Thursday, April 14, 2005

Where's the mercy?

I wouldn't have fired this guy. In general I think it's a nasty affliction in our culture that some stupid mistake that is an aberration in a career rather than a pattern gets enough publicity and you're canned. It's not very illustrative of mercy or grace, something I would expect from a Christian radio station.

An evangelical Christian talk show host who questioned the beliefs of the Catholic church and entertained a caller's question about whether the late Pope John Paul II would go to heaven has been fired.

Marty Minto, 39, a senior pastor at a New Castle church, was fired Friday after three years as a host on WORD-FM in Pittsburgh. He said he was told that he was alienating listeners. "As far as I'm concerned, I was doing what I've always done on the radio -- look at events around the world from a biblical perspective. I've always been willing to talk about controversial subjects," said Minto, who has had shows in Albany, N.Y., Denver and Phoenix.

Last week, Minto questioned some of the Catholic church's beliefs, such as purgatory, and fielded a question from a caller who asked whether the pope would go to heaven. Many evangelical Christians believe that someone must be a "born-again" believer to enter heaven. Minto, who is also senior pastor of the 100-member Turning Point Community Church, said he told the caller that whether someone was born-again was personal and "between an individual and the Creator." Chuck Gratner, general manager of WORD-FM, didn't dispute Minto's description and said he was let go because of differences in how he conducted his show. "WORD-FM needs to function in this city in support of the entire church -- that means everybody -- and not focus on denominational issues," Gratner said.
Whatever. This incident breeded a controversy and conflict which caused people to tune in and that energy should have been harnassed to respectfully discuss sin, redemption, judgment, grace, mortality, and Christ.

Rev. Minto could have been spurred on to publicly apologize for his poor wording and then, as penance, to co-host a special edition of his program with a Catholic where the two could discuss evangelical Protestant and Catholic theology where the two are not so divided: on the essentials of the faith and can cooperate in reaching the world's spiritual, educational, and material needs.

That's how I would have handled it as general manager. It's a shame that Gratner didn't see it the same way.