Before I get into this strange and troubling post, let me stress what this post is NOT about.
Back in the 1980s, when I worked the Denver religion beat, I did several stories that involved a local congregation in the Metropolitan Community Church. The MCC is a denomination that is best known as a home for LGBTQ Christians and their families.
What I learned was that -- at that stage of its development -- the MCC was a complex institution, in terms of the theological orientations of its members. Yes, there were some New Age-style people, but there were way more clergy and members whose background was in liberal Protestantism (think United Methodists or old-line Presbyterians). And there were evangelicals and charismatics who remained evangelicals and charismatics, other than their views on sex.
So this post is not about a news report slamming the MCC. It is also not a post claiming that it is normal, somehow, for a MCC member/leader to have a secret life involving dangerous sex. Alas, anyone who follows the news knows that "double life" sin can be found, every now and then, in lots of conservative flocks (think Catholics, Orthodox Jews, Baptists).
Now, to the story itself, with kinky details left out. For The Hollywood Reporter, this story is a window into the life of a major "player" in the movie industry, a senior vice president at William Morris Endeavor Entertainment.
The religion angle isn't important. My question: Could journalists do justice to the religion angle, without smearing this man's church? Here's the dramatic double-decker headline. Note the word "ritual."
Death in a Hollywood Sex Dungeon:
How a Top Agency Executive's "Mummification" Ritual Ended in Tragedy
Here is the story's overture, with no religion angle in sight:
For nearly three decades, Skip Chasey, one of Hollywood's top dealmakers, led a delicate balancing act of an existence. One Sunday last November, it all came tumbling down around him.