“Thousands of atheists, agnostics and other non-believers turned out in the US capital on Saturday to celebrate their rejection of the idea of God and to claim a bigger place in public life,” wrote Agence France-Press of the “Reason Rally” on the National Mall March 24, 2012.
The Reason Rallyers carried crucifixes with profane statements on them, and signs like “So many Christians, so few lions.” They cheered the headline speaker, militant British atheist and scientist Richard Dawkins. Dawkins stressed that, “I don't despise religious people. I despise what they stand for ...” But he went on to exhort the crowd to “ridicule and show contempt” for believers and their faith.
The Reason Rally was just the most obvious action in a long campaign that’s been intensifying – the secular war on faith and its traditional place in American culture. The secular left has grown bolder and more strident in its attempts to marginalize belief in politics, society and pop culture. That’s why, on CNN, anchor Kyra Phillips thought so little of Church doctrine she asked a Catholic bishop, why not get on board with the 43 percent of Catholics" who favor gay marriage. A recent episode of the TV show “Glee” had no problem attacking the Bible while pushing the gay agenda. “You know what else the Bible says is an abomination?” said one character. “Eating lobster, planting crops in the same field, giving someone a proud look – not an abomination? Slavery. Jesus never said anything about gay people. That’s a fact.”
In 2012, the nation faces stubbornly high unemployment, an anemic economy and skyrocketing gas prices. Overseas America is in an unpopular war in Afghanistan and the specter of a nuclear armed Iran looms. And liberals and the media want to talk about … religion.
Specifically, they want to talk about Christianity and Mormonism, skewing their beliefs and twisting issues and positions to make orthodox Christians and practicing Mormons look like intolerant moralizers, out of step with modern America.
So when actor Kirk Cameron states his faith-based opposition to gay marriage, it’s “hate speech.” NFL quarterback Tim Tebow is called “polarizing” and told to “S.T.F.U.” [shut the f*** up] because he publicly lives his evangelical Christian beliefs. An entire new comedy-drama series on network TV is dedicated to painting Christians as foolish and hypocritical.
The secular left has always had plenty of actual hatred for religion and religious people. But in an election year, their animosity is useful tool to help President Obama further his agenda and secure reelection.
To that end, liberals have combined Rick Santorum’s personal orthodox Catholic views on birth control with the Church’s opposition to the White House contraception mandate to create a conservative “war on women.” A Huffington Post blogger said Santorum was part of a “Jesus-eating cult, while former New York Times Editor Bill Keller accused Santorum of “creeping up on a Christian version of Sharia law.” Salon’s Joan Walsh and the New York Times’ Charles Blow felt free to openly mock Romney’s Mormon faith on Twitter, she sneering about the Mormon belief in “baptism by proxy,” he about Romney’s “magic underwear.”
In the meantime, in Afghanistan, Muslims engaged in violent protests and murdered each other and American soldiers over the accidental burning of Korans that captured terrorists had already desecrated by writing secret messages in them. But American liberals see moral equivalency between such killers and Christians who oppose abortion or object to paying for birth control. In the words of one, the only difference between the Taliban and orthodox Catholics “is the type of faith they would impose on others.”
The Media Research Center’s Culture and Media Institute looked at media coverage of relgion as it relates to politics from December 2011 to March 2012, and documented four ways liberals and their media allies have been smearing traditional Christians and Mormons in their crusade against faith.
1. Whipping Up a War on Women
Jobs and the economy are far and away the most important issues to American voters. A March 28 Gallop poll showed 71 percent of Americans worried “a great deal” about the economy, and 65 percent about gas prices. Not coincidentally, these are precisely the areas where President Obama’s record is weakest. It would make sense for liberals to try to change the subject.
In an early January GOP primary debate in New Hampshire, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos unveiled what it would be: contraception. Apropos of nothing, since contraception wasn’t in the news, Stephanopoulos demanded whether Romney and Santorum thought states had a right to ban contraceptives, citing something Santorum had said years before about the constitutionality of the 1965 Supreme Court ruling that found a “right to privacy” that trumped states’ rights to ban contraception. The audience booed Stephanopoulos. For his part, Romney, clearly blindsided, called the line of questioning “silly.”
On January 5, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews played video of Santorum on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News Channel show. Asked if states had the right to ban contraceptives, Santorum said they did, but they “shouldn't do it. I wouldn't vote for it if they did. But that doesn't mean they don't have a right to do it."
Matthews told guest Robert Traynham, a former Santorum staffer, “Let me tell you what he said. He's said ‘My religion should dominate, should trump issues of the Constitution.’ He was saying, ‘Bill O'Reilly, you and I are of the same religion, therefore we should deny a woman's constitutional right to buy birth control or a male to buy birth control.’ Isn't that what he said? We just showed the tape." Traynham heard no such thing and said so. “He just did. Okay? He just did,” asserted Matthews. “And that's what scares me. He thinks we should have a theocracy.”
The theocracy accusation seems common among liberal pundits. Radio host and columnist Bill Press wrote in March that, “Santorum is, at heart, a religious zealot: a religious extremist, who wants the laws of the land to be bound by the tenets of his faith. Sound familiar? It should. Because it’s the same kind of dangerous, religious extremism we’ve learned to fear in the Middle East. The only difference between Santorum and the Taliban’s view of religion’s role in government is the type of faith they would impose on others.”
When the Obama administration delivered its contraception mandate in late January, it’s religious exemption was so narrow that only actual places of worship were exempt. Despite the friendly engagement of New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan as head of the Conference of Catholic Bishops, Obama decreed religious hospitals, schools, universities and charities would have to offer contraception, sterilization and abortifacient coverage to employees or pay huge fines.
In The Washington Post, columnist Michael Gerson that “Obama chose to substantially burden a religious belief, by the most intrusive means, for a less-than-compelling state purpose — a marginal increase in access to contraceptives that are easily available elsewhere.”
And Gerson saw the mandate as a direct slap at religion. “Both radicalism and maliciousness are at work in Obama’s decision — an edict delivered with a sneer.”
Initial outrage even from some on the left forced the president to offer an “accommodation” that many rightly called an “accounting trick.” (The burden of payment for the disputed products and services would be on the insurance companies. But by definition, for-profit companies don’t provide anything “free.” And many religious entities “self-insure,” meaning they’d end up paying anyway.)
When the Bishops rejected the fig leaf compromise, they immediately became the authors of the “war on women,” and paid the price.
On his radio show a couple of days later, Press (a former Catholic seminarian) expanded his condemnation to the Catholic bishops.
There is a war on women going on. It’s a war on women that’s being conducted by Republicans in the House, you expect that. By Republicans in the Senate, you expect that. But, it’s also being led by the Catholic bishops of this country, which is outrageous and which is wrong. Well you might say of course the Catholic Bishops are part of the war on women, you know they won’t allow women to become priests in the Catholic Church. They won’t allow Priests to get married because there’s something wrong with living with a woman, or having sex with a woman. I mean they’ve got this anti-woman thing built into them.
Again, the bishops object to providing birth control as a matter of religious conscience. They currently are not obligated to cover contraceptives for employees and simply want that to continue. But the liberals have pushed the story of the bishops and conservatives as aggressors, as MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow did in a Washington Post op-ed that was accompanied on-line by a video cartoon of a bishop and a politician playing ping-pong with a miniaturized woman’s body.
On Feb. 16, in the Washington Post’s invariably misnamed “On Faith” blog, Lisa Miller dripped contempt for Catholicism as she advised President Obama how to fight his ‘war on religion.’ The bishops’ defense of their “so-called freedoms” was “a red herring, an election-year ploy to make the president look un-American.” Miller exhorted the president to stand up “to the zealots.”
The New York Times blamed religion for what it called the GOP’s “casual cruelty,” in a March 7 editorial. “Republican candidates are so deep in the trenches of cultural and religious warfare that they aren’t offering any solutions … There are finally signs that they may pay a price for the casual cruelty with which they attack whole segments of society. Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican of Alaska, said on Tuesday that the Republicans have left people thinking they are at war with women. Women are right to think that.”
2. Old Fashioned Anti-Catholicism
Because the HHS Mandate primarily affected Catholic institutions, the Catholic bishops and their defenders quickly became the most visible villains of the phony war on women.
