Dallas paper advocates for Methodist same-sex marriage

Let’s try this again.

I thought Tamie “wife of this blogger” Ross had a catchy title on her post last week concerning The Dallas Morning News’ inability to find anyone to quote supporting the United Methodists’ stance on homosexuality as “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

That title: “If at first you don’t succeed … find another source.”

Instead, the Dallas paper settled for attempting to reach a single source:

The UMC bishop for this region, Bishop Michael McKee, didn’t return messages seeking comment.

Well, the Morning News had another chance over the weekend to demonstrate its commitment to balanced journalism, as it produced a second story about the same gay couple being married by a retired Methodist pastor:

Jack Evans and George Harris married Saturday in a church ceremony attended by hundreds and punctuated by a challenge to the United Methodist Church to fully accept gays and lesbians.

The couple, together for 53 years, held hands as they walked down the aisle of the high-ceiling Midway Hills Christian Church in northwest Dallas. The ceremony was officiated by the Rev. Bill McElvaney, pastor emeritus of Northaven United Methodist Church. The trio, all in their 80s, brought celebrity through their years of North Texas activism.

“It is not my intent to politicize this service,” McElvaney said, “but suffice to say that George and Jack are offering a gift, an invitation and a challenge to the United Methodist Church to become a fully inclusive church.”

The United Methodist Church officially holds that homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching.” McElvaney risks being charged and tried by the church.

The wedding was held at Midway Hills to avoid repercussions for the neighboring Northaven and its senior pastor there.

So the couple has issued a “challenge” to the denomination — as readers are told twice in the first three paragraphs. The pastor emeritus risks being “charged and tried by the church,” the fourth graf reports. The service was moved from a Methodist church to a Christian Church to avoid “repercussions,” the fifth graf states.

At this point, is there any doubt that the Morning News needs to give the “other side” — the side that supports church teaching — a voice in this story? Hey, maybe the paper could even call that unnamed senior pastor and see where he stands.

Rather, once again the Dallas paper settles for a “no comment”:

So far, the presiding United Methodist bishop for the region has remained silent.

(That statement sounds very much like the Morning News didn’t even try calling him for this story.)

But if the bishop won’t talk, are there no other Methodist leaders — in Texas or the nation — that the Morning News might quote to help readers understand why the “other side” believes what it does?

Or is the Dallas paper content to advocate for one side and make only a cursory effort to give the “other side” a voice? Barring any evidence to the contrary, that certainly appears to be the case.

Of course, perhaps that’s not surprising.

On the same day that the latest Morning News story ran, Rod “friend of this blog” Dreher wrote a post for The American Conservative titled “How The Media Set The Gay Rights Narrative.” In that post, Dreher gave GetReligion-style treatment to a Minneapolis Star-Tribune story on how Minnesotans’ lives are changing six months after same-sex marriage became legal in that state:

It is a classic example of advocacy journalism, and how the media have framed the debate to achieve their favored outcome.

The story comes in at about 2,200 words — long for a newspaper feature. It profiles a gay male married couple and a lesbian married couple, and is filled with rich details about how their lives have changed since SSM became legal. That’s good journalism. I have no objection there. But the reporter makes only a half-hearted glance towards the lives of SSM opponents, noting in a perfunctory manner that some merchants are contemplating shuttering their businesses because they can’t in good conscience provide wedding services for gay couples — and they fear being sued.

That’s huge. To come to the point where you have to choose between your conscience and your livelihood because you have good reason to fear the state and activists will destroy you — that’s incredibly dramatic content. But the reporter doesn’t care to explore that, and the lives of the people having to adjust to that stark reality.

Et tu, Dallas Morning News?

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About Bobby Ross Jr.

Bobby Ross Jr. is an award-winning reporter and editor with a quarter-century of professional experience. A former religion editor for The Oklahoman and religion writer for The Associated Press, Ross serves as chief correspondent for the The Christian Chronicle. He has reported from 47 states and 11 countries and was honored as the Religion Newswriters Association's 2013 Magazine Reporter of the Year.

  • http://readingscripture.org Ron Henzel

    So this was all about issuing “a challenge to the United Methodist Church to become a fully inclusive church”? Just what does it mean to be fully inclusive? Does it mean not leaving anyone out by affirming their sexual choices? So then, does it mean to be inclusive of pedophiles? Why not? Homosexuality was once illegal. Back then most people thought it was obvious that it should be illegal. Perhaps one day pedophilia will be legalized as well. If that happens, should churches then bless those relationships in order to be “fully-inclusive?” And how about necrophiliacs? What about a man who wants the church to bless his sexual relationship with his dog?

    You think this is absurd? You think this is unrealistic? Well, guess what? Thirty to forty years ago when people warned that this day was coming, nearly everyone thought that was absurd. Nearly everyone scoffed it was utterly unrealistic. In fact, they accused people who warned about it of being the 1970s and ’80s equivalent of “homophobic” for even suggesting that gays and lesbians might have such an agenda. They accused them of trying to scare people with foolish slippery-slope arguments.

    Churches were never meant to be “inclusive” of unrepentant sinners. Such people may come and watch and listen, but why should they think they have a right to be included while they hold on to their sin and even promote it as something right?

  • Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz

    In other news, the sun rose in the East today and the tide rolled in on schedule…


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