It’s not a cartoon of a turban-shaped bomb, and probably nobody will threaten violence over it, but members of a religion are outraged over a depiction, and the networks aren’t interested. Only Fox News covered the story about a blasphemous condom advertisement.
Catholics and Protestants alike are furious over a flier that appeared on the University of Georgia campus displaying the famous Michelangelo painting of God reaching out to touch Adam’s hand. The fliers included a condom between God and Adams’ fingers, accompanied by the text, “Condom Tip #5: Carefully open condom wrappers with your fingers- don’t use a sharp object.” The fliers were posted around campus as a promotion for the university’s Sexual Responsibility Week.
The Washington Post's Weekend section on Friday included an interview with left-wing actor Ed Asner in advance of his appearance at nearby George Mason University playing William Jennings Bryan, "the infamous attacker of Darwinism and evolution." Or so says his Post interviewer, Michael O'Sullivan. Conservatives are killing America, Asner proclaimed:
"Our education has just gone into the toilet in this country," Asner says, before fulminating in a way that begins to sound a little bit like, well, a more liberal version of Bryan. "Having suffered, from the time of Reagan until now, with onslaughts against government daubing at improving the welfare of American citizens, and the education and health of American citizens, the anti-government forces have struck, perhaps, mortal blows to our society."
It was 69-year-old Carole Dunham’s last request: she would like to “be a home for fish.” That’s right; she wanted her remains to construct an artificial, underwater reef.
Valerie Streit, of CNN, wrote an article highlighting the Green Burial Council, a nonprofit organization that accommodates the last wishes of those who desire to minimize their final carbon footprint. Streit quotes only the eco-friendly death-care providers, ignoring any who might be oppose this particular type of “burial.”
Streit writes that while dying may be very natural, modern burying rituals such as “formaldehyde-based solutions” and “concrete vaults” are not at all “nature-friendly.” The Green Burial Council's executive director Joe Sehee supported the basis for Streit’s point by saying that “We can rebuild the Golden Gate Bridge with that amount of metal,” he said referring to Streit’s figure that the U.S. buries 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete, and 90,000 tons of steal each year. “The amount of concrete is enough to build a two-lane highway from New York to Detroit,” he said.
A discussion on The View on Wednesday about sin quickly devolved as the hosts reiterated common media myths about the Catholic Church and its teachings. Elisabeth Hasselbeck read a bogus list of seven “new” sins that the Vatican supposedly came up with, while Joy Behar misrepresented the Catholic Church’s teachings on papal infallibility. When Barbara Walters later asked what the “biggest sin” was, in their opinion, Behar and Whoopi Goldberg agreed that it was “intolerance.”
Goldberg began the discussion by bringing up how a “new study by the Vatican says that men and women sin differently. They said men are more likely to commit sins of lust and gluttony and sloth, and for women, it’s pride, envy, and anger.” She then prompted her co-hosts for their take on this. Barbara Walters joked, “Yeah. I mean, with men, it’s much more the sexual and the lust, and the women are angry that it’s much more the sexual and the lust....They cheat more.” It’s funny that the ABC veteran put it that way, since she admitted to having an affair with former Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke.
Update (13 Feb. | Ken Shepherd): Tomaso responds here, dismissing the notion that he exhibited any liberal bias. Commenters to his blog post are divided.
Condescending secular elitism isn’t just for the coasts anymore. It can even come from red state Texas.
On The Dallas Morning News’s Religion blog Feb. 12, Bruce Tomaso wrote a post called “Alabama and Iran Have Something in Common.” It stemmed from a recent Gallup poll that asked people around the world, “How important is religion in your daily life?” The poll found, among many other things, that nearly the same percentage of the population of Iran (83 percent) and Alabama (82 percent) said that religion was important to them.
Tomaso thought this was a riot: “Since I've never been to Iran and haven't spent enough time in Alabama to have a well-formed opinion, I refrain from cleverly drawing further comparisons,” he wrote. “But that doesn't mean you wiseakers can't!”
That's how Chicago Tribune religion blogger Manya Brachear began her Feb. 11 The Seeker blog post, practically considering the Pope to be another politician who must watch out for how his PR blunders affect his poll numbers (emphasis mine):
Shortly after Pope Benedict XVI quelled concerns last week regarding the excommunication of a Holocaust denier, he caused another stir closer to home. He reportedly tapped a bishop who once described Hurricane Katrina as God’s punishment for sin and debauchery in New Orleans.
According to the Times of London, Father Gerhard Maria Wagner, an ultraconservative parish priest at Windischgarsten in Austria, published his theory of divine retribution in his parish newsletter four years ago.
