Yesterday, on fan page ala’ moi, one Michael Haberlein posted this:
Hey John! I have a question: I have listened to you online on the radio station in Pittsburgh [WORD-FM 101.5] and just read your article in Crosswalk.com. As the websites for both of those things look pretty Christian-conservative, I’m surprised that they let you talk or write under their name? Don’t they think you are a little radical, what with all your writings about the idea that God thinks homosexuals are “ok” just as they are and loves them just as much? – Signed – a partnered gay man in Michigan.
Crosswalk is more than “pretty” conservative; it’s so conservative it has to turn left to get back to right. Crosswalk is the flagship online product of the mighty Salem Web Network—which is owned by Salem Communications, “a leading U.S. radio broadcaster, Internet content provider, and magazine and book publisher targeting audiences interested in Christian and family-themed content and conservative values.” The company owns and operates approximately 100 Christian radio stations, including twenty-three stations in the top 25 markets. In 2004, Time magazine named Salem’s founder and owner, Stuart Epperson, one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America.
Both founders [of Salem–being Epperson and his brother-in-law, Edward Atsinger III] have served on the Council for National Policy. They gave $100,000 to the Bush presidential reelection campaign and $780,000 to the 2000 “California Defense of Marriage Act” (Proposition 22) ballot measure.”
And that’s just … those two things.
Put simply, there’s not a whole lot that happens in the world of “morals-based” conservative politics and activism to which Epperson and Atsinger are not in some real way connected.
And there I am, being featured on the front page of Salem Communication’s largest website. And though there’s nothing even vaguely lefty about “Constantly Living the Great Commandment is Impossible — And That’s Okay,” Crosswalk has also run such pieces of mine as, “What Would Jesus Do if Invited to a Gay Wedding?,” “The (Confusing?) Power of the Devout Gay Christian,” “Away, Gay Christians! But About That Charitable Work You Do …”, “Nothing Says Lovin’ Like a Lesbian Christian Minister With an Oven,” “Our Church: “Wanna Be a Deacon? Then Sign This Anti-Gay Statement,” and, “How I Broke The Heart Of My Lesbian Friend.” (Not to mention stuff like, “Does the Holy Spirit Vote Republican?”, “Beyond the Christianization of Abortion,” and, “Christians: Don’t Too Readily Dismiss Atheists/Rationalists.” )
In the three and a half years I’ve been blogging for Crosswalk, no one there has ever treated me with anything less than gracious kindness. They don’t vet my stuff before it appears on their site; they simply trust me not to be too offensive to the sensibilities of their vast audience. And I take care not to betray that trust. Some of my recent posts around the relationship between gays and Christians, for instance, I haven’t published on Crosswalk, for the same reason that I wouldn’t go to a Trappist monastery and start talking a lot. It would just be obnoxious.
Plus (and mainly), I don’t want to be cut off from Crosswalk’s audience. I don’t want to talk only to people who agree with me on everything. Then nothing changes.
In a culture increasingly marked by radical polarization, I’m proud to write about Christianity for both Crosswalk.com on the (far) right, and The Huffington Post on the (far) left. It’s a slightly tricky tightrope walk, for sure. But I’ve never published a word on either site in which I didn’t fully believe.
We so often hear how those on one side of an issue simply refuse to listen to those on the other, how these days everyone is so blinded by their own convictions that they’re incapable of little more than reflexively demonizing all who disagree with them. But I go to bed every night with clear reason to believe that it’s all a bit more complicated than that—that, for all of the yelling and screaming with which we’re daily bombarded, most of us aren’t deaf yet.
Speaking of not being deaf, you’re invited to join/”like” the conversation always going on on my Facebook page.