Dear Patheos: What Expectations Did You Have?

In January 2017, evangelical bloggers at Patheos received an email from Patheos Evangelical Channel manager Barton Gingerich about changes coming to the site. BN Media had just purchased Patheos and planned to make changes to the writer’s agreement.

One change was the level of participation expected from bloggers. Tier 1 bloggers would be expected to write three times a week; tier 2 bloggers only had to post twice. Tier 1 bloggers would be paid slightly more.  In my email, Gingerich added this personal note to me:

Warren, due to your incredible frequency and important posts, you are a Tier 1 blogger.

In January 2017, my posts were “important.” By mid-2018, they didn’t fit the “strategic objectives” of the organization and my blog was completely removed from the site with only a day’s warning. In my view, my style or content had not changed during that time period. Since Patheos has not informed me, I don’t know what they think changed.

I feel this is important for me to say since Patheos Director of Content Phil Fox Rose sent an email to some bloggers yesterday implying that I knew their expectations “many months ago.” This email was sent to me by several Patheos bloggers:

As some of you know, Patheos decided to end its partnership with Warren Throckmorton. This was done after long and thoughtful consideration. The decision was not made based on a triggering event or post, and Mr. Throckmorton was advised of our expectations many months ago. This is not reflective of some change in policy. It was a specific case. This decision should not give any blogger reason to think their status is in question. We’re sorry the lack of details allows for speculation, but our commitment remains as always to be the place where conversation about faith is happening in the most robust and dynamic way. Nothing will change that. If you would like to discuss this further, please reach out to Ben, and I’m happy to talk too.

What were the expectations and how did I fail to meet them? Since I was not aware of any expectation relating to my blog (beyond the same agreement all other bloggers sign), I don’t know what Mr. Rose is talking about.

I suspect that current bloggers would like to know what the “expectations” are.

This isn’t a good way to treat people. I don’t need every detail about why they now don’t like my “important posts,” but I would like a rational explanation of the key factors that went into their business decision.

45 thoughts on “Dear Patheos: What Expectations Did You Have?”

  1. IMO, you went lgbtq liberal. You would not answer my question on whether homosexual sex is sin biblicaly.

    1 Cor. 6

    9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice >> homosexuality <> And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. <<

  2. This is further evidence that the white evangelicals pulling strings at Patheos Evangelical cannot walk in truth, honesty, transparency, or integrity. And this tells us all we need to know about their theology.

  3. o/t, but this is chilling:
    “The idea behind Project Blitz is to overwhelm state legislatures with bills based on centrally manufactured legislation. “It’s kind of like whack-a-mole for the other side; it’ll drive ‘em crazy that they’ll have to divide their resources out in opposing this,” David Barton, the Christian nationalist historian and one of four members of Project Blitz’s “steering team,” said in a conference call with state legislators from around the country that was later made public.”

  4. In terms of expectations, is it possible he was just referring back to the “3 posts/week for Tier 1 guys” requirement?

    1. That might be a consideration if they had notified him that he was being moved to Tier 2 with other less prolific writers. It is certainly not a reason to cut him out in the middle of the night and remove his blog from the web, comments and all, within 24 hours. It would also have been described as such to Warren as the reason, instead of this nebulous nonsense.

      1. Yeah, it’s not hard to find Patheos bloggers who don’t post anything for weeks at a time and barely get any comments when they do, which means, unlike Warren’s blog, almost nobody’s reading it.

  5. Thank you for sharing this troubling information. Obviously, Patheos does not want to explain their reasoning and are willfully being obtuse. Hopefully, enough bloggers will bear pressure on them to explain themselves properly. Why would they delete one of the best Evangelical bloggers on their site? What does this mean for other bloggers who do not fit into their mold?

  6. Guess “Switzerland” finally got around to putting the bite on you.

    But you’ll forever stand strong!

  7. Does it have anything to do with recent exposes by Prof. Throckmorton on K P Yohannan of Believers Eastern Church, Gospel for Asia? K P Yohannan started blogging on Patheos recently and I think this is not a coincidence. Billion dollar man K P Yohannan does not need Patheos for blogging and this is a PR exercise and I think ousting Prof. Throckmorton is part of it.

  8. Looks like the buyer of the blog site wrote some sort of convoluted “at-will” contract for its bloggers. And perhaps you were acceptable until someone more influential decided to make you unacceptable. But if this truly is an “at-till” contract- it is well established that any “at-will” contracts allow employers to dismiss employees for just cause or for no cause- but never for unjust cause. Which is why these folks won’t explain why they terminated you.

