“Loss of Faith” Headline at CNN misleading

Amphiboly is a pretty common problem for newspaper headlines, and given the way in which people form psychological impressions, misleading first interpretations can often color people’s attitudes even after they’ve figured out the correct one. You’d think that headline scribes would be a bit more careful.

Not here: CNN has a headline that reads: “Mega-preacher’s wife sued over loss of faith” The way I immediately read this was that the preacher’s wife had lost her faith, and was perhaps being sued based on various production and marketing contracts that relied on an honest profession of belief.

But, nope, it’s much crazier: the wife of our old pal Osteen apparently elbowed a flight attendant on a plane, and the woman is suing, claiming that, amongst other things, the errant elbow made her lose her faith. And, apparently, that the shove also gave her hemorrhoids.

I’m not sure which is less plausible. Can you really sue for loss of faith? If so, who would I sue?

9 Responses to “Loss of Faith” Headline at CNN misleading

  1. Glen says:

    I would like to know how loss of faith is connected with hemorrhoids. Where’s my bible and concordance…?

  2. David says:

    Wow. I’ve never heard of something like this happening. However, it doesn’t surprise me. We live in the United States, people can sue for anything.

  3. To paraphrase Arthur C. Clarke, any faith that cannot survive a collision with a preacher’s wife’s elbow isn’t worth many regrets.

  4. Rebel Dreams says:

    I love the way a litigant will conflate about 300 other ailments into the complaint, claiming a causative relationship between them and the initial incident.

    My first novel was recently rejected from a major publishing house because they were “over-served with Fantasy novels”. I was informed that my book was “wonderful” and this was in no way a judgment on my writing, which “clearly deserved publication”. Shortly thereafter, I stubbed my toe, and my son slightly grazed his back while playing hide and seek in a closet.

    I intend to sue the other fantasy writers who cruelly submitted their books to this publisher, knowing it would deprive me of a deal, for these injuries, since I was so distressed by the publisher’s judgment that I was not looking where I was going and stubbed my toe, and did not locate my son soon enough to prevent his slight graze.

    Oh, and I lost my faith, too. I no longer believe in [name of publishing house deleted]. :D

    Do I have a chance?

  5. Kaltrosomos says:

    What a mad world we live in. This is incredible. Pinch me. Anybody. Please.

  6. Terry says:

    Frivolous lawsuits are a feature of any legal system that is based on English common law. This is because english common law depends on common sense, using precedent as guide for what your common sense should be. This makes the application of law very flexible, but if you have judges that don’t use their discretion to dismiss frivolous lawsuits then you get cases like this. Add in the fact that damages are the discretion of the judge and jury, and suddenly you can turn suing people into a career/windfall.

    I would say as a rather devout believer myself, that if someone else can be the cause of your loss of faith, then it probably means your faith wasn’t very intellectually strong (if it can be defeated by argument) or devotionally meticulous (if it can be defeated by a bad experience).

    Whether it encourages you to explore your faith in greater depth, or if you are a convert who realizes that your former faith is a falsehood… it seems to me that the person who caused your loss of faith did you a favour.

  7. Rebel Dreams says:

    Well said, Terry!

    Back in dear old blighty (from whence I hail) there *used* to be common sense. Heck, even the *lawyers* would refuse to take cases with no merit to them… then the ££££ signs appeared in their eyes and it all went to hell.

    Then our last bastion against frivolity was the judges… they did well enough for about 10 years, and then, inexplicably, they, too, went south and soon we had lovely lawsuits like the burglar who broke into someone’s home, with a knife (and thus demonstrating reckless intent to do harm if discovered) cutting his leg on the window he smashed to enter the property, suing the homeowner for loss of wages, because he could not longer work. The suit was heard, even though it was eventually tossed out (phew)… but it was only tossed out because it transpired that the putative burglar a) did not work and b) was suing to “reclaim monies reasonably expected from the sale of goods stolen in this and future burglaries”.

    Mark my words… it’s only a metter of time before those suits can’t be tossed out even under those circumstances.

    [old man yells at cloud]

  8. AV says:

    I’d sue the Lord for not intelligently designing enough evidence of his existence into the world.

  9. Ubu Walker says:

    Perhaps this is a species of a “Loss of consortium” claim? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loss_of_consortium

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