Independent Online ‘shames’ Christian woman for being true to her beliefs

The Independent Online’s Facebook post (13 September) advertising this article
The Independent Online’s Facebook post (13 September) advertising this article

On 12 September the Independent Online posted an article entitled, “Texts show incredible response to aunt who declined wedding invite because of ‘Christian values’.”

The article referred to a number of screenshots from an SMS message conversation between an LGBT person referred to by their Twitter account “@DPGay” and their aunt, which had been posted online and had ‘gone viral’ after the aunt had declined an invitation to the former’s wedding saying in one of these messages, “As a Christian we won’t be able to celebrate this occasion.”

The images posted online showed @DPGay’s subsequent responses, in which they referred to the aunt’s previously having had an abortion in Tennessee and followed this with the statement, “It’s amazing how selective your Christian values decide to be.” The Independent hailed this last statement as a sort of virtuous coup de grâce.

If this story is genuine— I say “if,” because (quite rightly) the Independent Online article contains very few names. One must therefore at least contemplate the possibility that the whole conversation is staged.

“Am sorry I am late. Keith cracked ribs & we have been preoccupied. I love you very much but as a Christian we won’t be able to celebrate this occasion. Please know you have always been extra special to me & always will be. You are daily in my prayers.”

SMS message from Diane (the aunt)

In that case the only ‘news’ here is that ‘something went viral;’ without reference to the veracity or non-veracity of ‘what’ went viral.

But for argument’s sake let us accept that the story is genuine.

The screenshots displayed in the article show that the response given by SMS message from the aunt, named Diane, read:

Am sorry I am late. Keith cracked ribs & we have been preoccupied. I love you very much but as a Christian we won’t be able to celebrate this occasion. Please know you have always been extra special to me & always will be. You are daily in my prayers.

The screenshots also show a subsequent response from @DPGay which includes the words:

It’s unfortunate that you decided to act on your “Christian Values” on my wedding day and didn’t act on them when you had an abortion in Tennessee. It’s amazing how selective your Christian values decide to be.

The Independent’s article rubs its hands with glee at this response, and concludes by showing screenshots of a litany of favourable responses to @DPGay from Christians on Twitter. Clearly, posting these images online and ‘shaming’ the offending aunt was The Right Thing To Do.

Except, this is not the right thing to do. The screenshots clearly show that the aunt expressed no hostility whatsoever towards @DPGay, in fact only warmth and friendship; and that she declined the invitation simply out of personal conviction, and then in the most polite and courteous way possible.

“Why does the Independent Online think it’s acceptable for someone to call her out for this online, publicly referring to what may have been (and may still be) a very difficult and distressing moment in her life?”

Why does the Independent Online think it’s acceptable for someone to call her out for this online, publicly referring to what may have been (and may still be) a very difficult and distressing moment in her life?

Christians are often accused in the media of ‘hatred’ and ‘bigotry.’

I ask: Who in this whole sorry business appears to be full of hatred? — certainly not Diane.

The Independent’s own inconsistency here is astonishing. Instead of being condemned for doing what she probably felt was wrong, and for doing what she felt was right, perhaps this woman deserves our sympathy for having been in such a position that she felt an abortion was necessary, as well as our respect for being true to her beliefs in this situation — and for doing so in such a polite and courteous manner.

The ‘Independent’ is really a populist mouthpiece

Since in the article reference is made in a very hostile way to abortion, the article is at pains to point out,

It’s obviously worth highlighting here that there’s nothing wrong with abortion…

“The Independent Online seems to be taking an appallingly populist position for a body which, by its very nature, is supposed in some sense to be holding society to account.”

This is a very dogmatic pronouncement from a mainstream media outlet. If it were possible to ask the millions of children who never got to learn the art of speech because they committed Western Europe’s one remaining capital offence — that of being unwanted — I suspect you would get a different view on whether ‘there is nothing wrong with abortion.’[1]

The Independent Online seems to be taking an appallingly populist position for a body which, by its very nature, is supposed in some sense to be holding society to account.

Compare this with the Guardian, which recently showed itself considerably more responsible in calling out the under-reported bombing of the mainly Christian Kachin people in Myanmar.

Is ‘Christian shaming’ okay?

A couple of years ago an argument blew up on social media over the phenomenon known as ‘fat shaming.’ I think it was after a celebrity Instagram post fat-shamed somebody in a ladies’ changing room, though I can’t now recall the details.

“Society views ‘fat shaming’ as totally unacceptable. And yet, is it okay to ‘Christian shame’ somebody? — Independent Online says ‘yes, it’s perfectly fine.’”

Society views ‘fat shaming’ as totally unacceptable.

And yet, is it okay to ‘Christian shame’ somebody? — Independent Online says ‘yes, it’s perfectly fine.’

It’s perfectly fine because in today’s society, it’s the popular thing to do.

In fact, so one-sided and reactionary is now Western society’s view on same-sex marriage and LGBT rights — and becoming increasingly so by the year — that it’s surely only a matter of time before Christians in the West go to jail for such misdemeanours as declining a wedding invitation.

 

 

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[1] Since the Independent is at pains to qualify @DPGay’s reference to abortion, let me also take pains to state clearly that, in saying this, I do not thereby wish to judge or to condemn any woman who has had an abortion. I believe abortion is a tragedy; but I make no claim to be able to stand in any woman’s shoes when she has to make potentially a heart-breaking decision.

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