  9. This is about the January 2017 contract changes written at Gods and Radicals, by a lawyer who was on the Patheos Pagan channel. (A third of the Pagan channel bloggers left Patheos when BN Media introduced the new contract)

    “The new contract also requires writers to post with a certain frequency, two to three times a week. While I don’t care that I will be earning less, it does irk me to have my income cut and then be told I have to write more in order to earn it. Jason has assured us this provision of the contract will not be enforced, but in my experience as a lawyer, the only reason to include a provision in a contract which you say you don’t intend to enforce is so you can later spring it on the person. It’s a classic way for employers to fire someone for a discriminatory reason, for example: They decide to suddenly start (selectively) enforcing a contract provision which was not previously enforced so they can claim to have a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for the termination.”


    “The new contract reserves the right to edit any of our posts, and even to change the format of the post or to use the content to create a quiz (?). We are explicitly prohibited from using profanity (with some minor exceptions) and the “tone” (a very subjective term) is expected to resemble that of other online media with which Patheos compares itself, like Slate or Huffington Post. The contract also prohibits advertising or self-promotion. We are also barred from posting a “farewell” post without approval, and even approved farewell posts will be deleted after 7 days.”


    “Patheos could move any of our posts to Beliefnet or any other site that it acquired in the future. And, finally, Patheos could delete any post it deemed, in its sole discretion, to be “offensive” (yet another ambiguous term).”


    “Finally, we are prohibited from “disparaging” Patheos “or any of its related companies”. This is potentially the most problematic part of the contract.”

    An hour after that post went up, Patheos took that post down and blocked the lawyer. Etc. It sounds like the Pagan channel editor and the President and COO of Patheos gave a similar song and dance they just gave to Patheos bloggers about Warren Throckmorton. (“…we should all trust Patheos based on their “track record.”)

    The January 2017 contract


  10. From Monty Python

    “Stig: Well he had to, didn’t he? I mean there was nothing else he could do, be fair. I had transgressed the unwritten law.

    Interviewer: What had you done?

    Stig: Er… well he didn’t tell me that, but he gave me his word that it was the case, and that’s good enough for me with old Dinsy”

  11. I and some 230 other Patheos bloggers belong to the “secret” Facebook group called Patheos Writers Group. It’s where Patheos bloggers leave messages or questions for the managers of their “channels” (Evangelical, Progressive Christian, Atheist, etc.) Those managers typically respond quickly and well.

    They did, that is, before Warren’s blog suddenly dissappeared off of Patheos. Since then they’ve clammed up like … well, like people who are hiding and waiting for everyone to go away.

    As soon as I learned what happened with Warren’s blog, I left this message on the Patheos Writers group: “Is anyone from Patheos going to talk to its bloggers about what the [bleep] happened with Warren Throckmorton’s blog?”

    No one from Patheos replied to that post. So later, in that same thread, I posted this:

    “Just FYI, everyone: Warren remained a part of this Patheos Writers group, right up until the moment after its moderator, Dale McGowan [linked], approved my question out of moderation. Warren SAW the question–but was then immediately axed from the group. Know anything about that, Dale [tagged]?”

    (Until I believe October of 2017, Dale was Patheos’ Director of Growth and Engagement. He is now manager of the site’s Atheist channel.)

    Dale responded to my questions, saying that he did not know why Warren had been removed from the group.

    I replied, “Someone deleted Warren from this page immediately after you okayed my question, and you don’t know who? Boy, if I were you, I’d sure be curious about who did that. And why. And who deleted Warren’s blog. And why. You must be asking everyone there to fill you in on what’s happened with W.’s blog. Yes?”

    No response.

    A little later in the day yesterday, I posted another message to the group. As of this writing, that message is still “pending approval.” And I am still taking bets as to whether Patheos’s powers-that-be will ever publish it.

    Here’s what I wrote:

    “I (and I assume everyone else?) just got in the below from Patheos’ Director of Content, Phil Fox Rose. It says that Warren has known for ‘many months’ that Patheos was going to delete his blog, that no one else should worry about their blog being inexplicably deleted, and that the person to ask more about this is Benjamin L. Corey.

    “(Ben is the manager of the Progressive Christian channel, not of the evangelical channel, on which Warren blogged. On the day Warren’s blog got wiped off Patheos, I asked Ben about it. He said that he knew virtually nothing about the matter.)

