On Being Booted Off Patheos: Patheos Bloggers Speak Out

Patheos blogger Fred Clark (aka Slacktivist Fred) says I may have been “Throcked.” He offers this term to describe being fired to appease far-right donors and to warn others not to anger those donors.

Whatever the reason or reasons, some Patheos bloggers have bravely taken to their Patheos blogs to criticize the move to dismiss me from the platform.  This post serves as a summary of those posts.


If it’s good enough for Andre Braugher, it’s good enough for me

Some excerpts:

Warren Throckmorton’s fine blog is no longer here on Patheos. He got booted off, with no coherent explanation. That was rude — rudely disrespectful toward someone whose long presence here has enormously enriched every conception of Patheos as a community or a conversation.

And it was a radical departure of the entire premise and ethos of Patheos as a platform for writers and bloggers from every imaginable religious perspective. It’s a violation of explicit and implicit promises made to everyone whose blog is hosted at this site. Not cool.

Two big points. One, Patheos didn’t treat me right. Two, what was good about Patheos is now in question.

In a previous post, Clark wondered why Patheos simply didn’t offer to move the blog to the Progressive Channel:

Patheos’ evangelical channel has changed its shape and tone quite a bit over the years since it first started with the strange duo of me and Scot McKnight. I fully understood when they booted me over to the “progressive Christian” channel — an awkward, we-need-to-call-this-somethingcategory that has since become a widely used term. But I can’t imagine a defensible notion of the “strategic objectives” for that channel that wouldn’t have room for Warren Throckmorton’s terrific blog.

Maybe the ever-shifting, perpetually negotiated boundaries of “evangelical” have reached a point where Doc Throck no longer fits into the now-Driscoll-friendly shape of that channel here at Patheos. OK, fine, then move him over to another channel. That was the whole idea of Patheos in the first place — there’s a channel for everyperspective, right? Not doing that just … smells bad.

Also too: It’s never a good sign when people start talking about “strategic objectives.”

Mercy Not Sacrifice: The Blog of Morgan Guyton

Early out of the gate was Morgan Guyton with this question:

Why Did Patheos Evangelical Push Out A Whistleblower Blog?

Some excerpts:

I’ve just been informed that the Patheos Evangelical channel has closed down the blog of evangelical whistleblower Warren Throckmorton, who was most renowned for his exposes on the plagiarism and abusive leadership of Mark Driscoll at the former Mars Hill Bible Church. Recently, Patheos Evangelical started hosting a blog for Mark Driscoll. It’s very hard not to see these events as interrelated.

They may be related. Driscoll is coming out with a new book and it could help him to get rid of all those Patheos links to his past difficulties with publishing and citations. However, I am not convinced. The material remains active on the web and my articles on The Daily Beast are more visible than the blog posts.

Guyton concludes:

There is nothing Christian about maneuvering in the shadows. Patheos Evangelical owes an explanation to all the bloggers in the Patheos community because these kinds of actions impact all of our credibility.

Preventing Grace with Anne Kennedy

One evangelical blogger mentioned the event without much comment. Anne Kennedy wrote:

Was curious and sad to see that Warren Throckmorton is no longer blogging at Patheos. You can read what he says here. He has moved all his content to a new cyber home if you want to bookmark his page.


Anne added a post on May 30 with a more specific lament:

I do not pretend to be able to understand why Dr. Throckmorton does not meet “strategic purposes.” I didn’t know we had any. I was under the impression that we were all wandering around the internet every day, talking about faith, theology, politics, movies, books, food, culture, news, and whatever else happened by. Dr. Throckmorton is brilliant on the breaking news part. I have often been, I am sorry to say, jealous of his ability to dig out the news. Would that jealousy had compelled me to work harder. It is a great loss that he is no longer here. I don’t know how to make sense of it.

Other mentions

One occasional Anxious Bench writer had a lot to say although it was on his own blog. John Fea did three posts on the incident (here, here, and here).

I do know that many bloggers are discussing the issues involved (e.g., here) and are quite concerned about their futures at Patheos. They should be. I had no warning and was under the impression that my work was valued.

If you have written about this and don’t see your post here, please let me know.


Former Patheos blogger Dan Wilkinson wrote a nice piece examining who owns Patheos. After examining those individuals, Wilkinson ends by writing:

Though Patheos continues to remain silent on the issue, it’s not hard to imagine why Dr. Throckmorton’s evangelical watchdog blog failed to meet the “expectations” of Patheos’ conservative Christian owners. Perhaps the only thing that’s surprising is that they let his blog last as long as it did.



