As some of you have noticed, we are currently having some technical difficulties. This has required us to turn off the comments sections of the blog. Our tech friends at Gospelcom.net hope to have matters straightened out by Monday or thereabouts. So we'll take today off and, maybe, swing back into action late Sunday with comments about religion coverage in the weekend editions. Hang in there with us. Cyberspace can be complicated, sometimes.
Oh, what the heck.
Did anyone else see that "Blessed be the Bloggers" story in the Raleigh News and Observer? On one level, it's a short feature about the role that blogs are playing in all kinds of denominations, from totally free-church Protestantism to American Catholicism. But it opens with a very concrete test case that deserves more inspection -- the role of bloggers in the minor earthquake at the recent Southern Baptist Convention.
Reporter Yonat Shimron opens the door, but it doesn't look like her editors gave her the room she needed to flesh out this major story.
Blogs give ordinary people a pulpit and make clergy one of a crowd. Nowhere was this more obvious than in the weeks leading up to the Southern Baptist Convention, held last week at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex. In recent years, the convention of the nation's largest Protestant denomination has offered up unchallenged candidates for the presidency.
But this year, many Southern Baptists were unhappy with the endorsed candidate, the Rev. Ronnie Floyd of Springdale, Ark. The bloggers among them got online and vented. By the time delegates -- called "messengers"-- arrived in Greensboro, they were ready to give challenger [Frank] Page their vote. It's impossible to say how many of the messengers actually read any of the blog entries. But there was no question the bloggers created a buzz.
Actually, the "moderates" over at Associated Baptist Press had this story going into the convention. Click here to see their story on the rising tide of Baptist bloggers. And, of course, I mentioned this angle here at GetReligion in my post on the surprise election of Page. Since then I've continued to receive emails from old Baptist sources of mine about the blogging hooks in this story.
No doubt about it. There's a story in there that affects everybody from the Southern Baptists to the Episcopalians. As the old saying goes: Freedom of the press belongs to people who own one.
I hope ours is back up and running very soon. See you in the comments pages in a day or two.