As documented repeatedly by my colleagues at GetReligion, precious few reporters have bothered to interview conservative United Methodists about the church’s teachings on marriage and sexual morality. What’s remarkable is when the subject of a one-sided interview does something other than describing the traditionalist side in terms that avoid mere name-calling.
Consider the case of Anne Ford of Chicago magazine interviewing President Lallene J. Rector, of the United Methodist Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in the northern Chicago suburb of Evanston. (As the hyphen suggests, “Evangelical” in this name does not refer to a theological emphasis, but to Garrett’s assimilation of Evangelical Theological Seminary in 1974.)
A pleasant surprise emerges in the first paragraph. Ford’s question repeats the Godbeat meme that the United Methodist Church’s General Conference “voted to ban ordaining LGBTQ people and performing same-sex marriages.”
Rector, while beginning on a note of horror about the vote, works her way around to a touch of humor:
Our students are devastated. I was personally sickened. We’re a left-leaning school. We’re on the record as being inclusive. After the vote, our lobby and stairwells were rainbowed up. The denomination’s been arguing over these issues since 1972, and as you can imagine, many people are fed up. We’ve lost a lot of seminary students to other denominations.
Any writer who must consult the academia-to-English dictionary regularly must give thanks for a seminary dean who uses a phrase as playful as “rainbowed up.”
So what can be found in this interview that is crucial, in terms of journalists learning where this local, regional, national global story might be moving?