“…about that timely tornado that hit Minneapolis during the
much-publicized convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America. You may recall that oceans of ink were spilled about that
gathering because of the vote to ordain as clergy gays, lesbians and
bisexuals who are living in lifelong, faithful, monogamous same-sex
[Colulmnist Marvin] Olasky notes that:
No severe weather warnings were in place, and no tornado had come
into downtown Minneapolis for a long time — at least 90 years,
according to one archivist. Nevertheless, as delegates met, a tornado
damaged the roof of the Minneapolis convention center where they were
meeting and knocked the cross off the host church next door.
Doing a quick media survey, Olasky notes that there were three
journalistic options in writing about the tornado and the vote in the
ELCA gathering. Please note that these are journalistic options within,
let’s say, liberal and conservative approaches to “European” journalism
and the more neutral “American” model.
So what are the three options?
Right: It is acceptable to say that God sent the storm to express
displeasure with the ELCA gathering and its unorthodox actions.
Center: In order to stay neutral, journalists should have reported
what people on the scene said, on their own or in response to questions
about the tornado. You then needed to print both sides so readers could
make up their own minds.
Left: Since it’s clear that God does not act in such a manner (if in
fact there is a God who can act in creation), and since it’s clear that
the ELCA’s vote was a good thing, journalists should ignore the tornado
— going so far as to ignore what was said about the storm during the
Message: Keep news reporting in perspective.
“Meanwhile, the New York Times failed to even mention the tornado in
its two stories on the ELCA vote. Did Olasky miss a reference in a
Of course, Olasky is on the opposite side of the advocacy aisle. But even his theological viewpoint is nuanced.
… God controls the winds, so any tornado is a warning to all of us
that we do not control even the next hour of our lives. We need to be
careful about citing tornado hits or misses as proof of God’s specific
disfavor or favor: Episcopalian prelates who approve sin should not
rest easy because their conclaves have not caved in. In WORLD we avoid
stating as fact that which cannot be proven from the Bible or from
careful observation, but we do not follow the Times in ignoring
So, on the tornedo issue, GetReligion aptly asks….”Got spin?”