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When religion haunts a news story

At Get Religion, a blog on religion and the news, Terry Mattingly explained his idea of “religion ghosts”. A “ghost” is a story that’s “haunted” – that is, “there is a religious fact or subject missing, creating a religion-shaped hole that makes it hard for readers to understand what is going on.”

For instance, the New York Times recently reported on an effort to build a new hospital in rural Florida. A larger hospital objected, saying the new hospital would siphon off patients and revenue, and a legal wrangle ensued. The “ghost” appears in a brief reference to the “Ave Maria community”, which would be near the new hospital. This is the college town built around “Catholic values”.

It also turns out that the doctor starting the hospital is “a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College in California – a small, very doctrinally conservative Catholic liberal arts college”. ‘So,” Mattingly concluded, “We have a rather young, clearly idealistic Catholic doctor who moves, with his semi-large family, to the Ave Maria area to start a clinic to serve the poor and others near a controversial Catholic town.

“Might religion have something to do with this story?”

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