Mollie at the Get Religion blog reports that the Obama campaign is circulating a pamphlet in Kentucky with Barack Obama standing in the pulpit with a gleaming cross behind him, and she wonders where all the media fuss is, compared to the hoots and hollers when Mike Huckabee put a slightly subliminal cross image in one ad and said he was a "Christian Leader" in another. On Thursday, the Washington Post ran a brief item:
The pamphlet has circulated in other primary states and is striking for its overt appeal on religion. The words across the top read “Faith. Hope. Change.” Obama is pictured at a church pulpit, with a large illuminated cross in the background. A quote at the bottom reads: “My faith teaches me that I can sit in church and pray all I want, but I won’t be fulfilling God’s will unless I go out and do the Lord’s work.”
Post reporter Shailagh Murray mentioned the campaign is seeking "to counteract the persistent and false belief held by some voters that Obama is Muslim," and to avoid a loss as wide as the one in West Virginia. But she makes no mention of Trinity United Church of Christ or Jeremiah Wright.
That's where the Wright issue really becomes a problem for Obama and the Democrats. The more Obama stresses his self-proclaimed devout Christianity, the more critics can question exactly what kind of creed he was soaking up in Wright's pews at Trinity.
Mollie also quotes from Joseph Gerth of the Louisville Courier-Journal:
Scott Jennings, a Louisville-based political consultant, said Obama’s campaign may be reacting to concerns about so-called faith voters.
Jennings said he suspects that the campaign was forced to focus on religion by the controversy over comments made by Obama’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright; e-mail chains that claim erroneously that Obama is a Muslim; and comments made by Obama that “bitter” people in Pennsylvania were clinging “to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them â€¦ as a way to explain their frustrations.
“He’s clearly got polling that shows something is running through the Democratic voters in West Virginia and Kentucky that they are losing control of, and unless they can fix it, they can’t compete here,” Jennings said.
To which Mollie replies:
So polling shows “something” is bothering voters that will be remedied by elevating his Christian credentials. Perhaps the next story can explain what that “something” is. What’s more, not a single one of these non-analysis stories has any quotes from people critical of the religiosity of the ads. They describe the ads as “startling” but they don’t back it up with a discussion of why. They mention that pundits and bloggers are critical but they don’t talk to any of them. It seems that conflict might be a good thing to include in a story.
This is a consistent and partisan bias on the part of the media. They overreacted in 2000 when George W. Bush cited Jesus as his favorite philosopher, citing the offense that would be taken by the atheists and Jews and Muslims. So why wouldn't they have the same reaction to an overtly Christian pamphlet by Obama? It's either partisanship, or a confidence in the belief that Obama's just engaging in a cagey tactic, while Bush was a sincere and scary Bible-thumper, a budding theocrat.