23 thoughts on “On Being Booted Off Patheos: Patheos Bloggers Speak Out”

  1. Whatever else Patheos is doing, they are hiding the real reasons for their bad behavior in giving Dr. T’s blog the graceless boot.

    The difference between the familiar ‘404 Page Not Found’ and ‘410 Page Gone’ is telling. 410 Gone from Wiki:

    Indicates that the resource requested is no longer available and will not be available again. This should be used when a resource has been intentionally removed and the resource should be purged. Upon receiving a 410 status code, the client should not request the resource in the future. Clients such as search engines should remove the resource from their indices. Most use cases do not require clients and search engines to purge the resource, and a “404 Not Found” may be used instead. [emphasis mine]

    Seems like overkill to have search engines purge any association between Dr T and Patheos. Especially when considered with Rose’s comment that Dr. T was a “special case”, but still not providing details and leaving room for speculation.

    Keep digging. Like Mars Hill and Gospel for Asia, the truth is in there somewhere.

    1. Not just purge associations with Patheos, a 410 purges the material from indexes period. It must be coded on purpose, it is not a normal response code. I’ve been doing this kind of work for over 20 years, and I can’t remember ever using it. It was a punitive move. It says this blog is gone, it isn’t coming back, stop even trying to index it.

      A 404 would have been harsh but not as bad, and would be a normal response code once the content was removed. If they had wanted to be reasonable and keep Warren’s interests intact, they could have asked him for the new blog location, and coded a 301 response with that location as the new destination.

      This would have told Google to simply note that the site had moved and to continue indexing there. Links formerly going to Patheos.com/blog/warrenthrockmorton/… would have changed to reflect wthrockmorton.com/… At least that is how it should have been done if they didn’t want to cause him damage.

      None of that addresses their apparent lack of cooperation in providing Warren with a way to move his Disqus comments since 2013+ over to his own account. There are a couple of ways this could be done but both require Patheos’ cooperation. Whatever the real reason for his blog being dumped, the method was one that causes maximum pain and loss to Warren.

      Depending on how the agreement between Patheos and the bloggers is worded, I suspect – as a laymen – that there could be grounds for a civil action against Patheos. At the very least, those who currently blog under Patheos’ system should be leery of what may happen to their own blogs in the future.

      1. Hi David! I wanted to credit you for turning me in the 410 direction but couldn’t come up with your last name and at the time, no prior comments were available. Anyway, thank you.

        An attorney named John Halstead was booted off in January of 2017, yet his blog still appears on Patheos. See: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/allergicpagan/ and he wrote about it here https://godsandradicals.org/2017/01/31/repost-read-this-before-patheos-deletes-it/

        So while it’s not unheard of to be booted from Patheos, I can’t find any other instances of the 410 Gone extreme they deliberately coded for Dr. T. I read that as they wanted to get rid of his blog and deliberately damage him at the same time. I’m with you and I think there is more here than Patheos wants known.

        1. Normally when you leave Patheos (willingly or not), they leave all your past content up there, so they can continue to generate ad revenue from it.

  2. I’m sorry to see this blog got booted off Patheos. Whatever the reason, I think they made a serious mistake. I suspect others such as Scot McKnight may be looking over their shoulders, perhaps Anne Kennedy as well now that she’s mentioned you twice.

    I’m hoping you’ll soon get back to what you do best. You’re one of those bloggers who makes me think even when I disagree with you. However, it seems to me that four posts on Patheos’ decision is enough. In the end it is they, not you, who will pay a price as they risk losing some good bloggers in the wake of their actions.

    1. There will more blogs about Patheos, that is sure. Until I get some answers, I will post more. However, I will return to other topics in the mean time, probably tomorrow. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. Nice to see the avatar of Spock again. It looks like the minor disruption is about over. Time to expose more scandal. Judgment starts with God’s house. There is a lot of wickedness still hiding just out of public sight. God is not done until it is all out in the open everywhere. The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.
    Oh, and I can see my old comments off of your former blog. It is just that your whole posts are gone thanks to greedy men pretending to be believers for $$$.

  4. Patheos is hiding something big time. Not only did they want Dr. T’s blog gone, they did it in such a way as to completely erase any association between Patheos and Warren Throckmorton on the internet.