As an orthodox Catholic, Santorum joined the bishops. The most vile attack came from a blogger at the Huffington Post. In “The Jesus-Eating Cult of Rick Santorum,” Larry Doyle called the pope a “former Nazi,” and the Catholic mass a “barbaric ritual” where followers eat the Jesus meat and drink his holy blood in a cannibalistic reverie not often seen outside Cinemax.”
Santorum, Doyle wrote, planned to “implement his leader's dicta on allowed uses of vaginas and anuses, but has said little about what additional dogma he will be compelled to obey.”
Responding to outrage over the column, Doyle refused to apologize, calling the piece satire “of the type of vicious religious ignorance and intolerance I too often see coming from too many so-called Christians, especially Santorum.” The vicious ignorance he cited Santorum’s “dog whistle references to President Obama's ‘phony ideology’ and his assertion that it is impossible to be a Christian and liberal.”
But Doyle’s explanation was no better than the original column. Santorum had referred to Obama having “some phony theology.” In context, Santorum was clearly talking about Obama’s adherence to environmentalism, which conservatives have long compared to a theology. He wasn’t questioning the president’s Christianity. But liberal journalists like The Washington Post’s Rosalind S. Helderman, decided to spin the incident as an intentional “us versus them” verbal cue to believing Christians.
That Doyle was unapologetic isn’t surprising – anti Catholicism is mainstream on the elite left. For example, at a February appearance at Washington, D.C.’s Ford’s Theater, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews claimed Catholics are bigoted. Talking about political trends in the American South, Matthews said, “If you're really anti-gay, you become a Catholic now.” Asked if he wished to he wished to “expand or apologize,” Matthews said, “I'm saying that some people who are bigoted against gay people have changed religions. Yes. You got it right.”
Profaning Catholic symbolism also makes for entertainment. At the Grammy awards in February, a performance by singer Nicki Minaj caused controversy. Catholic League President Bill Donohue described it:
Minaj’s performance began on stage with a mock confessional skit. This was followed by a taped video depicting a mock exorcism. With stained glass in the background, she appeared on stage again with choir boys and monks dancing.
Perhaps the most vulgar part was the sexual statement that showed a scantily clad female dancer stretching backwards while an altar boy knelt between her legs in prayer. Finally, “Come All Ye Faithful” was sung while a man posing as a bishop walked on stage; Minaj was shown levitating.
None of this was by accident, and all of it was approved by The Recording Academy, which puts on the Grammys.
But Donohue, to liberals, was “hyperventilating,” in the words of New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. Minaj’s act wasn’t to Dowd’s taste. “The only good thing about it, as Marc Hogan wrote in Spin, was the chance that her devilish song might make “Bill Donohue’s head spin while spewing green vomit.”
3. Ecumenical Hate
It’s not just Catholics; evangelicals and other conservative Christians draw plenty of fire too.
When quarterback Tim Tebow almost singlehandedly turned around the Denver Broncos season last fall he became to talk of the pro sports world, and often for the worse. “Tebowing” – imitating the outspoken Christian’s practice of dropping to one knee in prayerful acknowledgement of God – became an often mocking phenomenon. Entire websites devoted to hating Tebow sprang up.
Former NFL quarterback Jake Plummer said of Tebow: “I think that when he accepts the fact that we know that he loves Jesus Christ, then I think I'll like him a little better. I don't hate him because of that, I just would rather not have to hear that every single time he takes a good snap or makes a good handoff.”
Bill Press put a finer point on it. On his radio show in December, he played audio of Tebow talking to the media after a game and then mocked him. “Oh yeah, all right all right yeah first of all I just have to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and you know what I want to say, S.T.F.U. [shut the f*** up] I’m tired of hearing Tim Tebow and all this Jesus talk.”
When the Broncos lost big to Buffalo on Christmas Eve, “comedian” Bill Maher tweeted “Wow, Jesus just f***ed #TimTebow bad! And on Xmas Eve! Somewhere … Satan is tebowing …”
In January, BleacherReport.com pronounced that, “Tim Tebow Is Now the Most Polarizing Figure in All of Sports.” When Tebow was traded in March, ESPN reported “Unusually quiet in recent weeks, the New York Jets shattered the calm Wednesday by completing a trade for polarizing quarterback Tim Tebow, the team confirmed.”
In sports, “polarizing” is a word usually reserved for athletes who taunt opponents or brag, or whose on- and off-field behavior is outrageous. None of those things apply to Tebow. So the quarterback is polarizing simply for being a practicing Christian.
