Why was I Cancelled and Repented for by Premier Christianity?
I am going to tell you a story which is somewhat unbelievable – one which I am kind of reeling from. One which for me personally has significant implications, and I think (without I hope being too grandiose) has implications for the wider evangelical church in the UK.
On Monday evening, Sam Hailes, the editor of Premier Christianity magazine, wrote and asked the following: “Hi David do you fancy writing a blog on ‘The Christian case for NOT watching the Meghan and Harry interview’?”. My initial reaction was no, because I was going to bed and he obviously needed it before the interview; besides which I was writing an article on the actual interview for Christian Today. However, because I like Sam, because I have written for Premier before and because the subject was on my mind – I got up early and dashed off a piece at 6 in the morning.
You can read my original article below. Sam thanked me and published it with, as I recall only one minor edit (the remark about the gender of their baby was too much!). Then of course the Twitter and social media abuse began. To question Meghan Markle means that you are a racist on a par with Hitler and an uncompassionate scumbag who does not care about mental health. So far, so Twitter. I was a bit surprised last night when Sam informed me that he had withdrawn the phrase ‘played the race card’ and issued an apology on the article. When I asked him why he just simply stated that it was ‘against their standards’. Again, echoing Big Tech when they censor people they disagree with. I wanted to know what standard was being broken. Is it verboten to question? Does not one ever play the race card?
It got worse. This morning I was horrified to wake up to a curt note from Sam saying that the whole post had been taken down. And then this apology appeared in its place on the Premier website.
Yesterday evening, shortly before the Harry and Meghan interview aired, we published a blog on this page, entitled ‘5 reasons you shouldn’t watch the Meghan and Harry interview’.
We have now removed this article and would like to unreservedly apologise for it, for the offence and hurt it has caused, and the damage it has done to the witness of Christians. We were wrong to publish it.
Although we initially only apologised for one phrase within the piece, we now understand the problems with the blog were far wider than one phrase. It was not a helpful piece of commentary, but instead has resulted in understandable anger and pain, especially for those who have experienced racism.
My own personal view on the Harry and Meghan interview can be read here: “7 lessons Christians can learn from Meghan and Harry’s interview“. While I know this cannot repair the damage already done, my hope is this new article will prove to be a much more helpful contribution to these issues than what was published before.
Last year I wrote an editorial entitled ‘Why we’re saying black lives matter‘, which included the words, “I’ve made some decisions. No more defensiveness. No more excuses. No more deflecting.” I regret that I have not lived up to these words in the past 24 hours and ask forgiveness for all those who have been hurt by our actions as a magazine.
Premier Christianity magazine
I was shocked by this. It’s spineless pandering to the mob and cultural zeitgeist displays both a lack of insight and a lack of courage. To add insult to injury Sam then tweeted with my name linked his apology and repentance for my article. The message was clear. I am cancelled.
In today’s world I can hardly imagine a more damaging slur and accusation.
What Sam did not say in his apology was that he was the one who asked me to write the piece (I did not offer it) and he was the one who 24 hours before was quite happy to publish it and saw nothing wrong with it. Now he writes an apology which absolutely trashes me as a racist and someone who does damage to the witness of Christians. (I note in passing the people who will immediately say ‘no he didn’t do that, he just removed a post that was racist, etc’…. but that’s pedantic – it is in effect the same thing – I wrote the post!). In today’s world I can hardly imagine a more damaging slur and accusation. Here is the thing. It will stick. The level of personal abuse that I have received in public and private since then, including from so called Christian leaders, has been horrendous. The gloating and self-congratulation ‘great we got it taken down’ from the mob is perverse in its schadenfreude,
I could write a great deal about the level of personal hurt, abuse, mental anguish and racism that I have experienced over many years – but who would be interested? My mental health is irrelevant – at least to those who claim to be upset about the Duchess. Besides which I think it is wrong and indeed wicked to play the identarian politics victim game, in order to attack others. All I will say is that even as I sit and write this, I feel physically sick at the level of abuse I am receiving – even more so when I see Sam staying silent about how this came about and in effect encouraging it.
