If readers want to know where The Los Angeles Times stands on the issues the loomed over the United Methodist Church trial of the Rev. Frank Schaefer, all they have to do is read one summary passage in a recent update.
Schaefer, GetReligion readers will recall, was on trial for violating his ordination vows, in which he promised to defend the “order, liturgy, doctrine, and discipline” of his local, national and global church. He broke his ordination vows by performing a marriage rite for his son and another man.
Thus, the crucial Los Angeles Times passage:
… Schaefer’s United Methodist Church does not tolerate same-sex marriage, and Schaefer has become the latest poster child in the fight between reformists and traditionalists, who after learning of the wedding took Schaefer to a church court this month and won. After an emotionally charged trial, a jury of fellow pastors convicted Schaefer of breaking church law and suspended him for 30 days for performing the April 2007 marriage of his son in Massachusetts.
Now, he faces a choice: loyalty to church doctrine, or loyalty to his son and to other gay men and women who might ask him to perform marriages in the future.
OK, three cheers for a rare mainstream media reference to the word “doctrine,” which — properly so — is included along with the obligatory reference to the trivial sounding term “rules.”
Say what? This is a biased wording that plunges right past the problems in Schaefer trial coverage that host Todd Wilken and I discussed in this week’s “Crossroads” podcast (click here to listen in).
Open your local cyber dictionary and you will find this information:
re·form: verb …
: to improve (someone or something) by removing or correcting faults, problems, etc.
In other words, this is not a battle between people who want to defend church traditions and those who want to “change,” “liberalize” or even “modernize” them. This is a battle in which one side — by the word chosen by the Times — are merely attempting to remove or correct an error, a fault, in the teachings of their church and, by proxy, two millennia of church history.
There is, in other words, a good side here and a bad side and there is no need for journalistic coverage that treats both sides in a fair and accurate manner.