President Barack Obama's pick to head his faith-based initiative is a 26-year old former Pentecostal pastor by the name of Joshua DuBois. The media have largely noted DuBois's religious affiliation in a matter-of-fact manner.
In a Newsweek Web exclusive, Lisa Miller and Amanda Coyne set out to find something juicy about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's house of worship, Wasilla Bible Church. But finding a "staid" worship environment that "steer[s] clear of politics" and whose main attraction is Biblical preaching, they opted to focus on where the governor used to worship regularly years ago, an Assemblies of God church:
Pentecostalism is one of the fastest growing branches of Christianity in the world, and the Assemblies of God is one of the largest Pentecostal denominations in the country, claiming 1.6 million members. Pentecostals are generally characterized by a strict adherence to moral codes--no tobacco, no alcohol, no social dancing, no sex outside of marriage--and by their belief that the Holy Spirit bestows upon some the gift of "speaking in tongues," a reference to Acts 2: "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues." A spokeswoman for the McCain-Palin campaign has said that Palin attends many churches and does not consider herself to be Pentecostal.
Maddow explained how this provision had been in the bill for over 40 years, then played a portion of DeMint's speech on her Feb. 6 MSNBC show.
"Student's can't meet together in their dorms, if that dorm has been repaired with this federal money and have a prayer group or a Bible study," DeMint said in the clip Maddow played. "[S]omeone is so hostile to religion that they're willing to stand in the schoolhouse door like the infamous George Wallace to deny people of faith from entering any campus building renovated by this bill. This cannot stand."
As we've stated before, no one can challenge the awful harm wrecked upon youth at the hands of Catholic clergy. The harm is real, incredibly sad, and unspeakably damaging. But that is no excuse for the Los Angeles Times to continue its dishonest practice of false and misleading presentations on the narrative of Cardinal Roger Mahony and the Los Angeles Catholic Church abuse scandal.
Does anyone think that a major newspaper like the Los Angeles Times would ever allow a hateful and patently false anti-Semitic or anti-Muslim personal attack to be published in its letters to the editor? Of course not. But check out this whopper of anti-Catholic vitriol that is in the pages of the Times today (Mon. 2/2/09):
The Jesuits have a saying, "Give me the boy until he is 7, and I will give you the man." You can now add, "Give Adolf Hitler the boy until he is 7, and he will give you the pope."
As we reported a couple days ago, when a veteran middle-school teacher in nearby Santa Monica pleaded guilty last month to "multiple counts of illegal sex acts" and molesting nine young girls, the Los Angeles Times didn't print a single syllable about it in their paper. Not one. The teacher was sentenced to 14 years in state prison. Although the Times had reported the teacher's original arrest and some follow-up last May and June, the story of the teacher's guilty plea and sentencing only made it to the paper's blog.
Now look at the front page of today's Times' 'California' B section (Sat. 1/31/09). Prominently displayed on the top of the page are two color photos related to the sentencing yesterday (1/30/09) of a former Catholic priest.
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith played the role of amateur theologian as he interviewed disgraced evangelical pastor Ted Haggard, who had an affair with a gay prostitute, asking: "You believe that gays are sinners?...You think God hates homosexuals?" Haggard ultimately replied: "Jesus proved his faithfulness to me more than ever. You know, he said he came for the unrighteous, not for the righteous...so I don't fit into the religious righteous crowd anymore. He really came for me. I'm the chiefest of sinners." Haggard’s wife, Gayle, also added: "And I think the teachings of Jesus are forgiveness and love. And what he tells us not to do is judge." Smith liked that non-judgmental response, saying to Ted: " She says is better than you do, I'm sorry."
Throughout the segment, Smith preached moral relativism over "fundamentalist" Christian beliefs. At one point, Haggard explained why he waited so long to seek counseling: "I wish I'd done it 20 years ago, but I think the culture that I was in kept me from being able to do that." Smith replied:"Having grown up in a fundamentalist church and an evangelical background, there's -- everything is very black and white." Haggard agreed: "Very black and white." Smith then attacked Haggard’s former church: "You've spent your life building this church. This church is really, literally, your community. And your church says you have to leave this day...you have to go away. And in the best New Testament sense, isn't that the point at which the church should be embracing you?"
When a veteran middle-school teacher in nearby Santa Monica pleaded guilty last month to "multiple counts of illegal sex acts" and molesting nine young girls, the Los Angeles Times didn't feel the story warranted their newspaper. Although the Times had reported the teacher's original arrest and some follow-up last May and June, the news of teacher's guilty plea only went as far as the paper's blog.