    “So, Benjamin (and Ben’s boss, Phil): Although most Patheos bloggers are, of course, hesitant to ask about this publicly, you can trust that all are concerned about what happened to Warren’s blog, and naturally fearful that the same could happen to theirs.

    “Are Patheos’ bloggers really going to receive no more of an explanation from Patheos about why the work of one of its best and most respected writers was one day simply deleted off the site? Is, ‘Don’t worry, it won’t happen to you’ really supposed to suffice as comfort to people who for years have trusted Patheos with their work and their reputation?

    “I forwarded Phil’s email to Warren, along with the note, ‘Just got this in, in case you haven’t seen it yet. Says you knew this was coming.’

    “Warren replied, ‘That’s not true. I specifically asked if a specific type of post would cause my blog to be terminated, and McGee [Jeremy McGee, President and COO of Patheos] said it wasn’t up to him to tell me what to write.’

    “Which means, apparently, that either Patheos or Warren is lying. That’s not good–and certainly not comforting.

    “Phil Fox Rose? Benjamin L. Corey? Anyone from Patheos want to offer Patheos bloggers anything more substantive about what happened to Warren than, ‘Don’t worry, it won’t happen to anyone else?’”

    As I say, that message is still pending approval. And I imagine it will be forever.

    Finally, what happened to Warren is that he got, in a word, Trumped. Jeremy McGee is President of COO of Patheos. He is also on the board of directors of Affinity4, as is Jay Sekulow. BN Media owns Affinity4, Beliefnet and Patheos. They all share presidents, CEO’s, COO’s, Boards of Directors, etc. (McGee, for instance, is also the president of BN media.)

    Warren continued to pull at threads of the big thick money blanket under which the power elite of Christianity all hide and huddle together. It’s amazing his blog lasted on Patheos as long as it did. McGee, et al., don’t mind Progressive Christian bloggers banging on evangelicals, because they know no evangelicals are listening to them. But Warren wrote to an evangelical audience. That, they cannot have.

    1. John: May I encourage you and other Patheos bloggers to keep up the internal pressure despite the stonewalling?

      To do what they did, to come up with ‘not meeting strategic objectives,” and then triangulate, saying that, ‘Mr. Throckmorton was advised of our expectations many months ago’ and ‘it wasn’t ‘a triggering event or post’ is egregious.

      Really? Phil Fox Rose- director of content directing writers to Ben L. Corey – manager of the progressive channel when Warren Throckmorton was on the evangelical channel?
      What’s wrong with that picture?

      Reassuring Patheos bloggers it won’t happen to them is ridiculous.

      Please, keep up the pressure. Thanks for your transparency.

      1. Other questions to ask are:

        Why did his removal happen so quickly (one day notice)?
        Why wasn’t more time given to allow Warren a more orderly transition?
        What has happened to all of the comments that were previously part of his blog posts?
        What other bloggers on the site are not “meeting expectations”?

    2. “Warren continued to pull at threads of the big thick money blanket under which the power elite of Christianity all hide and huddle together.”

      Follow the money is almost always the answer.

      What made Throckmorton’s blog unique was its financial watchdog aspects. Thus, that is the most likely reason for its demise.

  12. Actually, I think you were the tip of the iceberg. The future is going to see Christian writers walking on eggshells around whatever platform they’re using, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Blogger, etc.

  13. If you were ” advised of [their] expectations many months ago,”
    (1) what were those expectations, and,
    (2) were you advised as to how to adjust to those expectations?

    In other words, was there a difference of opinion/ conflict that they sought to resolve with you?

  14. Patheos certainly sent you a line of noncommittal, uninformative BS about why you were summarily dropped from their site. Considering their change of ownership and the recent arrival of several new bloggers who were the subjects of some of your more critical (deservedly so) posts, I’d guess that you stepped on more than a few Evangelical toes. Good! Keep it up! Some toes need to be stepped on, as often as necessary.

  15. “We’re sorry the lack of details allows for speculation” — but we’re not going to provide any details so all you can really do is speculate!

  16. We’re sorry the lack of details allows for speculation, but our commitment remains as always to be the place where conversation about faith is happening in the most robust and dynamic way.

    Is “robust and dynamic” a euphemism for “in accordance with management’s views”?

    It was a specific case.

    But not one triggered by a specific post or a change of policy? That makes no sense.

