Jewish Journal


November 11, 2011

LAT surprised that church collects meal for a sick member


I’m going to have to channel the former GetReligionista in me and complain that the LA Times just doesn’t get religion. This has been a regular problem since Bill Lobdell moved on, and it got really bad last year before making some improvements.

Religion reporting coming out of Spring Street, however, remains spotty. This post at the LA Times L.A. Now blog, which operates as more of an online news briefs section than a blog, is an example of that. It’s by the reporter who has been covering the Crystal Cathedral bankruptcy, leadership fight and sale, and the headline is an immediate tip to what’s wrong: “Crystal Cathedral email asks for food donations for Arvella Schuller.”

Arvella is the wife of founder Robert H. Schuller, and she is recovering from pneumonia.

What is bizarre about this story? Well, that’s what most religious communities do for members who are sick or just gave birth or are on tough times. It’s not unusual; it’s more common than dog bites man, and certainly is not man bites dog.

What is unusual is this detail from the fifth paragraph:

The email asks that the food be delivered to the Tower Lobby of the church, and said that the food would be delivered by a limo driver.

So a church that is in bankruptcy and had to sell its famed campus to deal with creditors has a limo driver? At this point, the post mentions that some congregants were upset about the limo delivery.

But if this was a story at all, that is the story. Previously, the paper mentioned briefly that the church was looking to hire a CFO whose compensation would be capped at $300,000. It seems like financial excess at Crystal Cathedral keeps knocking on the LAT’s door.

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