Another public figure who has paid a price for not just paying lip service to his religion is actor Kirk Cameron. Appearing on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight” on March 2, the evangelical Christian was asked about his views on gay marriage.
Cameron told Morgan, “Marriage is defined by God in the garden between Adam and Eve, one man, one woman for life, til-death-do-you-part,” and said he would never attempt to re-define marriage – he did not support gay marriage because of his Christian beliefs.
That simple statement, which would have been unremarkable a generation ago, drew a storm of outrage from gay activists and their liberal allies. Cameron was a “bigot” and “homophobe,” according gay gossip columnist Perez Hilton. Actress Roseanne Barr tweeted that “kirk or kurt or whatever cameron is an accomplice to murder with his hate speech. so is rick warren. their peers r killing gays in uganda.” That’s Rosanne Barr the anti-Semite who recently called for beheading the rich right here in the U.S.
Lest there be any mistake that the Hollywood left is particularly hostile to Christianity, they’ve created an entire TV show to prove it. In just the first three episodes of ABC’s “G.C.B.” (short for “Good Christian Bitches” – it’s original title), there were more than 100 instances of mocking or attacking Christians and their faith. The characters are drunken adulterers or secretly gay, materialistic, dishonest and treacherous.
4. Mormon Magic
If, as seems likely, Mitt Romney becomes the Republican nominee, liberals have already shown they’ll go after his Mormon faith, whether in tweets, jokes or under the guise of “journalism.”
An example of the latter was provided by MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Feb. 3. Under the guise of discussing “misconceptions” about Mormonism, the panel helpfully reminded viewers that, in the words of co-host Willie Geist, some people believe “there’s something weird, something odd about Mormonism.” They brought up polygamy and "strange religious rituals." Author Matthew Bowman suggested pop culture depicts Mormons as "still not a group to be taken seriously, not a group of people who can actually look and say, yes, this is somebody I might want to elect president."
During a televised debate in which Mitt Romney made mention of the importance of two-parent homes, Charles Blow of the New York Times tweeted “Let me just tell you this Mitt ‘Muddle Mouth’: I’m a single parent and my kids are *amazing*! Stick that in your magic underwear.”
“Magic underwear” is a derogatory reference to a garment Mormons hold sacred and keep throughout their lives.
Twitter seems to be where liberal journalists let their disdain for Mormons hang out. Salon’s Joan Walsh did on Feb. 28. “Romney’s saving the soul of America – so he doesn’t have to baptize us after we’re dead.” Mormons believe that a living person can have a baptism by proxy for someone that has died without having gone through this ritual.
From spinning the ObamaCare attack on religious conscience into a “war on women,” to screaming “theocracy” when a conservative talks about faith, recent examples of the liberal media’s contempt for faith are too numerous to adequately catalog. These are just the most glaring examples. And they’re echoed in other ways in other parts of culture. The last acceptable discrimination targets Christians, and the evidence appears almost weekly.
Christian groups objected recently to Vanderbilt University’s “all comers” policy that “requires organizations on campus to comply with its all-comers policy, which requires groups to extend membership and leadership positions to all who show up at meetings,” according to the Christian Post. “In other words, organizations cannot require that leaders share the group's beliefs, goals and values.” In response to Christian protests, American United for the Separation of Church and State Executive Director Barry W. Lynn told them to “stop whining” and have their meetings in private homes like their brethren in communist China.
In Cranston, R.I., an atheist group paid a high school student a $40,000 “scholarship” for successfully suing her high school to have a 50-year-old prayer banner removed from the walls. In Harrisburg, Penn., Ernest Perce V, the Pennsylvania director of American Atheists, recently demanded state lawmakers rescind a decision to celebrate 2012 as the “Year of the Bible,” according to FoxNation. The Bible, he said, is “barbaric.” In December, CMI documented the 2011 campaign of the ongoing “war on Christmas.”
Such hostility toward traditional faith is facilitated by a media that doesn’t understand people of faith, and is eager to use religious and cultural issues as a weapon against conservative policies and politicians while pays lip service to the religious claims of liberals.
The liberal media’s innate disdain for religion has never been more useful in achieving their political goals. As a result, 2012 is the year of the Crusade against Faith.