Last November, a coordinator for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) filed a discrimination lawsuit against his employer. The suit included the astonishing charge that the district assigned a principal to a middle school even though it knew the guy had recently faced a molestation-related investigation. Within months of his new assignment, the principal was arrested and charged with molesting four students. Again, although the paper had reported other episodes of this particular narrative, the Times jettisoned the news of this stunning lawsuit to the paper's blog and never reported it in their actual paper.
NBC won’t accept “issue advocacy” commercials for its Super Bowl broadcast on Sunday, February 1. Apparently, the network that “went green” for an entire week last fall, and that did an environmental stunt on a football show the year before, wants to stay away from politics. Or maybe just some politics.
NBC has rejected an ad sponsored by the Catholic group Fidelis “after days of negotiation,” according to an article on LifeNews.com. The ad, which can be seen at the LifeNews site or on Fidelis’ Web site, shows an ultrasound image of a fetus while it tells of the hardships the child will face in life, only to become the first black U.S. president, Barack Obama. As Fidelis President Brian Burch told LifeNews, “There is nothing objectionable in this positive, life-affirming advertisement. We show a beautiful ultrasound, something NBC’s parent company GE has done for years."
NBC’s claim that it demurs from issue advertising rings particularly false in light of its recent rejection of a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals ad. The PETA ad, said the network, “depicts a level of sexuality exceeding our standards.” It was rejected as being to sexually suggestive, not because of its clear advocacy. And LifeNews reported that NBC had suggested edits to make the PETA spot acceptable.
Back in December, you may recall, slapped around a Catholic priest and parochial school principal for pulling an Obama book off the shelves out of concern that it may push values contrary to Catholic moral teachings. Tomaso quipped that at least the priest didn't conduct a book burning.
While she pronounced his prayer as a "good job" for being generally non-offensive and inclusive-sounding, Newsweek's Lisa Miller -- who earlier this month suggested ditching inaugural prayers altogether -- was nagged by the "lingering question" that "remains" from the way evangelical pastor Rick Warren closed his inauguration ceremony invocation in the name of Jesus:
Warren's conservative theology teaches him that there is one path to God, and that is Jesus. So when he wraps his great big arms around Muslims and Jews (and homosexuals), does he really believe there's hope for us? Or is he just being nice?
Miller, as a religion reporter, should know better. Yes -- the evangelical Christian would answer -- there is hope for everyone who puts his or her hope in Christ alone, and that's why preachers like Rick Warren preach the Gospel of salvation in Christ alone. They truly believe it, and as such, it's not nice to keep the good news of salvation and peace with God to one's self for fear of the niceness cops of the media world.
CBSSports.com columnist Gregg Doyel has had it with all the hero worship, the idolatry, the 'canonization' of the guy:
This one's going to hurt. It's going to hurt you, and it's going to hurt me..... It's directed at those who would beatify the man.... Because he's just a man.
No, he's not referring to President-elect Obama but rather Tim Tebow, the University of Florida quarterback who led the Gators to a national championship on January 8. Yet in his January 13 column, Doyel went from waging a legitimate complaint about excessive hero worship to hashing out liberal talking points regarding the open practice of faith by Christian athletes (emphasis mine, h/t NewsBusters commenter Blonde):
Invoking the threat of "religious fundamentalists abroad" and tacitly comparing them to religious conservatives in the United States, Newsweek's Lisa Miller advises President-elect Obama to ditch the practice of having clergy offer prayers at the presidential inauguration:
Our new president might use his Inauguration then to showcase the values that have made this country great: pluralism, moderation—and the separation of church and state. Though not as politically expedient, the better choice might be to pray in private.
Miller wrote her article for the January 19 print edition in light of a lawsuit "filed by the atheist gadfly Michael Newdow." While she noted that "[e]ven some of Newdow's ideological allies are steering clear," Miller went no further in exploring whether it may be Newdow who is showcasing a modern value that threatens the country's greatness: the filing of spurious lawsuits.
Instead, Miller sought to show that historians are uncertain just how traditional the role of religious faith plays in presidential inaugurals. Indeed, as far as Miller is concerned, the convention is all too recent and worse, a musty relic of the Cold War (emphases mine):
USA Today's religion reporter Cathy Lynn Grossman apparently has little use for Christian ministers who believe the Bible's teachings on sexual ethics.
Apparently already annoyed with evangelical pastor Rick Warren's stance on California's Proposition 8, Grossman took the California preacher to task for a letter offering use of his Saddleback Church to conservative Anglicans who have left the liberal Episcopal Church USA but were deprived of their church parish property due to a recent California court ruling (emphasis mine):
After sticking a fork in the eye of gay rights advocates by actively supporting Proposition 8 -- which overturned the legalization of gay marriage in California -- Warren compounded their outrage by equating gay marriage with incest in an interview with Beliefnet.
