center. Let's jump back in time to a column I wrote about that:

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