An Episcopal priest confronts the ‘blasphemy challenge’

I blogged this morning about the “blasphemy challenge” on You Tube. Basically, more than 1,000 people have filmed themselves saying “I deny the Holy Spirit” and put it on You Tube.

A reader just alerted me to a recent You Tube post on the blasphemy challenge from the Rev. Matthew Moretz, a young Episcopal priest at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Yonkers who does a regular video blog on You Tube called “Father Matthew Presents.”

tjndc5-5db3a4e0f54ryoj3gg1_thumbnail.jpgYou can hear Father Matthew’s thoughts on the blasphemy challenge “here.”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FznbwmCmTOQ

I just watched it. I think it’s safe to say that Moretz has a more charitable view toward atheists and their video blasphemy than would many others. He starts out by saying:

“I’m glad to see a taboo broken. People should feel free to speak out of their convictions.”

Then he empathizes with those who have taken up the challenge:

“Part of what I think is going on is that there is an understandable allergic reaction to people of my ilk who have used manipulative tactics to spread their faith.”

Moretz mentions several “threats” and “thinly veiled threats” that he says are often used to get people to think like Christians. He doesn’t like them — and apologizes to those who have been hurt.

“It sounds like many of you have been pushed to your limit. For that I am truly sorry.

Moretz is, of course, going for a different, foreign audience — an unchurched audience — with his You Tube blogs. He’s willing to meet You Tube watchers where they live.

He acknowledges that the blasphemy videos “sting,” and adds:

“I wish I could share with you the Holy Spirit that I know, the love of God that animates all creation.”

He closes this way:

“As atheism gains a voice on You Tube, I hope it’s a sign that the era of manipulative evangelism and that the repression of atheists, that that era is over — and that a new, more charitable era can begin.”

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.