Controversy certainly can raise readership, as newspapers know all too well. Bearing Drift is reaping some mega-hits from the recent St. John's Church Easter sermon controversy.
In the middle of it, all the outrage over an Easter sermon has me wondering what conservatives are really interested in? Parsing words offered in an Easter Sunday sermon with the President in attendance, or all the other issues that threaten to swamp this country?
Contributor Brian Schoeneman got dragged right into the middle of the story when he began to defend his church, St. John's in Lafayette Square across from the White House, and its rector, Reverend Luis Leon, who had presided over Brian's marriage and baptized his son. Brian had attended Easter services last Sunday and knew what had been said, the context in which it was offered, and he knew it was not in the negative way being portrayed.
In his sermon, Luis made reference to “captains of the religious right,” and it was reported in many places that he accused the religious right of wanting to keep blacks in the back of the bus, wanting to keep women in the kitchen, and immigrants on their side of the border. Conservatives erupted in outrage.The misinterpretation or misrepresentation of the message began at Breitbart, then spread to the Weekly Standard, Drudge, Fox Nation, and multiple blogs.
By Tuesday afternoon, Brian, who had been all over the internet trying to set the record straight, finally put pen to paper -- er -- fingers to keyboard, and wrote a post in defense of his parish. The rest, as they say, is history. He explained it all in, "What really happened at St. John's Church on Easter Sunday," from his eyewitness point-of-view, and Bearing Drift's hits went through the roof.
By Wednesday, the Episcopal Cafe newsletter had picked up on Brian's defense as well as the Huffington Post which posted their own response that included Brian's words and a link to Bearing Drift. Boom! Hits skyrocketed again. Brian's post has generated tens of thousands of page views from readers all over the country with more than 125 comments left at Bearing Drift.
Which shows he did the right thing. He was reluctant to enter the controversy with a post, preferring to respond at the sites of misinformation, and he has withstood attacks to which he has patiently responded, often needing to repeat the same answer over and over and over.
As Brian noted in his post:
What happened here is illustrative to me as to why we Republicans keep losing elections. The bitterness, the bile, the hatred that came out because of what people thought Luis said – not what he said, but what they thought he said – was eye-opening. For too many, politics has stopped being about moving the country forward, but has become a bitter personal fight between two sides who both think the other is pure evil.I did not like it when the left sensationalized stories about former President George W. Bush. Now I'm watching the right do the same with President Barack Obama.
Brian ended his post by extending an olive branch:
I am proud of my rector and I’m proud of my church. Don’t believe the nonsense you’ve been reading or seeing in the press about us and about Rev. Leon. But for those of you who, like Thomas, need to see things with your own eyes, I’d like to invite you to attend services with me. Any given Sunday, you’ll find us at St. John’s and we’d be happy to have you.Meanwhile, the hits just keep piling up at Bearing Drift.