Analysis of the Disappointing Chicago Tribune Article About Harvest Bible Chapel

The Chicago Tribune published a story about Harvest Bible Chapel. This writer is deeply disappointed by what he read. The Tribune failed to mention and cover a lot of areas in the Harvest scandal. But above all why can’t the Tribune or other media state that the Mancow recordings deal with allegations of planting child pornography?

“A good newspaper is a nation talking to itself.”

Arthur Miller

“Every time a newspaper dies, even a bad one, the country moves a little closer to authoritarianism…

Richard Kluger

In righteousness you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;and from terror, for it shall not come near you.

Isaiah 54:14

On March 29, 2019 the Chicago Tribune published an article about Harvest Bible Chapel. Written by Patrick M O’Connell and Morgan Greene it tried to summarize the events that have unfolded in James MacDonald’s church. You can read the original article here but before I continue let me explain myself. I enjoy reading the print media even if its digital. Currently I subscribe to the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post. I have long had a deep amount of respect for the Chicago Tribune, afterall it has a long history in Chicago. But honestly I have to say that this Tribune article is a major let down. Below is a break down of all the issues that I think the article missed or failed to report accurately. So let’s get started on this article. 

  1. It amazes me that in this article it fails to give the history of James MacDonald. It doesn’t go into the extravagant living or his home in Inverness. The Tribune could have easily read The Elephant’s Debt and yet it appears as if they didn’t do that at all. There was really no mention of the lavish living and abuse of money. Financial scandal is one of the oldest scandals in evangelicalism. All I have to do is point to Jim Bakker and PTL. Does the Chicago Tribune get this? 
  2. Why did the Tribune not mention names? It refers to Julie Roys as a “Christian journalist” and said that the church sued a blogger. Why not give Ryan Mahoney and Scott Bryant credit and say Harvest went after The Elephant’s Debt? 
  3. This article makes no mention of the issues at Harvest Naples. That is important in the greater Harvest scandal. Why was that left out? 
  4. The Tribune made no mention of the sexual harassment allegations against James MacDonald. The story of Anne Green was not even touched upon. Doesn’t the Tribune understand the issue of sexual harassment and a celebrity pastor? They did a good job discussing the issues with Bill Hybells and Willow Creek. How could they drop this issue? This weekend I was reading about allegations about Joe Biden and other individuals. Why can’t the Chicago Tribune report on the Anne Green story? 
  5. Did I miss something? This article makes no mention of the Paxton Singer story. Why did the Chicago Tribune let that go, several months back they wrote about it. Does the Tribune only think that abuse happens in the Roman Catholic church? 
  6. The Tribune missed the issues with Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). If the Tribune did their homework they would understand the issues with ECFA and Mars Hill in Seattle. 
  7. In regards to the Mancow audio recordings why can’t the Chicago Tribune say that the allegation dealt with planting child pornography? Pardon my French but disparaging one’s critics is a BS way of saying that child pornography would be planted on the CEO of Christianity Today’s computer. We’re talking about a federal crime that is deeply serious. This angers me because people and news sources keep talking about this in a toned down way and they down play a serious development. This is an epic fail by Patrick M O’Connell and Morgan Greene.

I read this article in the Chicago Tribune and I was deeply disappointed. How can a blogger based in the Washington, D.C. area drill down into an organization and develop sources and write about this topic? And yet the Tribune is going to miss this story and what is happening in their back yard? The religion section of The Washington Post does a good job, and the Tribune did a good job with Willow Creek. But they have totally dropped the ball on James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel. Harvest is the Mars Hill of Chicago and this newspaper failed to cover it. As a guy who reads newspaper daily this article really was a let down. 

6 thoughts on “Analysis of the Disappointing Chicago Tribune Article About Harvest Bible Chapel

  1. I found the article bizarre!! Makes me wonder why they wrote it at all?? I’m pretty sure the religious journalist for Chicago tribune quit not to long ago, maybe these two are new to the scene and know nothing about Harvest’s history? It literally sounds like they talked to harvest pr firm to write this article and again why did they even write it at all? I’m with you though, a very disappointing article and like I said I wonder what their motivation was to even write it.

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    • Steve Jim Bakker is still alive and selling rapture survival kits. I was thinking of the late PTL but then your comment made me realize that some might think he passed away. Nope he is still very much alive and scamming people. Thanks for the comment.

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      • Steve, Jim Bakker is still alive and selling rapture survival kits.

        i.e. HIGH-priced buckets of dried beans & rice for when “You Cannot Buy Or Sell Except You Take The Mark”.

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  2. Is anyone in power (i.e. in a position able to influence/kill a story) at the Chicago Tribune a member of HBC?

    If so, there’s your explanation right there.
    It’s Chicago.
    Somebody greased the right palms like for Jesse Smollet.

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