There are many websites out there which provide bloggers like myself with a place to write and provide their information. One of the best well-known is the website is Patheos. Patheos built its website around the philosophy of having a space to “host conversations on faith”. They different channels on various Christian paths (Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox, Mormons, and Progressive Christianity) as well as a channel for blogs on Islam and Judaism. They include a place for Hinduism, Buddhism, Spirituality, and finally Paganism for religious blogs.
In general the idea behind a platform for multiple religions and spiritual paths sounds great. For the past several years it has been a place for people to find good blogs. In the realm of Paganism one of the most important ones is the Pagan Leadership blog. It was a popular blog for event planners and teachers. Today if you go to Patheos the Pagan leadership blog is listed as an option to read. Once you click on the link the blog is not available. You get this image:
The Pagan leadership blog will not be the first blog on Patheos to be removed. I expect more pagan blogs on Patheos to be deleted and more authors blocked from accessing their accounts. This is due to the new leadership at Patheos. One author has already been blocked from their account while the blog is still open for reading.
Back in September BN media, who also own the website Beliefnet, bought Patheos. With the new ownership comes a new contract for the bloggers of Patheos. Many of the authors worry about having their content edited or removed together. This new contract supposedly allows for more direct editing and censorship of materials within the blogs.
It’s not an unreasonable fear either. The new contracts prevent the bloggers from posting disparaging comments on any related company. Some authors have spoken to the lawyers regarding the new contract and the words about disparaging comments. The contracts are apparently not clear on exactly what constitutes a related company.
Another blogger from Patheos named Pat Mosley went into further detail about how he felt there were additional issues with the support of BN media and Affinity4 through writing at Patheos. Pat Mosley writes about his concerns with writing in support of LGBTQ when the company you write for may not support the LQBTQ community as much.
“Writing in support of Queer people is pointless if the site that publishes you is funding* the fight against our lives at the same time. While I appreciate the efforts to renegotiate the contract, I cannot in good conscience continue to allow my work to be associated with Patheos. I am grateful for the editorial and reader support I have earned through my work there, however, this is the necessary end to that chapter of my life as a writer.
I hope that other writers of conscience will join me in refusing to create content that produces profit for the men who also direct a major source of funds for right-wing politics. I hope Patheos readers will join me in a general boycott of the website, and in encouraging their favorite bloggers to migrate somewhere with better ethics.”Pat Mosley What happened at Patheos
Suffice to say for the pagan bloggers at Patheos there is substantial confusion about who they can and can’t talk about as well as if there will be higher editorial control over nonpolitical content. There are several authors who are leaving Patheos because of the new contract and some are staying where they are.
Jason Mankey (one of the bloggers at Patheos) wrote an extensive post on his position related to the new contracts and the confusion. This quote comes from his blog that covers his stance on continuing to work at Patheos and his thoughts on the ability to write disparaging remarks.
“A few of the provisions in that contract have been taken radically out of context (at best). The most contentious provision is the one that’s being the most distorted. It asks writers not to write despairingly about Patheos or its “affiliate partners.” In this case the affiliate partner is Beliefnet, and nobody else. Such provisions are common amongst online entities. The Huffington Post is not going to host an article that says negative and untrue things about the Huffington Post, and not surprisingly, either is Patheos. Patheos Pagan Update
After reading that blog by Jason Mankey I asked him a few specific questions about the contract situation and if he had any concerns going forward. Here is the interview
Loona Wynd: Do you believe there is any validity to the “outrage” some of the articles related to the new contracts (John Halstead’s. Pat Mosley’s and Peter Dybing being the three that I have read) ? If so what do you see as the actual problem?Jason Mankey: I think much of it’s overstated (at best). When dealing with a business it’s always best to be cautious, but many of the outrages simply aren’t true. I also don’t think Peter’s article was all that incendiary.
Loona Wynd: Do you have any fears or concerns going forward with Patheos?
Jason Mankey: No, and Beliefnet stepped up when there were concerns with the contract. They revised the contract, specifically addressing many of the concerns the writers had.
Loona Wynd: Do you have any words of comfort for readers of the various Pagan Blogs on Patheos?
Jason Mankey: Some blogs are leaving, many more are staying. This is an adjustment period but Patheos Pagan will survive. And just like before, our writers are free to write about whatever they want. The contract just asked them not to write disparagingly about Patheos or Beliefnet. That’s pretty standard for contracts. I don’t think you can write an article at the Huffington Post and say “Huffington Post is the worst thing ever” and have it stay on that site. Much of Patheos is overwhelmingly liberal when it comes to content, that’s not going to change.
Loona Wynd: Any idea why the Pagan Leadership blog is no longer available to the public?
Jason Mankey: I don’t think it ever was available to the public. It was an experiment with a paid blog from many years ago.
Loona Wynd: will you be signing the new contract and continuing to write for Patheos?
Patheos Pagan writers are open to write about political topics and anything else. They always have been and always will be. We’ve never done much editing at Patheos, and certainly not of content, and certainly without the author’s knowledge. Usually editing is about fixing a typo or perhaps removing a picture that breaks a copyright. If we were going in and radically altering people’s content everyone would hear about it! It’s hard to keep information away from people. In the last four months one post has been deleted from the site, and that was because it contained many untrue allegations.