Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Because Journalism Is Dead But Jesus Isn't: The "Side-hug" Smear Part II

In Part I, I talked about a video I found through a friend on Facebook.

The video bugged me. I'm kind of a Christian music geek and I can think of two songs that have the word "Christian" in them. Neither are contemporary: The carol "Good Christian Men Rejoice", and "They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love."

Besides, if the side-hug was a legitimate concern of a group of hard-core Christians, they'd be banging on their pipe organ, not trying to emulate rap.

So I contacted the church that submitted the video. Here's my interview:

1. Let’s legitimize our interview by having you introduce yourself and role at TFH. How did you come to work there?

My name is Tim Bittle. I am not "employed" by TFH but I am an associate youth pastor. I am a bi-vocational pastor (meaning that I work a secular job for income and pastor at the church for free). My wife and I have been working with the youth for about 3 years now.

2. Did you all ever have a clue that this video would get the views its getting?

Not at all! As of last night, we we're over 500k including all sources (youtube, vimeo, and other video websites). We never intended the video to be anything other than a nostalgic memory for those that were in attendance at the 2009 EG conference.

3. Did Huffington Post contact you before it put it on its blog?

Never once! Which makes the claims of the videos legitimacy all that more hilarious!

4. Everyone who watches this video is struck by the high level of organization, sound design and choreography involved in this song. For detractors, it’s proof that it’s a professional group trying to legitimately promote a Christian ideal to Christian youth. For people like me, it’s proof that these are a group that if they’re going to spoof something, they’re going all the way. Which is it?

This video / performance was never intended to be taken seriously. The "rap" was written by myself, an actor and a full time janitor at the church (we are all good friends). We are about as far off from being "rappers" or even aspiring "rappers" as one can be.

When we put on these events, we get tired of standing in front of 1000 people and rattling off a bunch of rules (don't bring food or drink into the sanctuary, turn your cell phones to silent so you don't disrupt the service, etc...). This rap was created to spice things up a bit. At the opening scene, you notice that the screens are all fuzzy. That's because the rules video had just cut out and we came on stage to make the rules a bit more fun.

When we do something like this at our church, we always do it with a ton of energy and what we believe to be excellence! You can see evidence of this in the other videos posted to the TFH account on youtube.

5. There are clues this is a spoof. It’s posted on a Youtube channel that has only rap spoofs. It is tagged under “comedy.” You can hear peals of laughter throughout the video, starting at :40 seconds. Why do you think people didn’t get the clues?

Beat's me. The best answer I can give is that they didn't want to. Much of the response, as you can see, has been negative. It is generally aimed at demeaning Christians and not necessarily us a individuals in the video.

I think much of the controversy has been stirred by peoples desire to share their opinions about how much they despise organized religion and those that would be "shallow minded" enough to believe it. At the end of the day, we are not offended at all but it was a bit of an eye-opener about outsiders views of the church.

6. Are you all going to do anything to address that it is a spoof?

We have purposely not responded online or posted a response video. Partially because we think it's funny that something this hilarious turned into such a big deal but also partially because we have been surprised to see how quickly information gets twisted. Many of the mainstream media websites posted that "we have verified that this is a legitimate rap group".

The fact that none of us had been contacted to verify this information is alarming! How many people are just buying into whatever garbage they are told online, on the news or by what they deem to be reliable sources. It just supports the thought that journalism today is not what it should be. This is one of many interviews we have done with those who want the truth behind the video. I think after a short period of time, the spoof will just sort of address itself.

7. My father’s a pastor and I’ve been a Christian all my life. I honestly have never heard of the “side hug” before the rap. Is it a part of your church’s beliefs? Is it part of any of the “rapper’s” beliefs?

Not at all! We are all totally fine with hugging. This was just some self-depreciating humor working itself in song :).

8. I am amazed that the stories of Christians having an impact on this world are rarely ever told, but slams on Christians like this spread like wildfire. Something tells me you wish a different video, story or website would have gotten as much notice. Is there a story, video or website you would like to tell me about that tells more of who you all are and what you do?

I would love to recommend that anyone interested download the TFH podcast / videocast. We have a great church with an amazing senior pastor. It's a relevant church with amazing worship and practical teaching.

I guess my advice would be "don't knock it till you've tried it". All of us in the video were living pretty colorful lives before we became christians and began attending this church.

I can honestly say that without it, we may have all found ourselves in much less desirable place in life. Any info you would want about our church, our campuses, our internship, our beliefs, etc, can all be found at Thanks!


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