I am still trying to understand why this happened? I would expect a decent editor to say, ‘I don’t agree necessarily with everything David says, but it is an opinion piece which I asked him to write, he is not a racist and he is not attacking those who face mental health issues. But why turn around within 24 hours and state that a piece you were happy to publish is now one that calls people to repentance? Sam went on to publish his own puff piece to show how it should be done – a safe, sweet piece which shows how compassionate he is, how anti-racist and how kind – in contrast with the heartless scumbag who wrote the original article. Meanwhile yours truly has been thrown to the wolves.
Did Sam have a Damascene moment? A revelation from the Lord, revealing my sin? I doubt it. Nor was it the case that he published the article without reading it. He sent me a message at 8pm saying he was happy with it and was publishing it. So what caused the change of mind? I suspect it was just simply the mob. The article may not be that well written and could have been expressed better but there was no racism or lack of sympathy for the mentally ill within it. Unless you read it through the Woke glasses that say if you dare to question anyone who claims to have been a victim of racism then you are a racist. I touched two of the shibboleths of today’s Millennials – racism (or white liberal guilt about racism) and feelings (or the right kind of feelings).
Where is the UK Church?
Apart from the personal impact on me – (I feel about as welcome in the UK church as Hilary at a Trump rally!) there is a wider issue. Premier Christianity is one of the UK’s leading evangelical magazines. Premier is quite happy to promote the likes of Steve Chalke and Brian McLaren – despite their attacks on Scripture and on Christ. But I get cancelled. The message is clear. You can blaspheme Christ on Premier, but dare blaspheme Meghan Markle and you are toast!
The UK church is threatened with liberalism and legalism – but one greater danger (because it seems nicer and more biblical) is the kind of soft evangelicalism that Premier has now come to represent. It’s a building without foundations.
Ironically, I recently received an e-mail from Premier encouraging me to fund their ‘essential Gospel work’. It will be a cold day in Sydney before I do that! Why should I fund something which promotes heresy and cancels someone who is seeking to be a faithful biblical Christian (however imperfectly)? I speak only for myself- what others do is up to them. Nor will I write for them again. I have no desire to be associated with an organisation which treats its writers in such a brutal manner, or gives unto the Woke mob so easily.
What did I think I was doing?
You can now read the article below and judge for yourselves. From my perspective I was writing in defence of the poor, against media manipulation, against people treating one another like dirt and the charade of using family squabbles to make entertainment and money. I was critiquing celebrity pornography and suggesting that it is not good for us to buy into the celebrity circus. None of that was heard from those who are tone deaf to those issues which don’t fit on their agenda, but hyper-sensitive to what the current woke zeitgeist says is all important. I said nothing that was remotely racist or against mental health – both of which I care passionately about. Of course you can see that if you want to – but then you have to ask yourself the question – why do you want to? The editor didn’t see it – until others ‘opened’ his eyes and he came on bended knee to beg forgiveness.
When I wrote the paragraphs on predictions, I was not claiming to be a prophet – I was just putting together the various trails that Oprah had been releasing as teasers. I made no comment about these issues. I just simply predicted (accurately) what Meghan would say. (I did comment on the gender and on forgiveness – re Harry’s Nazi uniform). But it doesn’t matter what I said. It’s what I didn’t say that sends me to the Woke stake. I did not say that Meghan has been a victim of racism (I don’t know – and neither does Sam or any of the critics) – personally I am sure that she has in terms of social media, but there is no evidence of it from the Royal Family. But that is not the issue. In todays’ world you have to show due deference, commitment to the cause, and unquestioning acceptance of the world’s ideology. Or you are cancelled. By a Christian magazine…let that sink in….
The Banned Article
Will you/did you Watch THE Interview?
(Sam re-entitled this five reasons for not watching)
Will you be watching THE interview tonight? (Or if you are in the US or reading this later – did you watch it?). Me? I haven’t seen it and I won’t be sitting down in a few hours to do so. I’d rather watch paint dry or go to the dentist than wallow in the shallow celebrity obsessed, narcissistic gossip that passes for entertainment in today’s celebrity culture. I can think of one good reason for watching and several not to. Let’s begin with the latter.
