2,000 years ago, there was no room for Mary and Joseph at the inn in Bethlehem. Fittingly enough, in the past two years, there was no room for their baby at the network evening news shows. Every year, millions of Americans celebrate the most important Christian holiday by reflecting upon the significance of the birth of Christ. Families attend church, count blessings and exchange gifts, and yet the evening news broadcasts for ABC, CBS and NBC almost completely ignored these religious traditions by leaving Christ and God out of Christmas.
Two years of Christmas coverage on three networks produced a scant 1.3 percent of stories mentioning the deity. The true message of Christmas, the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ, has simply been ignored by the mainstream media.
Frank Rich’s Sunday column for the New York Times, “Gay Bashing at the Smithsonian,” on the removal of a video from the “Hide/Seek” show of gay artists sponsored by the federally funded museum, was even more melodramatically offended (and offensive to Christian conservatives) than Arts critic Holland Cotter’s Saturday anguish.
After a video that included an 11-second clip of ants crawling over a crucifix was removed from the show for being offensive to Christians, it was inevitable that Rich, an enthusiastic defender of gay art (the artist who made the video, David Wojnarowicz, died of AIDS in 1992), would offer a fulminating defense.
By Rich's own description, the "Hide/Seek" clip showed a crucifix “besieged by ants that evoke frantic souls scurrying in panic as a seemingly impassive God looked on."
“Fire in My Belly” was removed from the exhibit by the National Portrait Gallery some 10 days ago with the full approval, if not instigation, of its parent institution, the Smithsonian. (The censored version of “Hide/Seek” is still scheduled to run through Feb. 13.) The incident is chilling because it suggests that even in a time of huge progress in gay civil rights, homophobia remains among the last permissible bigotries in America. “Think anti-gay bullying is just for kids? Ask the Smithsonian,” wrote The Los Angeles Times’s art critic, Christopher Knight, last week. One might add: Think anti-gay bullying is just for small-town America? Look at the nation’s capital.
Liberal newspapers may claim that taxpayer-funded art galleries should take “public sensitivities” into account, but in reality, they don’t want members of Congress actually representing the insulted public by speaking out against anti-Christian exhibits.
Friday’s Washington Post led their editorial page with the headline “The censors arrive: Do Republicans really want to ride into power with a burst of small-minded intolerance?” That’s funny: Christians might find the “small-minded intolerance” coming from artists who think that modern-day Christianity is an oppressive, Jesus-betraying force – as represented by ants crawling all over Jesus on a crucifix. Here’s the key passage:
Public sensibilities must be taken into account when taxpayer funds are in play, but the use of public dollars does not give lawmakers the right to micromanage or censor displays. Nor should the occasional dust-up be justification for threatened retribution against these valuable national assets. We hope Mr. Cantor's threats prompt many additional Washingtonians to visit the exhibit and judge for themselves.
The curator elites at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery were happily abusing the trust of the American taxpayer, with radical gay activists pushing a gay agenda, replete with the religiously bigoted, sadomasochistic and homoerotic fare, all under the auspices of “art.” Then something happened. The public complained. Now these radicals are shocked – shocked! – that the “censors” are out to destroy their “artistic freedom.”
It’s like a bad rendition of “Groundhog Day.” How many times must we relive this foolishness?
The sponsors tell us that “Hide/Seek” is “the first major exhibition to examine the influence of gay and lesbian artists in creating modern American portraiture," and how these gay and lesbian artists have made “essential contributions to both the art of portraiture and to the creation of modern American culture."
But that isn’t enough. Theirs is a political message as part of a political agenda. To quote from their program, they want to strike a blow for “the struggle for justice, so that people and groups can claim their full inheritance in America’s promise of equality, inclusion, and social dignity.”
This is the sixth year I have looked into how the media treats these two topics: The use of "Christmas shopping season" vs. "holiday shopping season," and the frequency of Christmas and holiday layoff references.
I have done three sets of simple Google News searches each year -- the first in late November, followed by identical searches roughly two and four weeks later.
A graphic containing key results from the past five years is here.
The results of this year's first set of searches, done at roughly 3:00 p.m. this afternoon, largely reinforce the trends noted last year:
Apparently the sophomoric folks at Newsweek are getting a bit giddy during the short work week leading up to Thanksgiving.
