When I was out in Illinois covering Obama’s big presidential announcement in Springfield, our CBN crew went to Chicago and asked to shoot video inside the Church. A week before, I had put in multiple requests but I received no response. So on Sunday we walked into the Church and asked if we could film. After waiting about 15 minutes or so, they agreed and we started to videotape. After 20 minutes or so of videotaping, the Church said they meant still photography not video. There seemed to be a little miscommunication here. We immediately stopped filming. We ended up using still shots from the video that we had in our possession. I desperately tried to convince them to let us use the video but they said no.
During my time inside their service, it seemed pretty normal to me. The worship was very charismatic, the music was up-tempo and the people seemed like they were really into it. I didn’t hear the preacher speak, so clearly that is extremely important. I can’t speak to that. But the people we dealt with were extremely nice. Still, you get the sense that they are guarded about this. They know the media is ready to start digging so they are being very careful. This is something Senator Obama will need to address. There are some Evangelicals who are willing to listen to him, they are curious as to what he’s about. The Church he attends figures into the equation.
On the one hand, you can sympathize with the church – because one member of the flock decides to run for president, the whole country is going to want to sit in on their services and pass judgment, a position few of us would envy. On the other hand… you’re a church. How secretive should your services be?
UPDATE: Hillary Spot reader Dale points out:
How secretive should a church be? If a church is at all evangelical, or Catholic, or even vaguely really religious, it should be very careful of any cameras or media intrusion. Especially when a member is in the crosshairs. Even with CBN, who are sympathetic, captured video is a dangerous thing. The most normal thing in the world can become nutso with the right editor and text.In addition, when the intrusion is premised on the conduct of a single member, the church has an obligation to that member’s privacy. Letting in any media group, hoping for fair play and ignoring the potential for smear from any corner, would be naive.Imagine a report in the NY Times about the wayback conservative practice in a southern capital city of a church where they have a “children’s sermon” and the pastor routinely invites parishioners to altar for a rededication at the end of the service…. give it to the Times and you might get child abuse, indoctrination, and cult behavior. With a little dose of ridicule for the choir and ushers thrown in.
I hear what Dale is saying, and obviously any church is entitled to say, “I’m sorry, we’re not interested in having our services covered by the media.” It’s a sad state of affairs that there’s such (earned) distrust and suspicion of letting a camera in to a worship service. On the other hand, since just about every church is open to the public, anyone who wants to attend can see how the services go themselves…Maybe this is all a secret cunning plan to increase church attendance. Show up, just to see what they won’t allow to be videotaped!