Religion Unplugged

Double standard? Religion figures differently in news of Ginsburg and Barrett

By Bobby Ross Jr. | Religion Unplugged

Editor’s note: Every Friday, “Weekend Plug-In” features analysis, fact checking and top headlines from the world of faith. Got feedback or ideas for this column? Email Bobby Ross Jr. at

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death and President Donald Trump’s plan to nominate a replacement before the election dominated the week’s headlines.

Beyond the politics, questions arose over whether journalists applied different standards to Ginsburg’s religion and that of 7th Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the liberal icon’s possible conservative successor.

Religion News Service extolled Ginsburg as “passionate about Judaism’s concern for justice” but characterized Barrett as a “controversial Catholic” — a designation questioned by Religion Unplugged’s own Clemente Lisi. (P.S. Don’t miss Lisi’s fact check on Barrett’s faith.)

“Yes RBG’s religion shaped her approach,” RNS’ Bob Smietana said on Twitter. “And yes if (Barrett) is nominee it will be controversial. We can report both things.”

A Reuters story about “a self-described charismatic Christian community” to which Barrett purportedly belongs also drew scrutiny. At the conservative National Review, Ramesh Ponnuru pointed out a series of edits to the wire service’s original report.

Read the full column.

This column appears in the online magazine Religion Unplugged.

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