Fox News Lied About my Church

Quick post today.  I need my conservative/moderate/centrist friends to understand this.

(Disclaimer: I offer no partisan bias.  I am a passionate, party-less independent.)

I attend an Episcopal church here in Dallas, which has been my happy church home for  a few years now.

This week, St. John’s Episcopal church in D.C. suffered a basement fire during protests.  So that we avoid any news bias, here’s the official word directly from the church itself.  That link was posted by the church’s official Twitter account.

Dear Parishioners,
We are writing from the Parish House where we’ve been able to fully assess the damage from last night’s protests.
As we know many of you have already heard, there was a small fire in the parish house basement. Thankfully, it appears to have been contained to the nursery—though, as you might imagine there is smoke and water damage to other areas of the basement.
We’re very happy to report that the rest of the church and parish house is untouched except for some exterior graffiti, which the city’s graffiti team has already covered up.
Fire investigators are still working, but once they are done, we have a crew standing by to secure the buildings.
Please know how grateful we are for the support and messages we’ve received in the
past days. Please continue to pray for our community and our country.
In peace,
Rev. Rob Fisher, Rector
Paul Barkett, Senior Warden
Jeff Hanston, Junior Warden

Here’s another official post from the church on the matter:

The protests that began peacefully grew to something more, and eventually a fire was lit in the nursery, in the basement of Ashburton House.

Like many of you perhaps, I had little access to information about how bad the fire was while it was happening. It felt horrible to see glimpses of smoke rising by the stairs to our entrance on national TV, and then to have it confirmed with an up-close video showing the flames in the basement.

Fortunately, it was in fact completely extinguished. I just assessed the damage as best I could, in the semi-dark and with a flashing, bleating alarm system that I could not figure out how to shut off. My ears are still ringing, and I am still coughing a bit from various fumes I inhaled. But I am happy to share with you that I could see no other real damage besides that one room, and quite a bit of graffiti and debris around the exterior of the church. Protestors easily could have done a lot worse to our buildings, but they chose not to do that. (The damage I saw to other nearby buildings illustrated this point.)

None of this changes our purpose to be an instrument for God’s work through all of this, and in fact now more than ever. I pray for our collective wisdom, grace, courage and compassion as we move forward into what God is calling us to do and be next.

You see acknowledgement that, yes, this was a result of protests, but nonetheless protests the church supports, and look — the damage was mitigated and minimal.  The church has no ill word to offer protestors in the wake of this.  Fair?  If you suspect I’m being biased, look over the church’s statements on  your own.  Don’t take my word for it.

Now look how Fox News twisted this event to fit their partisan narrative:

As authorities clashed with demonstrators for the third straight night, the parish house connected to the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church across the street from the White House was set on fire late Sunday. The parish house contains offices and parlors for gatherings. The basement, which was also torched, is used for childcare during church services, and had recently undergone renovations.

What was a minor fire quickly put out is now phrased as the church being “torched”.  Interesting word choice.  But hey, maybe I’m being picky — fair enough.

But wait — Fox News included a link in that statement above.  Click the “set on fire late Sunday” part.  It leads to this post on  Twitter:

Antifa is burning down the historic St. John’s Church by the White House. It’s completely up in flames.

Fox News officially linked to a Twitter post explicitly blaming Antifa for burning down the church.  Well.  That description escalated quickly.  Wait…Antifa did it?  We Episcopals said nothing about Antifa.  Why did Fox News add that (in addition to staying the church burned down, which — um….You guys realize it’s still there and just fine, decidedly not burned down)?

Let’s see where this goes next.  From the same article:

Separately on Sunday, Twitter suspended the account of Antifa, the left-wing group that Trump branded a terrorist organization earlier in the day. The suspension came after Antifa urged members to go into “white hoods” and “take what’s ours.”

Click the link on the word “suspended“.  The post states:

As of right now @twitter is suspended @antifa_us.
Thing is, “antifa_us” was a fake account…created by white supremacists, specifically the group Identity Evropa.
Fox News lied — not only lied, but lied in an unapologetically hateful manner.
Look, I don’t endorse Antifa.  As I stated in my previous post, I advocate nonviolence.  But this wasn’t Antifa.
I want you to understand how real and — in my case — how personal this is.  The Episcopal church itself spoke out against this twisting of the narrative:
This evening, the President of the United States stood in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, lifted up a bible, and had pictures of himself taken. In so doing, he used a church building and the Holy Bible for partisan political purposes. This was done in a time of deep hurt and pain in our country, and his action did nothing to help us or to heal us.
Fox News used what happened to the church I belong to to create a false narrative — “fake news”, to borrow a popular term.  This narrative ironically and tragically goes directly against what the very mission this church is all about.  This is overt, purposeful deception for the purpose of propaganda.
Friends, it brings me no joy to share this stuff.  I was once a hard-right conservative, Republican, and a huge Fox News fan.  The process of learning the truth was painful and I grieve to this day.  I was fooled for years.  We have been fooled.  We have been played for fools.
(Apologies for the bad spacing/formatting on this one — WordPress is being weird with how it’s handling line breaks and <br> tags at the moment.  I haven’t quite figured out how to sort that.)

One comment

  1. We’ve all been fooled brother. Learning isn’t an easy or painless process and there is a lot more coming in the future as more people and our government shows us their true colors.

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