Plug-in: Beth Moore, Southern Baptist trolls and a scoop that stunned Godbeat Twitter

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In a little-noticed, late-night Twitter conversation on March 3, prominent author and speaker Beth Moore indicated that her Living Proof Ministries had ended its longtime partnership with Lifeway Christian Resources, a Southern Baptist Convention publishing house.

“Adored them but SBC baggage got to be too much,” Moore tweeted, matter-of-factly. “It was heartbreaking.”

A tip about the social media posts to Religion News Service national reporter Bob Smietana set in motion one of the year’s biggest religion news scoops.

Smietana called and set up an interview with Moore, who told him March 5 — last Friday — that she is “no longer a Southern Baptist.” After talking to Moore, the veteran religion writer then spent a nervous few days doing additional research and reporting — hoping no other journalist would learn about his in-depth exclusive.

When RNS published Smietana’s piece Tuesday, traffic quickly overwhelmed the wire service’s website, and the story became a trending topic on Twitter.

By Thursday, the Trump critic’s split with Southern Baptists was front-page news in the New York Times (read the story by Ruth Graham and Elizabeth Dias) and just missed the front page of the Washington Post (see the A2 coverage by Sarah Pulliam Bailey and Michelle Boorstein).

Other interesting follow-up coverage includes Holly Meyer’s report for USA Today, Kate Shellnutt’s story for Christianity Today and Ashlie D. Stevens’ analysis for Salon.

P.S. Kudos to RNS’ Emily McFarlan Miller for her front-page photo of Moore in the New York Times.

Power Up: The Week’s Best Reads

1. How Harry and Meghan sent the Church of England into panic mode: Perhaps you heard that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle did a television interview with Oprah Winfrey. (“A cultural earthquake,” CNN called it.)

In this fascinating piece, Religion Unplugged’s own Timothy Nerozzi explores the theological implications of Markle’s statement that the royal couple had a private wedding before their public church ceremony.

Episcopal News Service’s David Paulsen offers additional analysis on the debate over which nuptials were valid, and Rajnaara C Akhtar and Rebecca Probert explain for The Conversation “Why Meghan and Harry and many others choose to have two wedding ceremonies.”

2. The whiplash of covering the pope’s Iraq trip: A year of tight covid rules in Italy, then 72 hours of crowds: Chico Harlan, the Washington Post’s Rome bureau chief, contrasts the COVID-19 precautions he has taken in Italy for a year with the seeming lack of concern for the coronavirus that he encountered in Iraq.

In other coverage, the Wall Street Journal’s Francis X. Rocca and Jared Malsin write that Pope Francis’ Iraq trip “was fraught with dangers from terrorism to Covid-19” but appeared to pay off.

CONTINUE READING: “Beth Moore, Southern Baptists And The Story Behind The Scoop That Broke The Internet,” by Bobby Ross, Jr., at Religion Unplugged.

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