What do Bill Maher slamming Pope Benedict XVI as the criminal head of a pedophilia ring, Washington Post's Sally Quinn defending anti-American Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and Ted Turner founder prophesying environmental apocalypse have in common?
They are just three of the most outrageous quotes from the mainstream media in 2008 and were featured on the December 23 "O'Reilly Factor" in a segment with MRC's Director of Media Analysis Tim Graham.
You can view the segment in the embedded video at right.
Charlie Brown first asked in 1965, "Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?" Judging by the Christmas songs featured on the morning network shows during the 2008 Christmas season, his question is still relevant 43 years later.
Researchers at the Culture and Media Institute analyzed the songs artists performed during appearances on ABC’s "Good Morning America," NBC’s "Today," and CBS’ "The Early Show" between October 31 and Dec. 16 and found that only six out of the 22 Christmas songs performed on the morning shows had religious themes.
Performers on ABC failed to highlight religious carols but did offer viewers a dose of liberal politics disguised as Christmas cheer. Melissa Etheridge ("A New Thought for Christmas") sang her original song "Christmas in America" on the Dec. 16 broadcast while wearing a Barack Obama campaign symbol on her guitar strap. Lyrics of the song include:
In 2005, I sensed that journalists in general prefer to call this time of the year in commerce that of “holiday shopping” instead of “Christmas shopping,” but that when it came to people losing their jobs, they preferred to describe layoffs as relating to “Christmas.” My instincts have been proven correct during the past three years.
So did anything change in 2008?
Not that much, but slightly in the secular direction. Here are the overall results of various relevant Google News searches for the past four years (searches have been done three times each year -- just before Thanksgiving, about weeks later, and shortly before Christmas Day; this years Parts 1 and 2 are here and here, respectively; image courtesy of commenter "siouxcityranch" at Dr. BLT's Blog n Roll Studio):
Rev. Jeremiah Wright was a voice crying in the wilderness that the mainstream media and middle class America weren't quite ready for and megachurch pastor Rick Warren is an ignorant evangelical rube who isn't totally without hope, given his awareness of AIDS and other favored liberal causes.
An astonishing thing happened in Baghdad on Saturday: Christians, apparently for the first time in the city's history, publicly celebrated Christmas.
CNN's Jill Dougherty published an article about this extraordinary event at the network's website Sunday which included a video of her interviewing Iraqis of varied religious beliefs at the scene.
However, from what I can tell, this extremely charming report has not been aired yet by CNN television, nor has it gotten much coverage by other outlets here in America (video embedded below the fold, photo courtesy AFP via British Telegraph):
Tomaso noted that Fr. Ron Elliott describes himself as "very pro-life" but that after reviewing the books in question "he didn't find anything objectionable" and will hence return the books to the shelves "in February or March" as Elliott noted, "after the dust kind of settles."
At that point Tomaso couldn't refuse the impulse to add an editorial quip:
In his December 19 blog post, "You too can be a spiritual dilettante," Get Religion contributor Douglas LeBlanc shared his bemusement with self-admitted atheist Sally Quinn's helpful suggestions to Newsweek/Washington Post's "On Faith" readers about interfaith dialogue. LeBlanc noted that Quinn gave her readers this assignment:
Try a new faith (or non-faith) for one day. That exploration can include attending a different place of worship or an event hosted by another faith tradition, discussing faith with someone whose views differ from your own, or inviting someone of a different faith to experience yours.
Then come back to the site and tell us about your experience. What did you learn? What surprised you? What bothered you? What would you like to know more about? How did you experience with another faith impact your understanding of or appreciation for that faith or for your own? Take a picture and share that too.
That's when LeBlanc turned on the snark, lambasting Quinn as out of touch with religious Americans who most certainly are politely engaged in theological conversations with friends, family and neighbors on a regular basis (emphasis mine):
The baby Jesus is missing from many nativity scenes, and ABC’s “Good Morning America” makes fun of a church’s decision to install a GPS on their tiny savior. On Dec. 14, “Good Morning America” featured a story about churches fighting back against thieves who steal the baby Jesus from outdoor nativity scenes. Instead of seriously underscoring a pattern of crime, the network sent out a reporter to pilfer a wise man, and test the satellite tracking system, all while playing “spy” themed music.
When GMA anchors, Kate Snow and Bill Weir teased the upcoming story, they couldn’t contain their giggles. “We can't even say it without laughing,” said Snow. “But they're using GPS to track them down.” she quipped. “Baby Jesus LoJack,” snickered Weir.