To accompany David Graham's November 23 The Gaggle blog post, Newsweek editors included a photo manipulation featuring the face of Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) on the body of Adam in Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam"
The photoshop was inspired by a March 2009 comment Shimkus made that reflects his religious beliefs, a comment that Graham apparently finds suitable for mockery and as evidence that Shimkus would be a poor choice to chair a committee that might deal with climate change-related issues and legislation:
The media is practically falling over themselves with a report, propagated in part by the flimsy Nicole Winfield of the Associated Press, that Pope Benedict XVI has "justified" the use of condoms. (See this enormous (and misleading) headline at HuffPo, for example.) But is it true? In a word, no. Nowhere in his remarks does the Pope talk about "justifying" anything.
Rev. Joseph Fessio is the editor-in-chief of Ignatius Press, which is publishing the interview book Light of the World, from which the Pope's notable remarks are gleaned. Fr. Fessio is quoted in the New York Times, "It would be wrong to say, 'Pope Approves Condoms.' He's saying it's immoral, but in an individual case the use of a condom could be an awakening to someone that he's got to be more conscious of his actions."
Dr. Janet E. Smith at Catholic World Report has an excellent explanation of the Pope's remarks. She also provides the actual interview exchange from the upcoming book.
ABC's "The View" hosted pastor Joel Osteen Tuesday, author of the book The Christmas Spirit – but the conversation took a controversial turn and went from Christmas to homosexuality. Co-host Joy Behar belittled Osteen about his conservative Christian beliefs on the matter.
ABC's Barbara Walters first popped the question in the middle of the interview, flagging it was a "controversial" topic. She referenced a previous quote made by Osteen on the show about homosexuality not being "God's best" for a person's life. Walters asked him how he felt about a Georgia pastor who recently came out and said he was gay.
After Osteen's tepid response, Behar interrupted him and flatly lectured him that homosexuality is natural. "It's not a choice, Pastor," she asserted. "It's not a choice, and therefore I don't think that God would look askance at homosexuality in that way, because it's not a choice. They're born this way, people are born this way."
Juan Williams's firing from National Public Radio (NPR) earlier this week was not only animated in part by the liberal George Soros-backed radio network's disdain of Fox News, it also reeks of a double standard, NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell told viewers of Friday's "Fox & Friends" program.
"If [Juan Williams] had said those words on the Charlie Rose show, it would have been seen as provocative or thoughtful.... This is the same network that featured Nina Totenberg hoping that Senator Jesse Helms would die or one of his grandchildren would die of AIDS because of his position on gay rights and nothing ever happened to her."
At times, the Internet can be an information wonderland. At others, it is more like a landfill where people go to dump their poorly crafted opinions labeled as fact. Take this quote for example:
"It's a fact that gay teenagers are about thirty percent more likely than straight teenagers to take their own lives. It's a fact that the vast majority of Christians believe that being gay is a profound moral failing, a foul aberration, a repelling, unnatural offense against God that fully warrants as punishment an eternity spent in hell. Asserting that those two facts have no relationship cannot possibly be anything but intellectually dishonest."
This quote comes from the personal blog of John Shore, contributor to the Huffington Post, which linked to the entry in question. He writes primarily on Christianity and operates under the mantra "Trying God's patience since 1958."
His statements are pretty compelling to the uncritical reader. Unfortunately for Shore, he is the one being "intellectually dishonest." His argument is built upon false premises. Just because two aspects have a common bond does not necessarily translate into a causal relation.
This Halloween, millions of Americans will dress up in costumes and pretend to be celebrities or other important figures. Most journalists won't take serious note of this. Yet recently a few women have slipped into some vestments and claimed that they're "women Catholic priests," and writers at Time magazine think there is some sober journalism to pursue.
For the second time in two weeks, Time has published an article trumpeting women who are pretending to be genuine Catholic priests. As we noted last week, Dawn Reiss was the culprit in a flimsy piece. Now the bleary-eyed Tim Padgett is in on the act.
The National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association was formed to "foster fair and accurate coverage" of gay issues, but their journalistic ideals do not include balance in any way. "Fair" coverage, to them, excludes dissent. On their official Re:Act blog, Michael Triplett, a Washington reporter for the Bureau of National Affairs and NLGJA vice president for print and new media, rejoiced that, in the wake of teen suicides like Tyler Clementi's, the media has realized this is no time for religious conservatives to speak:
What’s good about the coverage is that journalists haven’t fallen into the unfortunate habit of feeling like they need to interview opposing voices. Maybe because it’s about bullying and not just LGBT issues, the stories have been blissfully free of “crazy minister” interviews or the need to include someone from Focus on the Family or Family Research Council to provide a countering voice.
There are, for sure, voices out there who are opposed to including anti-homophobia information in anti-bullying training in schools. But now isn’t necessarily the time for those voices to be used as a counterweight. We can all agree that suicide is bad and kids being bullied is bad and broadcasting an 18-year old kissing another boy on the Internet is bad. That doesn’t require a dissenting voice.
Are religious leaders, conservative activists, and Jim DeMint responsible for the deaths of gay teenagers? That's the impression left by Kathy Griffin, Wanda Sykes, and Lance Bass, in an extensive interview on the October 4 "Larry King Live."
Focusing on the slew of gay teens who have committed suicide in the past week as a result of bullying, the panel of gay rights activists spewed offensive bile toward preachers of traditional social values.
"The blood is on their hands," decried Griffin, referring to the bullies who abused the gay teenagers, and religious leaders and political figures who oppose gay marriage and the repeal of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.
Earlier in the show, Griffin implored viewers to see her ludicrous connection between conservative social policy and gay teen suicide:
It was only a matter of time before liberal gay rights activists would politicize the tragic suicide of a homosexual college student as an indictment of social conservatives opposed to their agenda.
MSNBC's Contessa Brewer on October 1 used carefully selected viewer emails to blame "religious kooks" for the death of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, who jumped off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate set-up a hidden camera in their dorm room and streamed live footage of the college freshman kissing a man.
At the top of the noon hour, Brewer posed the following question to viewers: "Are we likely to see more instances of gay-bashing because the issue of gay rights is now front and center?" The anchor-activist's loaded question produced predictable responses.
Appearing as a guest on Tuesday’s Joy Behar Show on HLN, comedian Bill Maher praised Jimmy Carter as "a better proponent of what Democrats actually believed in," and asserted that it was "fantastic" when Carter bragged about never taking military action against anyone during his tenure, as the HBO host complained about the modern day Democratic party. Maher: "He was a better proponent of what Democrats actually believed in. He was saying the other day, I heard him on 60 Minutes say that during his administration they never fired a shot, not a bullet, not a missile. He said, you know what, I thought, as the world's superpower, we had the obligation to be the peacemaker. I think that's fantastic. What a choice that would be for a voter because we don't have that kind of choice."
Host Behar complained: "And the tragedy is that Jimmy Carter has been vilified as the worst President in the United States history, practically, besides George W. Bush, of course, and it's really not very nice for people to say that."
During a discussion of Delaware Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell in which Maher took shots at her religious beliefs, he declared, "I need someone in the Senate who believes that global warming is real and the Earth is not 6,000 years old," leading Behar to add, "I know. It's true. I mean, maybe they should be given an IQ test before they can even run."
Maher also voiced support for raising taxes on the wealthy, claiming that increased taxes "healed" the economy in the 1990s. Attacking the credibility of supply-side economic theory, he dismissed the benefits of cutting taxes on the wealthy as he declared that the wealthy would use their money to purchase more boats, seemingly oblivious to the fact that middle class people build boats and therefore benefit financially when they are purchased by the wealthy. Maher:
As the actor Richard Tillman – brother of former Army Ranger and former NFL player Pat Tillman – appeared as a guest on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday promoting the film "The Tillman Story" about his brother’s death in Afghanistan, host Maher played a clip from Pat Tillman’s funeral in which Richard Tillman mocked the religious references made at the funeral by speakers Maria Shriver and John McCain. Maher went on to praise Richard Tillman as having "a lot of balls" for his words as there was also moderate applause from the audience.
Maher set up the clip: "But, you know, they had Maria Shriver and John McCain... Speaking there, and Maria said, "Pat, you are home. You are safe." And McCain said, "You will see Pat again when a loving God reunites us all with our loved ones."
Then came a clip of Richard Tillman speaking at the funeral while nearly crying: "Thank you for coming. Pat’s a f------ champion and always will be. Just make a mistake, he’d want me to say this. He’s not with God. He’s f------ dead. He’s not religious. So thanks for your thoughts, but he’s f------ dead."
After applause from the audience, Maher responded, "That’s a lot of balls, my friend."
While discussing sex allegations against Bishop Eddie Long on Friday, MSNBC host and gay rights activist Contessa Brewer asked Bishop James Dean Adams: "Long has taken a very strong anti-homosexual stand....Is there always a danger, if you're taking that sort of stand, that you're living in a glass house and people are going to be encouraged to throw stones?"
Brewer described how "the Southern Poverty Law Center calls Bishop Eddie Long 'one of the most virulently homophobic black leaders in the religiously based anti-gay moment. Long reportedly told his congregation about homosexuals, he said, God says you deserve death.'" The left-wing organization spliced together that comment and other clips of Long's Sermons on its website.
