In a context of confusion and flashy journalism, rigour becomes a precious value.
A column at El Pais says evangelicals have an “obsession with homosexuality” after lending credibility to a fake Pentecostal website. The article causes hundreds of anti-evangelical comments on Facebook. Ombudswoman answers to complaint of Evangelical Alliance.
Juan Arias, the correspondent in Brazil of the Spanish newspaper El Pais wrote on Monday 5th September a column about an alleged Pentecostal Church in Chile using its Facebook page as the main source.
The journalist writes in his article "Can men who cook become gay?" about "the obsession evangelical churches have with homosexuality."
In a harsh text, Arias also attacks evangelical believers for their alleged sexism and even says that several biblical experts believe Jesus was gay.
The alleged Pentecostal page the journalist mentions in the beginning of his text turns out to be a parody website full of caustic humor. In addition to the post mentioned by Arias, the website includes other contents like: "Can God destroy me for being obese?", "How do I cook my pet?" or "Help!, my pet tries to seduce me (real testimony).”
The general ironic tone of the website makes it clear that it has nothing to do with a real evangelical church.
LACK OF JOURNALISTIC ETHICS
But religion editor and expert in Catholicism Juan Arias gives credit to the site in order to apply to all evangelical Christians the label of "medieval".
The article lacks journalistic ethics, several Spanish evangelical believers dennounced, because it does not even verify the data.
The impact of this kind of information, published in Spain's most read newspaper, damages evangelical communities. Hundreds of very strong comments against evangelical Christians appeared at El Pais Facebook page after the article was published.
SPANISH EVANGELICAL ALLIANCE ADDRESSES THE NEWSPAPER
On Monday, the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE) addressed the Reader Ombudswoman of the newspaper, clarifying several informations. Besides the flagrant error of using a false source, and a generalisation of evangelicals based on a joke, Juan Arias added several principles that are at least questionable, the AEE believes.
First, the fact of labeling evangelical ideas as “Medieval” is difficult to understand bearing in mind that the Reformation was one of the essential factors for the emergence of Modern societies in Europe.
Secondly, the article compares the alleged evangelical hatred of homosexuals with pope Francis, who is described as a model of inclusivity. But it is the Roman Catholic Church of Bergoglio that has expelled all priests who have made public confession of their homosexuality.
Third, the journalist criticises evangelical Christians for despising women, when the original feminist movement was influenced by evangelical churches of the USA. Moreover, there are female evangelical pastors all across the world.
Finally, Arias forcefully points out that there is clear evidence that Jesus could have been gay, and states that the Bible stands for the ethical approval of homosexual relations. This is not at all the point of view of the majority of Bible experts.
OMBUDSWOMAN: WE WILL UNPUBLISH THE ARTICLE
After an answer to Arias was published on Spain's evangelical website Protestante Digital, the El Pais Ombudswoman said the article would be unpublished from their website.
On Wednesday 7th September the article was still accessible on the newspaper online website.