I’ll explain what I mean in a moment. But first, a little background — OK, it may turn out to be a big chunk of background:
Twice in the last week — here and here — we at GetReligion posted on the Texas newspaper’s advocacy journalism on a retired Methodist pastor conducting a wedding ceremony for two elderly gay men. In each case, we lamented the Morning News’ inability to find anyone to quote supporting the United Methodists’ stance on homosexuality as “incompatible with Christian teaching.”
Instead, a newspaper that likes to tout its nine Pulitzer Prizes since 1986 settled each time for a “no comment” from the region’s presiding Methodist bishop.
In our last post, I opined:
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.
Same-sex marriage is a big deal within the Methodist Church nationally. The church officially doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, but as you’ll see from the AP story I linked, activists within the national church have undertaken guerrilla actions to defy church teaching because they haven’t gotten their way nationally. They are destroying church unity, but they believe they’re doing it for a good cause. The point is, at this juncture in the struggle within the Methodist church, traditionalists are still in control, and set policy for all Methodist churches. There ought to have been balance in the News stories.
I lived in Dallas, and I know Methodists there. It is absurd to think that it’s impossible to find a Methodist in Dallas who stands with tradition, which is, for the time being, the United Methodist Church’s official teaching. For heaven’s sake, you’ve got a major Methodist divinity school there in town. I’ve never been a religion reporter, but I know at least one professor there who would have given a defense of the church’s teaching — if the reporter from the News would have cared to have learned it. That’s the rub, though. If the reporter and her newspaper don’t believe the other side has a right to be heard, they won’t be heard, and the false impression is given that there is only one side to the story.
That brings me to the reason for this post. It turns out that we were wrong about the Morning News writing two one-sided stories on this issue. Perusing the newspaper’s online religion page this morning, I found a third.
Let’s call it the prequel, as it ran back in January: