WashPost Religion Reporter Notes National Cathedral to Allow Same-sex Weddings, Fails to Include Critics in Story
She had 12 paragraphs to play with, but in none of them did Washington Post religion reporter Michelle Boorstein find any space for a conservative Episcopalian or Anglican to voice objection to the decision by Episcopal authorities to permit same-sex wedding ceremonies in the historic Washington National Cathedral in Northwest Washington, D.C.
"In some ways, the announcement that is expected Wednesday morning is unsurprising for a denomination and a diocese that long ago took up the cause of marriage equality," Boorstein noted in the second paragraph of her January 9 story, but added that "the cathedral's stature and the image of same-sex couples exchanging vows in the soaring Gothic structure... is symbolically powerful."
Also "symbolically powerful" is Boorstein's use of the term "marriage equality," which is the favored language of same-sex marriage advocates and inherently loaded and political phrasing. At issue in the same-sex marriage debate is whether the social, cultural, and legal understanding of marriage should go from one man-one woman to two persons. A balanced reporter would avoid adopting the political rhetoric of one side of the debate, but Boorstein uses it without reservation.
In the next paragraph, Boorstein quoted the cathedral's dean -- essentially the rector of the cathedral who does the lion's share of preaching and sacramental ministry there -- as exulting that "This national spiritual space is now a place where [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people can come and get married."
Later in the story, Boorstein returned to the dean, the Rev. Gary Hall who further gushed that he would prefer to use the liturgy for same-sex ceremony blessings -- they are not technically marriage rites -- for heterosexual marriage ceremonies, which in Hall's mind "still has some vestiges of patriarchy, with woman being property. There's hope in same-sex marriage that it is a teachable moment for heterosexual couples."
"The new rite is grounded in baptism and radical equality of all people before God," Hall insisted. Last month, you may recall, Hall was the subject of the Washington Post's adulation for his pushing his flock to support new gun control measures.
[With this move, Hall is sure to find himself getting many more "Rock on Rev" cheers from others in the media, like the Daily Beast's Michael Tomasky.]
Such a blatant slap in the face to centuries of years of Episcopal/Anglican liturgical tradition and millennia of the broader Christian teaching on marriage as mirroring the relationship of Christ and the Church seems like a great place to bring in a more conservative, orthodox priest or theologian to issue a rebuttal, but Boorstein failed to do so.
Liberal journalists tend to have socially liberal views, and that's their right to hold them personally, but journalists, particularly religion beat reporters, should exercise due caution to maintain neutrality on the subject and be balanced in reporting by including the views of traditionalist and conservative clergy and laity in stories like these.