Don't ask, don't tell — and don't drink Hutch's Snapple

HutchCover.jpgThe New York Times follows up on The Stranger‘s story about the Rev. Ken Hutcherson, the pastor who believes his pressure made Microsoft back away from its support of a gay-rights bill before Washington’s legislature.

Times writer Sarah Kershaw sees dangerous Deeper Meanings in Hutcherson’s outlandish method to keep people the hell away from his bottles of Snapple:

If there is any question about Dr. Hutcherson’s intolerance of dissent or disobedience — one that is infused with a stinging sense of humor — it could be answered quickly by a glance at the mini-refrigerator in his office. Next to his chair, which is submerged under a lavish white sheepskin cover, a sign on the fridge says, “Warning: I have licked the tops of all my Snapples — Hutch. * And I have tested positive for anthrax.”

Hutcherson has a novel way of dealing with church members who apparently think adultery is no big deal:

Dr. Hutcherson is known for publicly chastising and excommunicating members if he finds out they are sinning, calling adulterers, for example, up to the pulpit and demanding they repent, congregants said.

“And if they don’t want to repent of it, he’ll let them know that this is not the church for you,” said John Stachofsky, 42, a longtime friend of Dr. Hutcherson and a member of the church who goes bird and deer hunting with him.

And Kershaw delivers some damning advice from Hutcherson on how gay people can best cope in America:

“I even get upset when people say, ‘Well, you got to understand what they go through.’ Not when they’ve chosen to do what they do. They can stop choosing what to do what they do, and they can hide it anytime they want. They can hide their homosexuality. Could I take a ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy as an African-American? I could try even to pretend I was Puerto Rican, but I’m still going to get blasted for my skin color.”

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  • tmatt

    It is so interesting to watch the media try to deal with black conservatives, especially in a religious context. Look at the cover of that book. Inter-racial congregations are so rare in North America and when you find them — among Protestants — it is almost always in a charismatic/Pentecostal context. Mainline churches have tried to promote racially mixed congregations and they rarely work for one reason — the members are not interested in progressive stances on social issues. But these churches also cannot be called “conservative,” in the GOP-country club sense of the word.

    Add that all up and you have confused reporters. These churches are refusing to behave.

  • dw

    One thing the Times didn’t mention that the P-I did in their profile is just how diverse Antioch is. One-third of the church is non-white.

    That’s impressive for a church in the South or in the Bible Belt, but it’s extraordinary for the Puget Sound region, where the third largest minority is Swedish-American.

    By comparison, my church, an evangelical PC(USA) church and the second largest Presbyterian church in the Seattle city limits, has more than 500 members… and I can count the minority members on two hands.

    And it’s the diversity that gives Hutcherson and Antioch a lot more cache than, say, the far larger and influential University Presbyterian. Hutcherson has allies among the white megachurches and the small black COGICs, two groups that never mix.

    He’s impossible to pigeonhole, and he’s an absolute force of nature. The press will find it tough to write about him as his star continues to rise.

  • Huw Raphael

    While the liberals often fail in their mushy “diversity” mushy theology, the conservatives often get on power trips. Which, so far, every article about this man has indicated he’s on. Don’t know if it’s true or not.

    While one can’t fault him for the moral theology, one can wonder about the methods: it is prety close to clergy-abuse of power… if the reported methods are the only methods used. If the “adultery” rebuke begins with a quiet meeting that fails to produce any metanoia… then progresses to a more public meeting which fails again. Well, then a public excommunication is called for. But if that’s all that’s there, well then heck, get another church for everyone else too.

    Whereas many laugh at the mega-churches for their focus on the worshippers instead of the Worshipped, this mega-church as depicted so far in the media seems to be focused on the pastor.

    So, he may have made MS back down – but it seems to have been his ego rather than his spirit that did it. No one, yet, other than the MSM seems to be offering that critique. But again, it may just be the image of him created by the MSM that has that ego – not he, himself.

  • locutusest

    Hutcherson and others like him generate such hostility, because they’re perceived as traitors. Social-activist groups have been free-loading off the civil rights movement’s mythology for so long, that they stuggle to believe in the existence of African Americans who are conservative on moral issues. As a matter of fact, Hutcherson is much closer to the mainstream of the African American church than Jesse Jackson. But Jackson’s irrelevance is scary to many activists, who count on Black Americans as their allies, whether or not their respective causes are steeped in racism.

  • locutusest

    One more comment: If “the press just doesn’t get religion,” they really don’t get race.

    Hutcherson’s rough style in front of his congregation is an entirely normal cultural artifact in the black church. His audience was probably nowhere near as shocked as was the reporter Sarah Kershaw, who is white, by the way (thank you google image search).

    The media continually make one of two reporting mistakes on black churches: either they ignore culture, for fear of appearing racist, or they disassociate, like anthropologists studying the exotic. The latter is ignorant, but the former is disrespectful. It’s akin to saying: the long and fruitful legacy of the African American church is not worth my time to study before I darken the door.

    This arrogance is usually on display during election season.