Brewer used Long's comments to go after Bishop Adams: "I mean, you can't support that, do you? The saying that homosexuals deserve death?" Adams replied: "No. I don't say that homosexuals or anybody, for that matter, deserves death." Brewer continued: "Do you think, in any way, Bishop, this will change the way black churches deal with the issue of homosexuality?" Adams explained: "I disagree with the viewpoint that the church is somehow been purposefully anti-gay. It's not about anti-gay. It's just simply anti-sin."
The Huffington Post would like to present itself as an oasis of religious tolerance. When they started their Religion section, Arianna Huffington decried that "all too often, when talking about it, we end up talking at each other instead of with each other." Weeks ago, they published Nida Khan lamenting conservative Islamophobia, as "a vocal minority of extremists to capitalize and advance on their bigotry and xenophobia." The writer cited Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, Rick Lazio and Peter King. That was one of many Huff-Po pieces feeling the pain of American Muslims, victims of vicious midterm politics.
But that same Huffington Post doesn't mind promoting "Rome-o-phobia," vile anti-Catholic screeds from bigoted leftists that just happened to enjoy ripping up a picture of Pope John Paul on national TV. Arianna Huffington published Sinead O'Connor's "An Open Letter to the Pope," carrying flagrantly false statements, such as "not one member of The Vatican has publicly displayed an iota of humility over this issue. Instead each person who has spoken has done so most arrogantly and dismissively."
Comedian Joy Behar repeated her 'View' tirade against Christine O'Donnell on her eponymous HLN network program yesterday, denouncing the Delaware Republican Senate nominee as "crazy" and suggesting she should see a psychotherapist.
"You know, I'm not a shrink, but this is the crazy train this girl is on," chortled Behar, who also belittled O'Donnell on ABC's "The View" yesterday. After maligning O'Donnell's character, Behar suggested the social conservative could benefit from therapy: "I believe in psychotherapy. Maybe she should go to a shrink."
Behar's guest, psychotherapist Robi Ludwig, did not take the bait: "I don't know that much about her. But we also need to allow people to change as they grow. Express themselves when they're young, make mistakes and change their point of view. Do we really think that she's into witchcraft? I don't really buy it."
Reporting on Pope Benedict's visit to the UK on Friday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Mark Phillips noted how 65,000 people attended a Thursday outdoor mass in Scotland, but observed: "...it was only about a quarter of the size of the crowd Pope John Paul drew to the same park on his visit 28 years ago. And this crowd had a much better warm-up act...TV talent show star...Susan Boyle."
On Thursday, correspondent Richard Roth touted low turnout predictions during the Papal visit: "Some Church officials this morning were already lowering expectations, saying seats were still unsold for several outdoor events."
Phillips described the trip as "A test of whether Pope Benedict can get his message across over the background noise of the Church's child abuse scandal. And that test gets harder as time goes on." He went on to observe "This Pope finds himself with an ironic challenge, he bemoans the weakening role of religion in everyday life, yet it is the Church's very own public struggle with its child-molesting priests that is helping to drive people away."
MSNBC's Contessa Brewer mocked attendees of the Values Voter Summit today, directing her ire at former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, Delaware Republican Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell, and the entire conservative movement.
"So, they're calling themselves values voters, but isn't this election really about the economy and not so much what we think of as values?" sniveled Brewer, who put air quotes around the term "values." Brewer's dismissive attitude toward values voters must not extend to homosexual rights activists like herself who frequently turn their anchor chairs into liberal soapboxes.
The champion of same-sex marriage revealed her disdain for Palin by noting that although the former Alaska governor was not present at the event, "her doppleganger, Christine O'Donnell is there and she is stealing the show."
At the top of Thursday's CBS Early Show, fill-in co-host Erica Hill teased a report on Pope Benedict's visit to Scotland: "...it's a rather controversial visit for a number of reasons." Later, correspondent Richard Roth proclaimed the state visit "has more pomp and potentially more problems" and would "bound to be shadowed by controversy along with ceremony."
Roth went on to tout a gaffe made by a Papal aide prior to the trip and noted how the Pope "courts criticism on a range of issues, from the visit's cost – figured at around $20 million – to the cover-up of sex abuse among Catholic clergyman." He also highlighted predictions of low turnouts at Papal events during the visit: "[Benedict's] welcome will be measured, in part, by the size of his crowds. Some Church officials this morning were already lowering expectations, saying seats were still unsold for several outdoor events." In fact, about 125,00 people lined the streets of Edinburgh to see the Pope's motorcade, with 65,000 attending a later outdoor mass.
