Politico Magazine published a story about evangelical figure Jen Hatmaker. The title and sub say the following:
This Evangelical Leader Denounced Trump. Then the Death Threats Started.
Jen Hatmaker is one of the most popular religious figures in America—and she is paying a steep price for speaking out for what she believes.
Nobody deserves death threats for their views. The problem with Politico’s piece is it relies heavily on the headline to tell the story. As we’ve shown, publications craft headlines for people to form an opinion based on the headline alone.
Here’s how the story starts:
Last fall, Jen Hatmaker, a popular evangelical author and speaker, started getting death threats. Readers mailed back her books to her home address, but not before some burned the pages or tore them into shreds. LifeWay Christian Stores, the behemoth retailer of the Southern Baptist Convention, pulled her titles off the shelves. Hatmaker was devastated. Up until that point, she had been a wildly influential and welcome presence in the evangelical world, a Christian author whose writings made the New York Times best-seller list and whose home renovation got its own HGTV series. But then 2016 happened, and, well, of course everything changed.
Note what it says about her book getting yanked from Lifeway. The implication here is it has something to do with Donald Trump. But it didn’t. Lifeway pulled her books from their stores when Hatmaker affirmed same-sex relationships and marriage. Whatever one thinks about the issue personally is one thing. But The Southern Baptist Convention has well-known views and positions on same-sex relationships.
The piece goes on to mostly separate itself from the headline:
Hatmaker, meanwhile, has not backed down. In May, she posted an Instagram photo of herself wearing a black tank top with the words, “I ain’t sorry.” She has kept talking to her followers, many of them white and generally conservative Christian women, about supporting gun control, Black Lives Matter and refugees. At a time when the white evangelical share of the American electorate is on the decline, Hatmaker is out with a best-selling book, a top-rated podcast and a speaking tour that’s selling out.
Whether that influence stands a chance at countering the white evangelical alliance with Trump, or translates to political activism at all, remains to be seen. Hatmaker’s name is not well known in Washington circles. Women like her do not crown primary picks in Iowa or direct money to super PACs.
Aligning herself with liberal policy positions and groups will undoubtedly find detractors among politically conservative people within the evangelical community. The piece says too that Hatmaker is not known all that much within political circles.
It’s likely the author of the piece, Tiffany Stanley, did not write the headline. However, her article sloppily attempts to link Hatmaker and Trump when she concedes she’s not part of the anti-Trump movement. “I don’t know if I fit neatly into that space,” she says in the article.
Hatmaker isn’t the first evangelical Christian to make a lurch to the left, politically and she won’t be the last. Those stories are familiar and don’t merit much coverage. But I guess if you can link it to Donald Trump, it becomes worthy of significant coverage.
Even if it means misleading readers.