Despite messaging me on Facebook thanks when the post was first put up on October 6th the comments on this site and on Metal Ireland provoked the band's spokesman to ask me a few nights ago to take the post down or retract the post.
Having been involved in journalism since 1989 the only time I retracted a statement was when as a young naive reporter I was challenged by British Nuclear Fuels. My editor then told me never to do it again. And I haven't.
However, in the interests of fairness I have agreed to carry a statement from the band. Read it before you read my comments...
"Statement from ForChristSake (FCS)
"This is a statement to clarify a few points following the recent comments about us on both Metal Ireland and Belfast Metal Heads Reunited.
"At no point during the interview were the words discrimination or Christianity used by our bassist
,these were words used by the interviewer concerned who was taking poetic licence in his title and we can understand why people misinterpreted this.
"The band did not say that they were discriminated against but we did say that we felt locked out in the local metal scene just because of the close knit metal community, and at no point was this inferred that this had anything to do with our faith/beliefs.
"ForChristSake and their families are disappointed and saddened by the barrage of abuse and intolerance of people who felt the need to ridicule us and our beliefs especially considering our unique situation in Northern Ireland of which the metal scene has always professed that its always about the music...
"We are just a local band trying to do the best we can and trying to get our message across to people who will listen.
"We are all entitled to our faith and we feel we do not deserve this kind of abuse in a public forum considering we would never make similar comments about other people who don't share our beliefs.
"Regardless of the comments that have been made we are not deterred in continuing with our band and are grateful for the private and public support from both Christian and Non Christian heavy metal fans.
This is the entire statement - unedited. While I can be a hard nosed journalist, and hard nosed in my current job I take offence at some parts of this statement relating to my professionalism.
I do not normally do this, nor do I usually write in first person - that is not how I was taught in journalism; from covering council meetings, court sittings, and car crashes, the reporter is no the story. When you're standing at the scene of a sectarian murder or talking to a grieving wife or husband you are not the story. Regular readers will know that very few of the stories, reviews and reports are written in the first person. The story is about the band, the music or the gig.
However, I feel it right in giving ForChristSake the space to have their statement carried entirely I wish to clarify a few things.
Firstly, I have given ForChristSake plenty of space on this blog, and the article on 6th October was the third piece carried to date.
Next - despite my own evidence-based atheism I have not held back from reporting on any band because of their beliefs.
Furthermore writing a headline is not "poetic licence" - it is editing or sub-editing. It also used a rhetorical device to force the reader to think about the concept of a Christian metal band, and the issues they might face. Note the headline's actual phrase is a question and has a question mark. It does not state they are discriminated against; it poses a question to allow readers to make up their own minds.
Nor have I ever challenged them about their faith. I allowed them the space to say what they wished, as in previous articles.
While they received a lot of negative comments they also received support, some very vocal support; I was also accused of "hype" and of "blowing it out of proportion". I have shoulders broad enough to take it.
If a band wants coverage they are going to have to take criticism on the chin; the internet is like a shark tank once genuine commentators, keyboard warriors and trolls go to work. Just read some of the abuse Metallica have taken in forums about St Anger and there latest film release.
Finally - I will not hesitate to continue to promote my blog on Facebook, Twitter or where ever - that's not "hype" that's using social media to share the content to allow fans to read what is being said. I have interviewed band after band, and individuals in the rock/metal scene who are stellar performers. This is the first time I have been asked to retract a statement.
Nor have ForChristSake ever objected to me promoting articles about them on social media previously...
This is my last comment on this.
Owner, Editor, Chief Reporter
October 16th, 2013