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Patheos – Hosting the Propaganda?

Patheos is a website that features a variety of authors who write on religious themes. They market themselves as “Patheos – Hosting the Conversation on Faith”.

However, sometimes it’s a very one-way conversation. A writer might write a post, allow feedback, and then delete the feedback which disagrees with viewpoints that the original writer prefers. That’s not much of a conversation, if you ask me.

Here are examples of this –

On this page, one Susan Cottrell wrote a reasonably lengthy post, which included content such as a quote from someone else about abominations, and then Susan’s thoughts on this, and other content such as –

If you are worried about ‘being party’ to abominations, then let me ask you this: Do you eat any type of pork? Do you eat shellfish? Do you wear any polyblend or other mixed-fabric shirt? All of those are abominations. Do you have any contact with your wife or daughters during or two weeks after their period? That is an abomination. Do you watch football, which is men handling a pigskin, which is an abomination. I could go on.

Objecting to misrepresentation of Scripture and misinterpretation of others, I took advantage of the feedback section to write –

There is so much to talk about on this page. But Ill try to keep this to only a few points.

Firstly, the quote “You Are Endorsing What God Calls an Abomination” sounds like it’s a reference to a behaviour. But Susan, you have responded “What kind of love is it to call a fellow human being, maybe even your own child, an abomination?” That is not reflective of the original statement. The original statement seems to be a reference to a behaviour, but your framing of it makes it a reference to a person themselves.

And you claim that eating pork or shellfish are abominations. These are the sorts of claims that non-Christians make. You dont realise that Jesus said that Christians can eat anything? See Mark 7. The Bible says “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). Christians need to know their Bibles.

My feedback went through an approvals process, and eventually displayed on the site. Someone else even replied to what I wrote. But within 24 hours, an administrator had removed my feedback. It no longer displays.

During the same period, I also wrote feedback in regards to a post by Susan about whether Churches should be welcoming to sinners. I wrote –

Yes! The church should absolutely welcome everyone initially. Hospitality and welcome are Christian essentials. And the welcomed people should be discipled and taught Christian ways. However, what if the welcomed party refuses to turn from their sin? And what if there are so many people welcomed in, who refuse to conform to Christian teaching, that they then become the majority of a congregation? By that point the church is no longer a real church. To avoid this, there is a line that must be drawn. IE those who refuse to comply must be separated from the true Christians. 1 Corinthians chapter 5 indicates that sincere Christians should not associate with those who call themselves Christians but who are seriously corrupted by sin, specifically those in sexual sin. Christians are supposed to encourage other Christians to be holy (Gal 6:1-5, James 5:19-20, Titus 1:13) while not judging non-christians though (1 Cor 5:12). I suppose some Christians try to draw the line too early though, before giving others a fair opportunity to learn and repent.

However, as with my other feedback, it was removed within 24 hours by an administrator, and is no longer displayed. Factually incorrect statements in the original posts remain, but feedback which politely challenges those falsehoods, has been removed.

The next day, one of the above one-sided articles was featured on the facebook page of the group Christians Tired of Being Misrepresented. So over 70,000 fans of that group were linked to the biased information, with my feedback missing. And so the misinformation spreads unchecked. That’s not “hosting the conversation…” It’s propaganda. There are some who are not troubled by this though – the following week, she sat (pictured 4th from right) on a panel of advisors at the Reformation Project conference in Washington.

RFP_Washington

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6 Comments on “Patheos – Hosting the Propaganda?”

  1. I don’t think you understand how Patheos works. They host a wide variety of blogs that are divided up into Channels: Evangelical, Catholic, Mormon, Muslim, Pagan, Atheist, etc. Each blog author is free to use comments as they want, all the way from disabling comments completely to allowing complete freedom of any and all commenters. How any individual bloggers on Patheos chooses to run their comments has nothing to do with the purpose and mission of the site as a whole.

    • stasisonline says:

      Thanks for clarifying Dan. Yes I suppose there is only so much that Patheos can do. But I suggest that deleting feedback from those who disagree, makes a mockery of the ideal that Patheos is hosing real “conversation”.

      • I suppose it depends on where you think that “conversation” is taking place. I suspect that Patheos considers the conversation to be primarily with and among their bloggers, who represent a wide variety of viewpoints. That is the conversation they host. If you were to spend any time browsing the blogs on their Catholic or Evangelical channels you’d find a large number of posts that you’d likely agree with when it comes to homosexuality. Patheos, as a whole, in hosting such a wide-variety of viewpoints, is hardly “propaganda.” Of course, as you rightly point out, any individual blog there may in fact be unwilling to tolerate differing viewpoints … but that’s a decision of the blogger, not Patheos.

      • stasisonline says:

        I think I hear what you are saying, Dan. That one site may balance out another? But if one Patheos site contains mere propaganda for a given line of thinking, and another Patheos site contains mere propaganda for an opposing line of thinking, although we are given a level of balance by being provided both, what we dont have is ‘conversation’ between them. Rather we have a bunch of echo chambers, where people self-reinforce ideologies that are one-eyed. Patheos are not the only platform where this arises, but they are the only ones Im aware of, that call it ‘conversation’.

      • I definitely think some parts of Patheos are essentially echo chambers. The blog you tried commenting on may very well be that way. But I don’t think that’s representative of Patheos as a whole. Look at it this way: there’s a big party going on in a big room, and a lot of people have been invited. So you have a few hundred people milling about and chatting: some are talking among themselves, some are standing quietly and listening, some are talking loudly and trying to attract attention, and a few are off in the corner simply talking to the wall. Just because a few of the party guests are anti-social or awkwardly social or don’t want to engage with some of the guests doesn’t mean the whole party is a flop.

      • stasisonline says:

        Great illustration. Thanks Dan.


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