Media Manipulation – We have all been played. If you feel that your life will be missing something if you don’t watch it then you have been caught in the web that the mistress of spin – Oprah – has spun. Through a series of neatly dripped press releases the media hype has been worked up into hysteria. This is particularly true in the US – but also applies in some of the rest of the world – it was for example the first headline on the news here in Australia – even before it was aired. If you buy into the hype – or even want to see what all the fuss is about, then you are aiding and abetting the manipulation and the farcical charade that masquerades as some kind of important ‘documentary’ or news.
Money – The main reasons for the interview, alongside fame, revenge and online therapy, is of course money. Oprah the multi-millionaire interviews another couple of millionaires about how poor and victimised they are – and how some other millionaires have treated them badly. I don’t object to people having money – but I do object to the privileged and elite using the media, and their own image, to make more money out of the rest of us. When people are dying of poverty watching a mega wealthy couple complain about their victimhood, is more than my stomach can bear.
Manners – The anti-slavery campaigner, William Wilberforce, had another great and lesser-known campaign – ‘the reformation of manners. By that he meant how we treat other people. It is no exaggeration to say that Wilberforce changed British society for the better. Now our woke generation is changing all of that. We are regressing to a society where people treat one another like dirt. They gossip, blame, abuse and dish the dirt. Whether this is done for money, revenge or just online therapy is irrelevant. Why would I want to watch a privileged elite couple gossip about their family? It’s just in bad taste.
Morality – By morality I mean the basic moral truths – love, justice, truth. None of that will be served by a self-serving, carefully stage-managed publicity stunt. So why should I be part of the crowd and join in? Did Christians go to the Colosseum just to see what the fuss was all about and what really happened to the gladiators? When two people started fighting at school it always drew a crowd. I suspect if that were not the case there would have been a lot less fighting. This is a form of celebrity pornography. Why should I join in the voyeurism?
Meaning –Even if you are naïve enough to believe that this has nothing to do with money and exploiting fame and privilege, what is the point of this interview? TV therapy? Why proclaim that you just want to be left alone and kept out of the press eye –and then hold a ‘tell all’ very public media circus?
There is one reason for watching it – and it’s the reason I will probably do so later. It’s the same reason I read the Ravi Zacharias report or Mein Kampf. Not for personal pleasure but rather because as a social commentator, it is a moral obligation to read and try to understand the people and cultures I am talking about. Harry and Meghan are important – not because they have anything to do with Royalty (apart from the Queen I have little interest in that), but because they are rapidly becoming the ultimate celebrity woke couple in the US – and much of the rest of the world.
I suspect that I don’t actually need to watch the whole celebrity circus – after all a combination of press release ‘teasers from Oprah and a knowledge of the culture means any intelligent observer of the scene could write the script. Meghan will play the race card, tell us how hard done by she is and how she contemplates suicide. She will offer some salacious piece of gossip that some member of the royal family is supposed to have said. They will tell us their baby is a girl (they are not yet sufficiently or consistently woke enough to realise that gender is assigned at birth!). Harry will come in as the dutiful husband and let us all know that his Nazi uniform wearing days are all over and that he has more than made atonement for his privileged past. I find it fascinating that by today’s standards any celebrity caught dressing up as a Nazi at a party (even years ago) would be cancelled immediately. They would not dare even mention racism, never mind claim to be the victim of it! It appears that there is atonement and forgiveness in our society after all – at least for those who bow the knee to the current ideologies of our elites. Or maybe we are just inconsistent?
Of course, I could be wrong. It could be that Meghan and Harry will confess their privilege, admit their wrong, seek reconciliation, announce their retirement from public life so that they can focus on bringing up their family away from the glare of publicity; and donate some of their not inconsiderable money to the poor. When people tell me the Bible is rubbish I usually ask, ‘have you read it?’ For the same reason as I will write about the interview – so I am obliged to watch it. It’s the only reason. But for those of you who don’t have to, I would suggest that, in the title of the old children’s TV programme – ‘why don’t you switch off your TV and go and do something less boring instead’?! Or in the old word, more edifying.