Religion Meanwhile in Belltown: Mars Hill Comes, Seattle Times Swallows
posted by October 23 at 16:08 PMon
Mars Hill—Mark Driscoll’s anti-gay, anti-woman mini-megachurch—is opening a franchise in Belltown. Praise Jeebus. Commercial real estate doesn’t come cheap in Seattle but there’s apparently a lot of money in Driscoll’s Olde Tyme Religion. Driscoll paid $3.95 million for the building, which had been home to a “troubled” Belltown nightclub.
Like all daily papers in the United States the Seattle Times is cringingly deferential whenever a story touches on “people of faith,” even if those people of faith are douchebags like Driscoll. Reporter Sanjay Bhatt meekly hands the future pastor of Mars Hill Belltown the mic and lets Pastor Tim Gaydos—yes, Gaydos—get away with shit like this:
“The fact of the matter is that everyone who did go to that club or those who come to our services are looking for the same thing—happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment,” Gaydos said. “We just think it’s found in Jesus, not in booty calls.”
Gaydos said his church accepts the Bible as perfect and “without error.”
Hey, Seattle Times? Where’s that balance and objectivity crap you’re always fellating yourselves about? (Hi there, David Postman!) Whenever the Seattle Times covers gay issues you go and dig up some Christian bigot for a little “balance.” Take this piece from the Seattle Times after Washington state’s domestic partner law went into effect this summer. We’re treated to a little sweetness and light about the happy couples—and then Andrew Garber drops these graphs into the middle of his story:
No protesters were on hand Monday, but the Rev. Joe Fuiten, pastor of Cedar Park Assembly of God church in Bothell and a prominent opponent of same-sex marriage, sent out a statement opposing the law.
“God’s law is established in the male-female relationship,” he said. “When the state acts to replace the wisdom of God with the wisdom of the Legislature, we are headed for an uncertain future, and that is putting the best face on it.”
Then it’s back to the happy couples.
So where’s the balance when Christian bigots make the news? There were no protesters on hand when Mars Hill bought that building in Belltown—money that could have been spent on the poor, the lame, the hungry—but Mars Hill has some “prominent opponents” around here. Not just bloggers like Godless David Goldstein, but progressive religious types and homos and feminists. Where’s the quote from a progressive religious figure grieving the “uncertain future” Mars Hill represents? Where’s the quote from a gay resident of Belltown griping about the damage Mars-Hill-style bigotry does to gays and lesbians? Where’s the quote from a feminist taking Driscoll on?
And are you really going to let Pastor Gaydos blandly assert that the bible, like Mary Poppins, is perfect in every possible way, completely free of error?
Perhaps you could’ve gone to Sam Harris for a little “balance” about that. In his book Letter to a Christian Nation Harris points to one of the Bible’s bigger—bigger, not only—errors:
In assessing the moral wisdom of the Bible, it is useful to consider moral questions that have been solved to everyone’s satisfaction. Consider the question of slavery. The entire civilized world now agrees that slavery is an abomination. What moral instruction do we get from the God of Abraham on this subject? Consult the Bible, and you will discover that the creator of the universe clearly expects us to keep slaves…
Harris goes on to cite Leviticus 25: 44-46, which lets us know how God wants us to treat our slaves; Exodus 21: 7-11, which instructs fathers on the dos and don’ts of selling their daughters into slavery; Ephesians 6:5, which orders slaves to be obedient to their masters; Timothy 6: 1-4, which does the same. Even Jesus Christ supported slavery. Back to Harris:
Nothing in Christian theology remedies the appalling deficiencies of the Bible on what is perhaps the greatest—and the easiest—moral question our society has ever had to face.
If the Bible got something as simple as slavery wrong, as Harris points out, it’s highly likely that the Bible got other stuff wrong too—complicated stuff like human sexuality, the role of women in the church, the sinfulness of lobster, etc. There are two contradictory creation stories in Genesis and two sets of Ten Commandments. God orders the murders of innocent men, women, and children. The Bible is without error? Please.
The Seattle Times is all about balance and objectivity—and double standards. A story about the gays? Be sure to get a quote for “balance” from a gay-bashing religious wacko. A story about gay-bashing wackos? No need to get a quote from the gays or anyone else. Because Pastor Gaydos is religious—and religious people get a free pass.
UPDATE: But if the Seattle Times actually spoke to a progressive Christian about the impact of Mars Hill and other churches like it they might learn that Mars Hill’s bigotry is bad for Christianity:
“Majorities of young people in America describe modern-day Christianity as judgmental, hypocritical and anti-gay. What’s more, many Christians don’t even want to call themselves “Christian” because of the baggage that accompanies the label.
A new book based on research by the California-based research firm the Barna Group found that church attitudes about people in general and gays in particular are driving a negative image of the Christian faith among people ages 16-29.”
But the Seattle Times isn’t interested in learning that a Mars Hill is bad for Christianity in the long run (however good it might be for Driscoll’s bottom line in the short run) because then they’d have to print it.
UPDATE 2: Says MHCD in comments:
It makes sense when covering a controversial new law to interview someone against it, because otherwise the reporter is not explaining the nature of the controversy to readers. It is not some double standard that the Times did this in their coverage of the passage of the anti-discrimination law. Now if you could find, for example, similar anti-gay quotations in their coverage of this year’s Pride celebrations, then you’d have a good point. I don’t think you will find that, though.
Really? I think I will—and, hey, here it is. From the Seattle Times’ coverage of this year’s Gay Pride Parade:
Not everyone liked what they saw.
A man, who happened to be walking by with his family, stopped and stared. “I am not from a big town,” he said. “This is a little over the edge.”
Protesters, who identified themselves as Christians, shouted about scriptures and God’s will. Among them was a man who stood on an upside-down crate waving a sign that read “The wicked will not inherit the Kingdom,” and yelled out “Shame on You. Adam and Eve. Not Adam and Steve.”