The Ethics of Outing an Anti-Gay Preacher

I’ve followed Tom Brock for years.  Brock is a Lutheran pastor at a non-descript church in North Minneapolis.  It’s not a mega-church, and I’ve never met anyone who goes there.  I’ve never read anything Brock has written, and I’ve never heard him speak at a conference.

But Brock has been a steady presence on the local cable access channel for years.  In a churchy version of Wayne’s World, Brock’s cable show sometimes has him preaching from a pulpit in a small studio bedecked with ferns, and other times he is interviewed by a waif of an older woman who looks and sounds like she smokes three packs a day.  It is, as I said, a bit like Wayne’s World.  Less famously than John Piper, Brock also blamed the tornado that hit the ELCA convention in Minneapolis last year on God’s wrath against homosexuality.  More recently, he has parlayed that “fame” into a daily radio show on the local conservative Christian radio station.

But my fascination with Brock has always been his mixture of Lutheranism and conservative theology.  I’ve heard him rail against the ELCA — his former home denomination — numerous times.  He’s talked about crashing conferences at liberal churches in the Twin Cities in order to disrupt the proceedings with questions about the Bible.  And I’ve even heard him go after the emergent movement.

Well, Lavender Magazine, the GLBT magazine of the Twin Cities, snuck a reporter into a Catholic support group for men struggling with the “sin” of homosexuality, and lo and behold, Brock was in attendance, talking openly about his struggles.  The article, by John Townsend, is not well written or researched.  He mistakenly refers to Brock as an “associate pastor,” for instance, and he writes that Brock’s church broke with the ELCA over the vote last summer to ordain openly practicing homosexual clergy, when in fact Hope Lutheran left the ELCA (over similar issues) in 2001.

These are facts that could have easily been checked, but weren’t.  Instead, Townsend’s rambling article that neck-snappingly switches from third-person journalism to first-person opinion is most interested in this “get” from one of the support group meetings: [Read more…]