Hodges: Thanks, dear reader, for sticking with me as I stuck by my faith
My editor informed me last week that my column was being dropped with the recent budget cuts at The Salt Lake Tribune.
Seven years ago, the paper asked me to submit a piece for the Faith section. The editors were looking for a religious leader to write about current events and ideas from a moral perspective.
My submission prompted an offer to be a part-time columnist. As a pastor, my primary responsibility is to my congregation, and it's easy to get sidetracked by other commitments. But this was an incredible chance to put a Christian voice before a wide audience, so I accepted.
There was never a shortage of news stories or issues. My worldview is shaped by the Scriptures, so my opinions align with biblical principles. The challenge was communicating my views without sounding preachy. I constantly reminded myself that I was writing a column for the paper, not a sermon for the pulpit.
On Saturday mornings, after my piece was published, I usually received several emails. I was humbled when readers told me my words had challenged them. A common sentiment was that my comments helped them correct misconceptions about the Christian faith.
Some of my columns were controversial. Amid California's Proposition 8 debate, I wrote a piece that brought much hate mail. I called my editor, wondering if I needed to stick with milder topics.
He told me: "Some people love your columns, some people hate your columns, but both groups of people are reading your columns."
One piece earned me mention on Bill O'Reilly's Fox News Channel TV show. O'Reilly called me an "outrageous liar" after I wrote about comments he had made on the air. I responded with another column. He shot back on his next program, again saying my statements were a "flat-out lie." I disagreed with him both times but decided it was best not to pick any more fights with Bill O'Reilly.
Still, I'm grateful to readers those who appreciated my work and those who didn't. I'm thankful to the many people at The Tribune who have edited my column through the years. The published piece was always better than the original.
The only way I can explain how an opportunity like this came my way is divine providence. During the past seven years, I believe I have used this column responsibly to champion biblical faith and values. I fulfilled my duty not only as a columnist but also as a Christian.
Contact Corey J. Hodges, pastor of New Pilgrim Baptist Church, at email@example.com.