In my 50 years, I’d never been fired. I have come awfully close, but my never-been-fired streak remained intact. Until three weeks ago.
To make matters a bit more embarrassing, it was a volunteer position!
I have written regularly for the Denton Record Chronicle since April 2016. I began with a few rebuttals to a regular religion column that was decidedly anti-biblical. The editor at that time liked my style and asked me to write regularly for the religion page.
When I asked what I should write, he said: “Whatever you’re passionate about!” So that’s what I’ve been doing.
But there has been a change in regimes. My Editor in Chief retired. With my new boss, several of my column submissions were rejected. Several were moved to the opinion page, not being religious enough. Many of my columns were fought tooth-and-nail. When I wrote a pro-life piece, it took weeks for me to “prove” my sources. Several times I was told in no uncertain terms to tone it down or we’d have “part ways.” I’m not very good at that.
Though this hadn’t happened in the previous administration, I assumed this was par for the course for religion-column-writers. After all, as Dave Barry said: “The problem with writing about religion is that you run the risk of offending sincerely religious people, and then they come after you with machetes.”
The first week of my absence, my “spot” was filled by a Washington Post screed against Franklin Graham, who dares to contradict the “theology” of gay presidential contestant Pete Buttigieg. The thoughtful argument goes something like this: Lots of Americans support the LGBTQ agenda, and besides, President Trump has had marital affairs.
Then there’s Leonard Pitt who described Graham (again for his biblical stance on sexuality) as the poster child for all “white evangelicals.” To Pitt, we’re “Judas” – backstabbing the faith – “throwing Christ aside.”
I’m not a conspiracy buff. There’s no liberal or anti-Christian conspiracy at the DRC. It’s a worldview question. Secular humanism (the idea that humans are the end-all be-all of the universe) and theism (the idea that God is the center of the universe) naturally clash. They are, after all, diametrically opposed to one another. Often, the collision of the two worldviews is intense. And often it’s played out in editorial choices.
When I wrote recently about the Denton City Council race, I named names and noted the major religious freedom issues at stake. The column (which was quite prescient in retrospect) was rejected. No problem. It’s their paper. When I published it myself on my own private platform and informed my readers that it was rejected by the DRC, I was fired.
It’s unfortunate. I enjoyed my three years with the DRC. I enjoyed the positive comments from the faith community.
I won’t miss reading, on a weekly basis, the letters printed by the editor describing my stupidity. I won’t miss the warm exchange of ideas (oh yeah, well, you’re a mealy-mouthed stupid-head). I won’t miss the tolerant LGBTQ community who showed up at my house banging on my front door, showed up at our church, and made veiled threats and vile comments online.
I’ve written a lot about the First Amendment. I have it on my study wall to remind me that it is still enshrined in our Constitution. And as long as it is in effect, I’ll keep exercising it.
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