NBCNews.com, LA Times Inveigh Against Pulpit Politicking -- But Only When It's For Romney

William Donohue of the Catholic League noted that liberal journalists at NBCNews.com and the Los Angeles Times have expressed outrage at conservative pastors and priests urging their flock to vote for Romney, and are pushing the IRS to put a stop to it.

But he also noted the Pew Research Center released a study on Halloween that found that some reporters and editorial writers with a liberal bias were overlooking the IRS-baiting black Protestant ministers favoring Obama from the pulpit:

Black Protestants are twice as likely as churchgoers overall to be hearing about the candidates at church. Among regular churchgoers, four-in-ten (40%) black Protestants say their clergy have spoken directly about the candidates, compared with 17% of white Catholics, 12% of white evangelicals and just 5% of white mainline Protestants.

Nearly half (45%) of black Protestant churchgoers say the messages they hear at church favor a candidate, and every one of those says the message favors Obama.

The Los Angeles Times listed only Billy Graham (for taking Mormons off a list of cults) and two outspoken conservative Catholic bishops in its complaint, then added:

Some would argue that it's futile for the IRS to try to police political activity by churches. We disagree. The IRS can and should investigate accusations of blatant partisanship, such as a church bulletin that endorses a candidate by name or the sign outside a Texas church that reportedly advised: “Vote for the Mormon, not the Muslim! The capitalist, not the communist!”

That neatly matches a press release from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State protesting one church sign in Leakey, Texas (population 387).

M. Alex Johnson at NBCNews.com focused in on “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” where conservative evangelicals dared to endorse Romney, daring the IRS to take action. Johnson was pestering the IRS to get involved. “Noting that it's barred by law from discussing individual tax cases, the IRS declined NBC News' request for documentation showing that it has taken any action against politicking from the pulpit since then.”

Johnson was only concerned about conservative Christians with Reaganite ties ruining church-state separation:

Also of concern to some religious leaders is the alliance leadership's connections to conservative organizations and causes: Its president, Alan Sears, was director of Attorney General Edwin Meese's Commission on Pornography during the Reagan administration, and other board members represent the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, the anti-abortion activist group Susan B. Anthony List and the conservative evangelical ministry Focus on the Family.

Pulpit Freedom Sunday itself was similarly overwhelmingly Christian, with an emphasis on evangelicalism. Working from a list of ministries that signed up in advance, NBC News tabulated that 98 percent were evangelical or otherwise Protestant ministries.

Then Johnson turned to liberal activist Barry Lynn, whose primary objective is separating the Christian right from political activities:

The Rev. Barry Lynn, a minister in President Barack Obama's United Church of Christ and executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said the Alliance Defending Freedom was hiding behind "a fiction that there's a war against Christianity." The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., he said, managed to preach about politics almost every day of his adult life without ever endorsing a political candidate.

"It's time to get serious about this, because we could end up with a corruption not only of the political process but of the integrity of the genuine prophetic message of churches," Lynn said in a recent interview on State of Belief Radio.

If that's the case, isn't every pro-Obama preacher corrupt, and spitting on the grave of King? Johnson did not note that "Reverend" Lynn is mistaken about  the black churches and Obama endorsements. In September, he told The Christian Post that "predominantly African-American churches are no more likely to engage in illegal electioneering than predominantly white churches."

Lynn filed a complaint with the IRS about Catholic Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Illinois, even as he admitted the bishop never told his flock to vote against Obama. Meanwhile, black Protestants are hearing their ministers favor Obama explicitly. Did NBC ask Lynn how many of them he's complained about to the IRS this year?

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis