The Corner

Religion

One of These Days . . .

(Patrick Semansky/Reuters)

. . . I am going to do a thorough writeup of a particularly irritating journalistic genre: “I was raised Catholic, and I was taught [x, which is not something the Catholic Church actually teaches].” An example from the New York Times:

I grew up Catholic, the type of Catholic that is encouraged to bargain. At the age of 7 I was fervently being told by a priest in a box that if I simply said half a dozen Hail Marys I’d be forgiven for being mean to my sister.

This is, of course, pure ignorance. Dean Baquet is right that the New York Times simply doesn’t “get religion,” though instead of “religion” he ought to have said what he means, which is, “We don’t get Christianity.” When the editor of the New York Times says his newspaper is too New Yorky to “get religion,” he isn’t talking about Mahayana Buddhism.

I imagine this kind of thing gets through the editing process in roughly this way: “Oh, the author is Irish, she must know Catholic stuff.” Soft bigotry of low expectations, as someone once put it.

The author says she now prays to “a different higher power. Science, maybe. Or the government.” I wonder whether she knows anything about those, either.

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