Hand holding a houseWith apologies to the UnderArmour crew, have you seen the recent shenanigans by America’s most vilified preacher (this month), Dr. Jeremiah Wright and the house that Barack built? Evidently, if you are a notepad-totin’ member of the media writing a story on…well… let’s just pick an off-hand story headline, “G.D. America,” and you walk in the Trinity United Church of Christ, you are mandated to keep the notepad in your bag.

I may be in the minority on this issue, but good on ya’ Rev. (for only this thing, not this and certainly not this)

I have managed media for churches across the country for years, and most of the time, media can not have “unfettered access” in a house of worship. Why? Too many things could go wrong.

For example, EVERY church in America has offerings. It’s nothing new… it’s called paying the bills. A plate of $20s being passed from parishioner to parishioner on camera – in the wrong hands – can be edited to make it look like the neighborhood church on the corner is no better than Robert Tilton.

What most in the media do not regard is this church has thousands of people worshiping in there every Sunday. They’re not looking to spare Barack Obama to death searching for an autograph. Those people aren’t there hoping to touch the hem of Wright’s garment. They are there – by and large – to hear from God.

You wouldn’t stick a microphone underneath the mouth of a grieving mother at a funeral, would ya? Well, same can be said for someone caught in the throes of praise. Both are sacred experiences, and unless it is being taped for DVD recording purposes, leave them alone. They aren’t the story… that preacher and his mouth are.

So what’s the difference between sales and the media? Expectation and interest. If I’m a member at TUCC, I know I’m being taped because of something I can grab in the bookstore later for my edification. If I see the media at TUCC, I suspect that tape is going to be used to besmirch my pastor and my church.

So, Mr. and Ms. Media, please keep the pocket-sized addition of the Bill of Rights in your briefcase, this ain’t that time. Churches want you to cover what they are doing and saying, and hope you are blessed by doing so, but many people warming a pew also have a vested interest to protect their pastor. IJS.

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