The Sliming of Journalist Greg Metzger
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 04:12:35 PM EST
There has been, and no doubt will continue to be, much written about the controversies engulfing Rev. Samuel Rodriguez.  But this is not about all that.  

This is a story about the banal hubris of a public figure, facilitated by the unhinged boosterism of a major periodical (and at least one of its editors) that published unsubstantiated ad hominem attacks against a writer in an apparent effort to intimidate, discredit and ultimately silence him.  "So this person," as Rev. Samuel Rodriguez put it in his Patheos interview, "in my opinion, loses any sort of legitimacy as a commentator on issues of the public sphere."

This is the story of a sliming.

Journalist Greg Metzger was in for it.  He had had the temerity to write critically about the protean Christian Right leader, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez at the very moment when Rodriguez was being hailed as the Great Hispanic Hope for the Republican Party.  And what Metzger was writing on his personal blog (and here at Talk to Action) just would not do.  Someone might, you know, read it.  And consider it.  

The sliming was to be a tag team effort by one Timothy Dalrymple the managing editor for content at Patheos -- and the Rev. Rodriguez himself.  

You could tell the slime was coming at the end of Dalrymple's introduction to his interview with Rodriguez, which was to appear the next day.  

Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of the interview, concerning Samuel Rodriguez himself, his responses to his detractors, and the role of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

Dalrymple, who holds a doctorate in Religion from Harvard and a Master of Divinity from Princeton, is ostensibly a scholar, a journalist, and a committed Christian.  But he is nothing if not a Man of Diction.  Thus it was telling that he used "detractors" instead of a neutral term like "critics."  

In any case, the sliming was certainly all that Dalrymple's Tell portended.  

Rodriguez said, among other things:

The intolerance embedded in the hard Left is as venomous as the bigotry embedded in the hard Right.  It's amazing.  On both extremes, you have this cancer of intolerance.  What they fear are voices that really offer a reconcilliatory platform without sacrificing truth.

Who exactly is this "hard Left" and the people who populate it? And what exactly have they said that is venomous, bigoted, cancerous and intolerant?   Rodriguez didn't say -- but he suggested that they might be prochoice.

I am one hundred percent staunchly pro-life.  That offends people. Now, in no form or shape to I discard or disrespect those who disagree with me, but that conviction drives me to want to reconcile, to appreciate the beauty and purpose of every single human being on this planet.  They see it as a political issue.  I see it as a biblical issue.

The sly implication here is that all prochoice people come to their views for non-religious reasons, and must be non-Christian or non-religious themselves. Of course, there are religious and non-religious people on both sides of the abortion issue. Indeed, the prochoice religious community formally includes much of mainline Protestantism and the major bodies of Judaism, epitomized by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.  For these historic Christian and Jewish institutions, making reproductive choices is not only moral, but biblical.

But this has nothing to do with abortion.

Rodriguez's effort to cast Metzger's writing as the malignant effort of an anti-biblical abortion supporter couldn't be more off the mark. Metzger is a Democrat, but his is also a prolife, Christian.

Dalrymple asked Rodriguez to respond specifically to recent critical articles by Metzger and Religion News Service writer, Mark Silk.  And the slime continued to ooze like crude from a BP oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico:  

One of the individuals behind the articles you mention -- and I say this without any hesitation -- has a very discriminating, very bigoted anti-Pentecostal, and in my opinion anti-Latino, presentation.  Looking at other articles this individual has written, he explicitly went after the Pentecostal/Charismatic community and tarnished the group as a bunch of lunatics....  So this person, in my opinion, loses any sort of legitimacy as a commentator on issues of the public sphere.

He was openly referring here to Metzger.  In fact, Greg Metzger is a meticulous writer (and a contributor to Patheos!) who goes where the facts take him and draws carefully considered, fair-minded conclusions.  Dalrymple and Rodriguez present zero evidence to the contrary.  But thanks to the slimefest featured on the front page of Patheos people may come away thinking that Greg Metzger is a "hard Left," pro-abortion, atheist and an anti-Pentecostal, anti-Latino bigot to boot.  

Rodriguez then congratulated himself on his performance in the interview.

I'm not the first Christian leader ever to be criticized.  It's the price you have to pay when you speak the truth with love.  The question is how do you respond.  Do I respond with equal amounts of anger and venom?  I'm not going to cross that line.

A reasonable person who is unfamiliar Rodriguez, Metzger, and for that matter Patheos, might be wondering what to make of all this. Did Rodriguez actually cross any lines?  They might also wonder, as I did, what editorial standards does Patheos apply to the work featured on their site?  After a considerable effort I was able to find this two sentence assurance in the Patheos "press room."

Our content is produced by the world's top experts on religion and spirituality. In addition, the content is peer-reviewed to maintain objectivity and accuracy.

Elsewhere, to their credit, they acknowledge:

Patheos is not perfect.... We are working to constantly improve our content and resources, and we appreciate your feedback and suggestions.

Clearly, Patheos has some work to do. In the meantime, maybe some one or all the founders, directors, and editors will explain for us what standards of accuracy and objectivity guided Patheos in the sliming of Greg Metzger.  

