Building a Bridge

A gay journalist and evangelical pastor correct their mutual misperceptions.
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CT senior writer Wendy Murray Zoba and Salon.com journalist Dave Cullen were both covering the Columbine story when they went head to head over Cassie Bernall. Cullen broke the story that introduced doubt about whether Cassie's killer asked her if she believed in God ("Behind the Littleton Investigation," Salon.com, Sept 23, 1999). Zoba challenged Cullen's reporting, citing multiple witnesses who heard the exchange and stood behind their account ("Cassie Said Yes, They Say No," CT, Dec. 6, 1999). In the story's aftermath, they began a dialogue that has resulted in camaraderie united by the intensity and complexity of covering Columbine.

Where Zoba and Cullen intersected over Cassie Bernall, Cullen and pastor Bill Oudemolen of Foothills Bible Church outside Littleton intersected over the role of the Devil. In another Salon.com article, "I Smell the Presence of Satan" (May 15, 1999), Cullen expressed his surprise at the emphasis evangelicals placed on the role of Satan in the Columbine shootings (the article's title came from one of Oudemolen's sermons).

Cullen, who is gay and a former Catholic, segued into the world of evangelicals with reticence. He was prepared to despise them. He was surprised: he liked them, and they liked him.

Cullen, Oudemolen, and Zoba have all been challenged by what they discovered about each other and their differing worlds. The three met in Littleton in April and talked about how evangelicals and gays perceive one another--and how they can move toward greater understanding.

Zoba: Dave, being a member of the gay community and--as you put it--a lapsed Catholic, what were your thoughts as you began covering evangelicals for Salon?

Cullen: I didn't know how to approach this because I didn't know who these ...

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