    Most of us are familiar with the 404 “page not found” status code. The 410 is similar, but goes even further:

    410 Gone
    Indicates that the resource requested is no longer available and will not be available again. This should be used when a resource has been intentionally removed and the resource should be purged. Upon receiving a 410 status code, the client should not request the resource in the future. Clients such as search engines should remove the resource from their indices. Most use cases do not require clients and search engines to purge the resource, and a “404 Not Found” may be used instead. [Emphasis mine]

    Has anyone ever seen a 410 used against any other author on Patheos prior to this?

  5. Long-time lurker, first-time commenter, just wanted to say welcome here. Most definitely Patheos’ loss (wish I could say I’m surprised, but ever since they rolled out the carpet for M.D., sadly not).

  6. However, I am not convinced. The material remains active on the web and my articles on The Daily Beast are more visible than the blog posts.

    What I think you are missing Warren, is that although your posts are still out there (and hopefully soon the comments), they won’t be found if you search Patheos for “Mark Driscoll”.

    1. I realize that and that is a win for Driscoll. However, I suspect most people won’t stop at searching Patheos.

      1. Dr. Throckmorton,

        Apologies if you’ve already addressed this, but will you be able to access your previous posts with comments and transfer them here, all original posts and comments together? When browsing my Disqus dashboard, your posts are 410 throcked, but the comments do appear. I wonder if someone from Zeta Global’s Disqus is in a position to assist with data recovery and migration. Again, apologies if you covered this.

        1. I don’t have admin privileges to get my comments transferred. Patheos would have to cooperate to do that and they have not done so. Disqus has not responded to multiple requests.

  7. “Curious and sad”??? “No longer blogging”??? Followed by a nit picky rant about how bad Curry’s wedding sermon was because he didn’t preach the gospel according to her notion of what exactly the gospel is ? (Spoiler: it’s not about how to love your neighbor, it’s about how we’re so bad at it that we need Jesus to do it for us. )

    And that’s the only mention you got on the evangelical channel?

    Yeesh. I’m thinking you’re better off elsewhere.

    (Note: I’m an occasional commentator on Fred Clark’s site and we are very concerned that Fred may be next. How can we trust Patheos’ reassurances that other bloggers have nothing to worry about when they’ve been patently dishonest about their reasons for booting you in the first place.)

  8. A wild surmise.

    ” Finally, we are prohibited from “disparaging” Patheos “or any of its related companies”. This is potentially the most problematic part of the contract. For example, one of the other writers here brought to my attention that the American Centre for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a group founded by the televangelist Pat Robertson, is a partner with Affinity4, which is itself listed alongside Beliefnet and Patheos on the BN Media page. The ACLJ lobbies for the death penalty for gays in other countries. Under the new contract, ACLJ could be considered a “related company” that we’re not permitted to disparage. (And that’s just one related company that we’ve discovered in less than 24 hours”

    Are Barton’s or Yohanson’s religion business’s now affiliated with Affinity4?

  9. It wasn’t fair Warren, you deserve an explanation.

    Thanks for always treating me fairly.

  10. Perhaps someone with the time energy and money can put something together to compete. For now, I am careful to only go to Patheos for those bloggers that I just have to read, and avoid any clicks elsewhere on the site.
    It is really bizarre to have a site that has a “pagan” division to kick someone out. (Not to single out pagans, as you could insert any non-Christian division on the site instead.)

    1. Which goes to show you that they don’t really “believe” in their evangelical/fundamentalist/biblical world view. It’s money. That is all. Money. If it were about their “godly” rhetoric, there isn’t any way they would in their biblical literist rhetoric, be able to give voice and platform to views outside of their own.

      Which is why I believe Warren was “throcked.” He was a resistor within their club. They don’t care so much about resistors on different channels because evangelicals do not read our blogs. Therefore, there is no reason to be concerned of waking up evangelicals and crashing the house of cards.

      With Warren being on the evangelical channel, he was speaking to that audience with inconvenient truth.

  11. Patheos is negating its influence and position within the wider world with moves such as this. Soon , Patheos will devolve into just another blog of fundamentalists apologists and cheerleaders. Sad!

    1. It’s headed that way, just a fundy, cheerleader site.

      Professor Throckmorton, you are better off. You no longer have to worry about saying something that will get you banned or put on “double secret probation.”

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