I’m writing to you today about Rev. Michael Coren’s recent tweets about the reporter Travis Dhanraj and his response to me when I challenged him on it. I wouldn’t pursue it except that he represents Christianity and our church to the world and did, in effect, recognize his mistake without owning up to it.
Rev. Coren’s quote RT of a tweet by Dhanraj was retweeted into my timeline. I’d seen Dhanraj’s tweet the night before, watched the attached video, and read his mea culpa threaded tweet below it. I made no comment because I thought the video and Dhanraj owning up to his mistake said it all. No point in flogging the man for his initial dumb question, especially since he’d been inundated with comments similar to my thoughts.
His mea culpa showed he’d thought about the criticisms of his question, recognized his mistake, had the courage to own up to it instead of doubling down like so many do, then thought about what the question should’ve been. Perhaps Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland’s excellent answer to his “clumsily worded” question made him realize the latter.
When I read Rev. Coren’s quote RT, I was appalled. He’s a public Christian, with the authority of Reverend before his name, and has talked about judgement and judging others. Yet here he was, condemning Dhanraj as if he hadn’t owned up to his error in judgement.
Rev. Coren wrote his condemning tweet 2.5 hours after Dhanraj had owned up to his mistake, knowing full well his followers would echo his outrage and some would go over to Dhanraj’s account and pile on there. I was appalled at Rev. Coren’s quote RT because he’s a Christian with a powerful pulpit who represents Christ to the world. If he wasn’t such a person, I would’ve rolled my eyes and carried on. So at first I quote RT’d then I thought I should’ve replied instead to the people who’d RT’d his tweet into my timeline and had echoed him. I left my quote RT up when I replied.
I’m not the quickest in the morning, so it was a little while later, I saw Rev. Coren’s reply to my quote RT.
“You mean this, 15 hours later? “Verdict continues to roll in. Some love Q some hate it. My take after a few hrs: was worded clumsily as was tweet…my fault, I take responsibility…However there are legit Q’s about…”
I saw immediately the error Rev. Coren had made. He’d mistaken the time Twitter gives you for how long ago a tweet was written for the timestamp. At the time of our exchange, it had been 15 hours since Dhanraj had tweeted his reply. So I pointed that out, thinking he’d realize his mistake, do a classic face palm, and own up to it.
By the time of this screenshot, Rev. Coren had blocked me and deleted the tweet (see screenshot above).
I discovered when trying to see if he’d deleted his reply or if it was simply gone from my timeline while still existent, that he’d had an opportunity to double check if Dhanraj had owned up to his error yet had chosen not to. Being an authoritative Christian public persona and a representative of the Anglican Church of Canada, he really ought to have done his due diligence.
Dhanraj doubled down?
Where? He didn’t double down on his original question. He did state what question he should’ve asked.
As I said in my second reply to Rev. Coren, “When people own up to their mistakes, Jesus demands we give them mercy as you know.” He replied with a tweet that made him look like a put-upon teacher trying to put sense into a person that refuses to learn, which diminished me.
I then looked through his timeline to see if he had recognized his error. That’s when I found his opinion on judging people:
What kind of face is Rev. Coren, as a public Christian persona and Anglican priest, showing to the world of Jesus? On the one hand, he recognizes we all make mistakes and, as a cross-Atlantic traveller, he would’ve known Dhanraj would be working under the influence of jetlag; on the other hand, he cuts him no slack. Did Rev. Coren “feel superior about” himself when he wrote his original condemnatory tweet?
Then I think it was at this point when he read my above reply that he realized his mistake, deleted his replies to me, and blocked me. Notice he doesn’t block those who oppose him with simplistic points he can refute easily or trolling-type behaviour. So why block me?
Anyone thinking I’m pro-Russian and push nonsense about Ukraine would have to be literally delusional, and he’s not. Forgiveness and justice?? His final tweet provides the answer.
Priests have a duty to model Christ.
Rev. Coren couldn’t leave my tweets visible in his timeline nor his replies to me and get away with this, his final tweet on the subject. After reading my tweets, he knew that Dhanraj knew he “was wrong” and that he learnt from his mistake. But it doesn’t seem to me that Rev. Coren learnt from his. His original quote RT and him not seeing (or ignoring?) Dhanraj’s mea culpa until I pointed it out, reflected someone who’d reacted reflexively to Dhanraj’s words instead of watching the video and reading Dhanraj’s thread, and, as well, reflects a Christian who wants to put on a magnanimous, forgiving face instead of courageously following Christ when he calls us to repentance.
Is this the kind of priestly behaviour the Anglican Church of Canada, and the Diocese of Niagara, endorses? I hope not.
At least he recognizes it’s “unfair and wrong” to blatantly call Dhanraj an asshole.
…by turning your other cheek, you have reclaimed your dignity and communicated that you refuse to be humiliated. You have also invited your master to reclaim his true dignity by examining the lie by which he lives, that one human being is better than another.”Don’t Forgive Too Soon: Extending the two hands that heal. Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, Matthew Linn, 1996.
This letter is me turning the other cheek. Rev. Coren owes Dhanraj an apology for saying and implying the reporter hadn’t owned up to his mistake and for using his pulpit to pile on to him, knowing his followers would add to the anti-Dhanraj mob chorus. He should also unblock me, thank me* for pointing out his errors with respect to missing Dhanraj’s mea culpa and getting the time and timestamps confused, and apologize.
I will admit it’s a lot harder to fess up to misplaced righteous anger than to a bad question.
So, when I promised on Sunday to “love and serve the people among who you [Jesus] work, caring alike for young and old, strong and weak, rich and poor” and to “declare God’s forgiveness” I was taking on quite a bit.”Rev. Michael Coren, Toronto Star, 28 Sept 2021
Thank you, Bishop Bell, for listening. I appreciate it very much!
*Asking him to thank me is quite the chutzpah move on my part, I know! 😏