The only positive comment about the Papal visit was a sound bite of Queen Elizabeth welcoming the Pontiff: "On behalf of the people of the United Kingdom, I wish you a most fruitful and memorable visit." Roth concluded his report this way: "This is a country with a strong anti-clerical streak and a critical press. But, one leading paper's comment here that Benedict's 'entering the lion's den,' may also reflect a flare for dramatic overstatement."
Comedian Bill Maher took his anti-religion, anti-conservative views off HBO and into the mainstream Sept. 13 during an appearance on NBC's "Tonight Show." Maher told host Jay Leno he's against the Ground Zero Mosque, because he's "against a mosque anywhere. I'm against a church anywhere, or a Hindu temple or a synagogue."
Maher declared that houses of worship are "places that people go to retell nonsense stories from a time before men understood what a germ or an atom was, or where the sun went at night. They try to telepathically communicate with their imaginary friend. These are places that fleece people, and scare people and they perpetuate mass delusion. We shouldn't build any of them."
But Maher conceded that because the First Amendment protects freedom of religion, "they should be able to build them anywhere."
He also attacked conservatives and Sarah Palin, calling her an "evil dingbat."
Appearing as a guest on Saturday’s Huckabee show on FNC, actor Jon Voight condemned Time magazine for the cover on its September 13 issue which provocatively displays the words "Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace" in the middle of a Star of David made from daisies. Voight charged that there must be anti-Semitism at Time magazine if such a cover could be devised. Voight:
Listen, if Israel falls we all fall. Did you see the Time magazine, did you guys see the Time magazine cover? Cover? It was amazing. Here's a cover with a Star of David on it, and it says Israel doesn't care about peace. ... But this is anti-Semitism. This is, who are the anti-Semites who are running Time magazine? And their prior cover, you know, they alluded to the Islamophobia, they're calling America Islamophobic.
As previously documented by NewsBusters, Time managing editor Richard Stengel bizarrely seemed to see a down side to fewer terrorist attacks against Israelis when he appeared on the Thursday, September 2, Morning Joe on MSNBC, as he suggested that it was a "sad truth" that the low level of recent violence from terrorists -- including the "Hamas folks" -- had made Israelis feel less urgency about negotiating with Palestinians. Stengel:
As liberals tumble over each other extending apologies to Muslims for any American that would even whisper idly about burning a Koran, they should start apologizing for the Daily Kos. On Friday night came a plea from the atheist blogger "qinkilla" to burn all the religious texts, to keep people warm:
I am fine with the Koran being burnt, but only if the Bible and the Torah and any other religious document is included in the prodigious torching. If you've watched the Denzel Washington movie "The Book of Eli" you'd probably think that a braille copy of the Bible could save humanity. Well, in this country, we've got one of 'em in just about every hotel and motel room - and things just aren't getting better.
I believe sans religion, we'll all be better off....So here's my plan. We spend the next month gathering up all the religious documents in the world -- after all, it's time to let the invisible man go - and we allocate them to cold places, so they can be burned for a good cause...heat.
As the ninth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, and Americans fret about a Pastor they never heard of burning Korans to commemorate the event, people on both sides of the political aisle should be asking a serious question: did the media negligently create this controversy?
After all, Terry Jones has a tiny, 50 member, non-denominational church in Gainesville, Florida.
Should some unknown Pastor - with a following smaller than what's normally in line at an In-n-Out restaurant drive-thru! - wanting to burn Korans generate such a media firestorm that an international incident and our national security are threatened?
As Mike Thomas of the Orlando Sentinel wrote Wednesday, if you knew the real attention-getting background of Jones, the answer would be a definitive "No":
On Tuesday's Situation Room, CNN's Jack Cafferty revisited one of his favorite subjects of ire, the Catholic Church, and this time called for the ordination of women. Cafferty highlighted the advertising campaign of a British organization which demands that Pope Benedict XVI allow for such simulations of ordination, and mocked a Catholic priest's defense of the all-male priesthood.
The commentator devoted his 6 pm Eastern hour Cafferty File segment to the issue of women's ordination: "'Pope Benedict: ordain women now'- that's the message that will be plastered on London buses when the pontiff heads to England's capital in a couple of weeks. A group called Catholic Women's Ordination is spending $15,000 for 15 buses to carry posters with that message around London for a month."
Cafferty then moved to the opposing viewpoint, and wasted little time before bashing it and one of its defenders: "Father Stephen Wang says women are not barred from the priesthood because of sexism....Wang says that Jesus chose 12 men, and no women, to be his apostles, and he adds that men and women are equal in Christianity, but that gender still matters. Wang compares the role of a priest to an actor, saying no one would be surprised if he wanted a male actor to play King Arthur. He then admits the analogy is weak. That's the most startling and profound thing he said in the message so far- terrible!"