    1. It seems certain that the one thing missing from all of this so far is the truth. We can note a few things, however.

      The way this was handled makes it stand out as an exception. Warren was locked out of his blog without notice and barely 24 hours later it was erased from existence. There was no attempt to allow for redirection, for notice to former readers, nothing. The response code used was 410 which is rare and would need to be purposely coded. It signifies to search engines that this content no longer exists so quit trying to index.

      I do not know the details of the agreements between Patheos and the bloggers, but this inflicts significant damage on Warren which was perfectly avoidable. If this has been simply a difference of objectives or anything to that effect, why not use a more reasonable process? Why not give Warren time to make preparations to move his site, and then refer to the new location? Why not now facilitate his access to the comments which are part of his content and many times provide valuable context and information on their own?

      When Warren was invited to blog at Patheos, he already had a very popular, well placed blog. After the move, his Google reputation went to that location. Patheos has, in 48 hours, extinguished this. Done properly, his reputation would have moved back to his new location. It is hard to interpret what was done as anything but punitive. With a dollar figure calculated, it could be a civil matter.

      It appears also that the story they are telling those who inquire internally is simple false. This would indicate that they are hiding the real reason, something you don’t need to do if it is reasonable and as simple as what Warren was told (which would mean that was false as well). I would suggest that there was a very personal reason for this, and that it was done by someone powerful enough to circumvent their own system and direct cover stories. It could be petty, or serious, but it definitely isn’t something they want to discuss openly.

      The irony is, if they had done this reasonably, it would likely have been a non-issue for the most part. Now, who knows what surprises might be found along the way to resolution?

      1. I’m here Warren.
        It seems you have found out that money is the true religion and if you mess with the money you will be punished.
        I’m glad you found a new home for your blog.

  17. How strange that the company is willing to talk to OTHER bloggers about things at all regarding dropping you, yet unwilling to talk to YOU.

    On one hand, it is such a common way for authoritarians to act, but is that the image Patheos desires? They are showing they are as tone deaf to their ethics on display here as the SBC is to Paige Patterson’s practices.

    1. I’d call that triangulating – communicating with other bloggers and not Dr. Throckmorton.
      Works in dysfunctional families and workplaces, sows speculation, mistrust, and is an effective way to manipulate and control others.

      “It’s okay, it’s not you or us, just him.”

      If Patheos communicated their expectations, then they should be able to prove they did. The onus is on them.

      It is heartening to see that several bloggers at Patheos forwarded the communication. Maybe they all could take ‘Phil’ up on his invite to discuss and blog all about it.

      Refusing to communicate with Dr. Throckmorton and doing a 410 – not found as David pointed out, is just like shunning, a sign of dysfunctional leadership and workplace.

  18. Well I think it is completely ridiculous.
    You have made enemies Warren, my first instinct was David Barton. You have exposed so much graft and corruption it’s hard to say who is behind this move, but it is obviously somebody. Somebody was out to get you and they won.

    I wouldn’t take it laying down I would mount up a posse of other bloggers on Patheos & your commentors and fight back. What have you got to lose?

    Stand strong Warren, stand strong.

  19. It seems the bent in Patheos Evangelical is to have things as conservative as possible, and it seems in those other sections the writers can say whatever they want. Why didn’t they just ask you to shift to another section (like Progressive or Politics) instead of booting you?

    I also notice that I (in my identity as Devotions for Liberals) have been blocked from making any more comments on the “Patheos Evangelical” Facebook page, although I can still make them on all other Patheos FB pages. Conservative evangelicals genuinely hate divergent opinion.

  20. “Mr. Throckmorton was advised of our expectations many months ago.”
    If that statement is not true, then they put you in a false light. I’d bury them.

  21. Something you said made me think about this from Rick Joyner’s daily word commenting on Rev. 19 that I read yesterday: “We also see that the ones who lament the destruction of this great harlot are those who had business interests with her. Again, there is a reason why the “mark of the beast” is an economic mark that determines whether we can buy, sell, or trade with the present powers of this age. If we are for or against something based on business interests, then we are wide open for deception and ending up on the wrong side.”

  22. In my view, my style or content had not changed during that time period.

    As a regular reader, I agree with your view.

    This email was sent to me by several Patheos bloggers:

    As I read that quoted email, it sure looks as if they are worried about the possibility of a mass exodus from Patheos as a reaction to the way they have handled your blog.

    1. I think some may be wondering if they will be next. What they received in an answer was obviously a lie, and there is nothing Christ-like about that.

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