So what if Mr. Metzger WERE a "hard life, prochoice, whatever"? Does not make him immoral. Prolife people are often prochoice. They understand the value of women as more than empty vessels to be left to die to 'save' an embryo - as if that made sense. Prolife may or may NOT be what Mr. Rodriguez is. Pro EXISTENCE is not quite the same if the value of the adult is not equal to the blastocyte. Those who define all morality as the "Power of NO" cannot hold a candle to those of us who believe in the "Power of YES". We are the ones who affirm the value of all people, not just the unborn. Or "preborn" as they say, more or less making all the rest of humanity merely the "predead". The Power of YES affirms all people and their right to love freely and well, affirms the value of women as more than wombs, affirms things such as contraception as OUR care for creation and OUR family values that preserve and protect family intimacy. Mr. Rodriguez may not like being called narrow- minded and a bigot, but he fits that definition, and he is self serving in fighting Mr. Metzger. Calling Mr. Rodriguez out for hypocrisy and political self promotion is not evil. It is truth. If you don't like it, Mr. R. don't ACT that way.

by Churchlady on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 08:47:00 PM EST

If this is what a publication will do to one of its own contributors, imagine what it would do to you.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 10:58:34 PM EST
that the dominionists/"Religious Right" are very dangerous and growing more violent and open about it.  IMO, this is just an extension of the violence that those who oppose them have already experienced at their hands.

by ArchaeoBob on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 11:07:37 AM EST

Dalrymple has responded to this post: e-online-slime-fest/

Can't say that I am very impressed with it.  I like a lot of bloggers at patheos, but I am get the impression that the people who run it are a little sketchy.

"I believe in a President whose views on religion are his own private affair" - JFK, Address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association
by hardindr on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 02:04:04 PM EST

WWW Talk To Action

Progressives Are Taking Up Religious Freedom Day
In the heat of our political moment, we sometimes don't see how our future connects deeply to our past. But the Christian Right does......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Freedom vs. Fear: Restricting Religious Liberty Isn't The Answer To Terrorism
Last week, a community meeting was held in Spotsylvania County, Va., to discuss plans by a group of Muslims who want to relocate and......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Christian Right Electoral Hegemony, Rising in the States
This is a revised, updated and retitled post I did on the long term trend of significant political progress of the Christian Right and......
By Frederick Clarkson (5 comments)
Who's Been Naughty, Who's Been Nice?: The AFA Explains It All For You
If you're like me, you've been sitting around anxiously awaiting the release of the American Family Association's "Naughty or Nice" list of retailers for......
By Rob Boston (3 comments)
U.S. Department Of Judeo-Christian Values?: Kasich Proposes New Religious Propaganda Arm
According to some polls, the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination is Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who believes that ancient Egyptians built......
By Rob Boston (5 comments)
Scripture Stories: Religious Right Claims About The `Aitken Bible' Don't Hold Up
Tomorrow several conservative members of the U.S. House of Representatives plan to hold a public reading of the Aitken Bible on the East Front......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
The Tallest Statue in the Nation of an Individual
Many a day I drove on I 45 past the statue of Sam Houston.  The monument to the statesman is the largest in the......
By wilkyjr (1 comment)
Honoring Everyone Who Served: A Veterans Day Reflection
In 1952, a private group sought permission from government officials to erect a large cross atop Mt. Soledad near San Diego. They did it......
By Rob Boston (5 comments)
One Million Maniacs?: AFA Attacks Magazine For Highlighting Family Headed By Same-Sex Couple
I have a daughter named Claire who is 21 years old and working her first job in journalism since graduating from college. I'm awfully......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
What Catholic Neo-Confederates Don't Want You To Know About Secession
During the summer of 2013 I wrote several posts about Catholic Neo-Confederates. My purpose was to explain the activities of libertarians such as Tom......
By Frank Cocozzelli (10 comments)
Sex And Common Sense: Texas Public School Reconsiders `Chastity' Speaker
A self-appointed expert on sex and relationships won't speak at an El Paso, Texas, high school - for now.Jason Evert runs an outfit called......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Two Trials that Impacted American Religion
Silent movie, Birth of a Nation, became the first blockbuster screen phenomena.  Civil Rights groups deplored the production and sought to ban it.  It......
By wilkyjr (3 comments)
The Francis Trajectory.
The recent dust-up over the meeting between Pope Francis and culture warrior Kim Davis has caused the Pontiff's stock to fall somewhat among liberals.......
By Frank Cocozzelli (11 comments)
Taking Care Of Business: Religious Right Group Plans `Religious Liberty' Ratings For Companies
My inbox this morning contained a press release from the American Family Association (AFA). The Tupelo, Miss.-based Religious Right group has exciting news: It......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Quest for Utopia
Surfing through old videos on youtube I found some interesting tapes of H. L. Hunt.  Certainly one of the original founders of the modern......
By wilkyjr (6 comments)

Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (2 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (1 comment)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (0 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (2 comments)
Evangelicals Seduced By Ayn Rand Worship Crypto-Satanism, Suggest Scholars
[update: also see my closely related stories, "Crypto-Cultists" and "Cranks": The Video Paul Ryan Hoped Would Go Away, and The Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand/Satanism Connection Made Simple] "I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" -......
Bruce Wilson (10 comments)
Ted Cruz Anointed By Pastor Who Says Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage, and Constitution Based on the Bible
In the video below, from a July 19-20th, 2013 pastor's rally at a Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, Tea Party potentate Ted Cruz is blessed by religious right leader David Barton, who claims......
Bruce Wilson (1 comment)
Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (2 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (2 comments)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (3 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (4 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (5 comments)

More Diaries...

All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.