Global Warming: Now the Media Get Religion

In recent years, the liberal press has become increasingly upset with conservative religious people who maintain the rightfulness of having their political views stem from their religious ones on issues like abortion, gay rights, and welfare. Such views, according to the media, are illegitmate and even threaten the balance of church and state within our society.

Trouble is, though, liberal journalists don't apply this standard consistently. While the media are adamantly opposed to religious motivations on cultural issues, rarely do you hear the media grouse about Christians and Jews who oppose capital punishment on religious grounds. That's because religion is like anything else to the radical left--a means to an end. In the eyes of the media, the moral value of anything or anyone is directly proportional to its usefulness to liberalism.

It's for this reason that I highly doubt you'll hear any complaints from the press gallery about the latest initiative of Pope Benedict XVI, promoting the idea of human-caused global warming:

The Pope is expected to use his first address to the United Nations to deliver a powerful warning over climate change in a move to adopt protection of the environment as a "moral" cause for the Catholic Church and its billion-strong following.

The New York speech is likely to contain an appeal for sustainable development, and it will follow an unprecedented Encyclical (a message to the wider church) on the subject, senior diplomatic sources have told The Independent.

It will act as the centrepiece of a US visit scheduled for next April – the first by Benedict XVI, and the first Papal visit since 1999 – and round off an environmental blitz at the Vatican, in which the Pope has personally led moves to emphasise green issues based on the belief that climate change is affecting the poorest people on the planet, and the principle that believers have a duty to "protect creation." [...]

It also follows a series of interventions by the Pope on the environment. On 2 September he told a 300,000 youth audience: "Before it is too late, it is necessary to make courageous decisions that reflect knowing how to re-create a strong alliance between man and the earth." On 7 September, he said there was a "pressing need for science and religion to work together to safeguard the gifts of nature and to promote responsible stewardship."

Hat tip: James Dellinger.

If the media were consistent in believing in separation of church and state, we'd see some complaints like these MRC found in the coverage of a 1994 world conference on "overpopulation." At that conference, the Vatican stood as a strong opponent of contraceptives and abortion, the solution being proferred by extreme environmentalists. For this it was condemned by the American press, in other words, a total opposite of today where the Catholic church is being hailed for its religious opinions.

An excerpt from the study:

On September 2, "CNN World News" anchor Bobbie Battista introduced coverage of the Cairo conference: "The Catholic Church is unflinching in its opposition to birth control and abortion. But when a new CNN/Time Magazine poll asked U.S. Catholics if they should always obey those Church teachings, 80 percent said no. Fewer than a quarter of those polled believe artificial means of birth control are wrong. And the attitudes of U.S. Catholics closely match those of the general population." As Newsweek religion reporter Kenneth Woodward has pointed out, "If you include only the people who've been to church at least once in the last month, they're far more open and receptive to what the church teaches." [...]

The Catholic Church also drew disdain from the networks for "distracting" the Cairo conference with their anti-abortion stance. Citing a "nasty fight" between President Clinton and the Pope, Martha Teichner remarked on September 3: "The security in effect for the U.N. Population Conference in Cairo is the kind used to prevent aircraft hijackings. But so far, the only hijacking taking place is of the agenda."

ABC repeatedly demonstrated a hostility to religious objections to the U.N. consensus. On September 4, Jim Bitterman hailed Al Gore's arrival in Cairo as a hero pitted against punitive religious forces:

"Not the threat of Muslim violence, not the wrath of Christian leaders at home and abroad, not even heel surgery could keep Vice-President Gore from leading the U.S. delegation at the Cairo population conference....No further than just outside the conference halls, even modest Western-style efforts like this television ad campaign to sell family planning, sometimes run headlong into religious and cultural opposition. But the real world just outside is proof too of the reason for a conference such as this."

Three days later, Peter Jennings announced: "In Cairo, the Pope's representatives are causing tempers to flare at the World Population Conference as the Vatican holds to its uncompromising position on abortion. ABC's Jim Bittermann reports from there that what on the surface appears to be a debate over a few words has badly distracted from the conference's overall mission."

Bitterman reported: "Vatican representatives at the population conference were today being cast in the role of spoiler, their stubborn style angering fellow delegates....And delegates weren't the only ones frustrated. Thousands of activists who came here to push causes from the environment to women's rights, have been ignored as the representatives from 182 nations spend their time and energy debating the abortion issue."

On NBC's "Today" show September 6, correspondent Tom Aspell cast the controversy as "Third World conservative countries against those in the West favoring free choice for women."

On the whole, the networks spent less time explaining religious objections to the conference than they did explaining the secular beliefs of the environmentalist left of an approaching doom of overpopulation. In light of this doom-laden scenario, the networks cast theological opposition to abortion at Cairo as a disturbing and rigid inconvenience.

Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013