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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Rick Warren's Employees Scrubbing Wikipedia of him

Read all about it here.

A couple of months ago I looked up “Rick Warren” on Wikipedia to see what the entry said about Warren and Prop 8. I clicked on the discussion page tab and discovered a Wikipedia War that has become my favorite soap opera.

The discussion about how to present Warren’s position regarding Prop 8 begins here:

One editor, Benccc changed a portion of the Warren article to say that Prop 8 "amended the state constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry." It had previously said that Prop 8 "amended the state constitution to ban same-sex marriages."

Then another editor, CarverM changed Benccc’s edit to read that Prop 8 "amended the state constitution to read, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

Benccc went to the article's discussion page and pointed out that the original line and CarverM's edit “omits an essential fact. Thirty states ban same-sex marriage; Prop 8 is unique for having rescinded it. Readers aware of that fact may better understand why Warren's support for Prop 8 was the subject of protests”.

And thus began an epic Wikipedia War that has resulted in Wikipedia officially “locking down” the Rick Warren page with a banner that warns “The neutrality of this article is disputed” and “This page is currently protected from editing until disputes have been resolved.”

The two sides have been sharply drawn from the beginning, with one side calling for inclusion of controversies surrounding Warren, and the other side trying to strip anything but the most cursory mention of Warren controversies from the article.

Among the contentions made by the Warren Wikipedia Whitewashers:

- Warren did not compare same sex marriage to incest, polygamy and pedophilia during his notorious Beliefnet interview.
- Gay and lesbian people have never had the right to marry in California.
- Controversies surrounding Warren's position on gay marriage are, according to CarverM, "a tempest in a teapot" and unworthy of more discussion than a link to Wikipedia's Proposition 8 page.

After weeks of voluminous and sometimes heated debate, it was uncovered that CarverM is in fact Mark Carver, the International Director of Purpose Driven Ministries.

Here is Carver's bio from one of Warren’s websites : "As executive director for Purpose Driven Church, Mark Carver oversees the ministry of Purpose Driven in every region of the world except North America. His vision is to see a worldwide community of healthy churches working together to fulfill the Great Commission. Toward that end, Carver and his team are developing tools to train pastors worldwide and creating curriculum to support the spiritual health of individual church members."

Unfortunately for Mr. Carver, Wikipedia has a strong policy in regards conflict of interest. Once it was learned he is one of Warren's closest buddies, he was banned from the discussion for three months, along with another Warren Wikipedia Whitewasher who inadvertently revealed he was a member of Saddleback Church.

There is no way to ascertain if the remaining Warren Wikipedia Whitewashers are also closely linked to Warren, because although Wikipedia forbids conflict of interest, they also protect the anonymity of their editors (???).

The “discussion” has been sent to “Wikipedia mediation” in which experienced editors attempt to get the parties to settle on language acceptable to both sides. So far, the mediation has been an abject failure with the remaining Warren Wikipedia Whitewashers attempting to block inclusion of Warren controversies at every turn.

One of the highly frustrated Wikipedia mediators recently declared “Frankly, I don't see what this mediation will accomplish if editors cannot sit down at a table together and discuss things rationally. I'm giving it one more chance, but if I have to withdraw again I will not return.” Two parties to the mediation, both openly gay, have already dropped out of the mediation in exasperation.

Will the Warren Wikipedia Whitewashers succeed in re-writing history? We shall see.

So far, it appears that the Warren Whitewashers have succeeded. CarverM's exposure is here.