A reader sent us a link to a piece in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on a Catholic church music minister who was fired, presumably because he married another man.
The reader pointed out that the piece appears to be a personal column, which gives the writer some leeway in voicing opinions. At the same time, though, “the way it’s written is a real gray area.”
In other words, it looks and feels in a lot of ways like news reporting, not an op-ed. On the other hand, it’s clear from the beginning that the writer has chosen a hero and a villain in this scenario. The hero is the fired music minister. The villain is any church that would have a problem with two consenting adults of the same gender falling in love and exchanging wedding vows.
From a journalistic perspective, the question is: Does the writer — regardless of whether her article is opinion writing or news reporting or a hybrid combination of both — have any responsibility to demonstrate a basic understanding of Catholic theology?
More on that question in a moment.
First, though, let’s start with the top of the story. It gives a pretty clear idea of the writer’s point of view:
CHATTANOOGA, TENN. — If this were any other year, John Thomas McCecil would be busy prepping for another weekend service, planning Advent, the annual children’s program and Christmas Eve celebration near here at Our Lady of the Mount Catholic Church.
But after a decade as the minister of music at the church in Lookout Mountain, Georgia, and in a sad turn of events a few months ago, John Thomas says he was forced to resign because, in church parlance, he was in a “questionable” relationship.
Let that simmer for a moment.
If you’re still wondering what that means exactly, here it is in more simple terms: John Thomas is happily married to a man. He’s gay.
That fact was known by church administrators at Our Lady, and as far as he could discern, no one really cared.