NBC’s "Law & Order" programs are long-established and all over the schedule. But the sex-obsessed vice cops of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" are a breed apart. They exist to be socially provocative, which is to say, to rattle, to disturb. Viewers at home probably weren’t ready for the plot that aired on NBC on March 3. These script writers are so revolting that they become almost comical.
As you read what follows, you decided how closely this mirrors anything resembling the world of reality.
Someone was strangling prostitutes to death and leaving prayer cards behind. The first suspect was a perverted man whose wife proclaimed he had converted to Christianity and overcome his sinful ways. The cops quickly discovered the man dismissed his wife as a "prude" and he was cheating on her with a variety of young girls, because "it’s not a crime to want a little variety" in his sex life, including "toys, role play, and threesomes." Despite his ardor for sexual gunplay as well, this so-called Christian was not the strangler.
If anyone was looking for a self-righteous extreme feminist, they found one in Angie Jackson. This is a woman who was so proud she was aborting her baby that she announced she would "tweet" her chemical-cocktail abortion live, as it happened, on Twitter. The liberal media found this made-for-TV slaughter fascinating, and not at all a controversy worthy of discussing with two sides.
Newsweek’s Sarah Kliff proclaimed: "One hundred thousand people have watched Angie Jackson's abortion. Late last month, Jackson posted a video of herself to YouTube, recorded after she took RU-486, a medication used to end pregnancies." Kliff asked only "why shame remains" about the act of killing one’s baby. Jackson was honored for her courage in "demystifying" and "destigmatizing" the procedure: "We need 10,000 more of her," proclaimed Peg Johnston, chair of something called the Abortion Care Network. This desire for 10,000 more unashamed abortions is what "pro-choice" is all about.
Overall, this was just another classic tale from the "news" magazine that lamented 20 years ago that "Sadly, many home [abortion] remedies could damage a fetus instead of kill it." What about the pro-life side?
For some atheists, a person should not be honored for decades of humanitarian work if she also happens to be a professing Christian.
That's the only conclusion one can draw from the recent uproar of the Freedom From Religion Foundation over the U.S. Postal Service's commemorative stamp featuring 1979 Nobel Prize winner Mother Teresa.
"There's this knee jerk response that everything she did was humanitarian," griped FFRF spokeswoman Annie Laurie Gaylor, according to a Jan. 28 Fox News article. "And I think many people would differ that what she doing was to promote religion, and what she wanted to do was baptize people before they die, and that doesn't have a secular purpose for a stamp." She also asserted that this is part of the Roman Catholic "PR machine" to "make [Mother Teresa] a saint."
Just to clarify: the Church does not consider a commemorative stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service a necessary step to sainthood.
Lefty author Margaret Atwood has created, in the form of a novel, the environmentalist's bible. "The Year of the Flood", as it is titled, is not merely a figurative bible for a dispersed and sporadic collection of greenies, but rather a sacred testament (the author says as much) for a movement that, every day, looks more like a church--complete with sin, salvation, and saints (one of whom is--you guessed it--Al Gore).
In an interview with Atwood, National Public Radio's Steve Inskeep described "The Year of the Flood" as gloriously melding science and religion into a harmonious enviro-theology. Atwood "thinks that in the future we could see a religion that combines religion and science," Inskeep states.
But the more the listener learns about Atwood's novel, the more he or she realizes that the book does not meld science and religion. Rather, it does away with religion and replaces it with radical environmentalism. Here is an excerpt from the NPR interview (h/t CATO's David Boaz):
The headline writers of Washingtonpost.com ought to win an award for the dumbest question of December. In a sentence promoting their discussion board for "The Secularist’s Corner," they wrote: "One in four Americans believe in 'spiritual forces' like ghosts. Is belief in the supernatural unlike the traditional story of Christmas?"
Is the traditional nativity story of Jesus unlike the story of... Casper the Friendly Ghost? Is the writer here an adult?
The headline is also goofy: "Christmas ghosts abound." Susan Jacoby, the unbeliever who hosts "The Secularist’s Corner," didn’t ask this question in her discussion-starter. She did suggest that Americans will believe all kinds of nonsense. Her headline was "You name it, Americans believe it." As an atheist, she doesn’t see any contradiction in embracing Jesus and New Age beliefs. It's implied they’re equally wacky:
Actor Sam Elliott, who played the Texan aeronaut Lee Scoresby in the 2007 movie "The Golden Compass," has blamed the Catholic Church for scaring Hollywood away from creating a sequel.
"The Catholic Church happened to ‘The Golden Compass,' as far as I'm concerned," said Elliott in a Dec. 14 interview with the London Evening Standard.
Elliott claimed that the Church "lambasted" the company that produced "The Golden Compass," New Line Cinema, and "scared New Line off." Elliott was referring to the boycott organized by Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. The London Evening Standard quoted Donahue's reason for opposing the movie.
"The reason I protested was the deceitful attempt to introduce Christian children to the wonders of atheism in a backdoor fashion at Christmas time," said Donahue. "Everyone agrees the film version was not anti-Catholic, but that hardly resolves the issue. The fact is that each volume in the trilogy becomes increasingly anti-Catholic."
As the British columnist Peter Hitchens put it, Pullman's trilogy "depicts priests as evil and murderous, drunk and probably perverted, and the Church as ‘a conspiracy against happiness and kindness.'"
But can the Church truly be blamed (or cheered, depending on your point of view) for the failure of "The Golden Compass" in the box office?
Got an idealized notion of Christmas? A cherished memory, or a favorite carol or story? The simple smell of pine needles in your living room? Do you insist on celebrating the birth of the savior?
If so, you’re at war, like it or not.
The main war on Christmas – we’ll call it the conventional war – has been well-documented, and it goes on, with victories and defeats for both sides. In Loudoun County, Va. on Dec. 1, the Board of Supervisors reversed a ban on religious holiday displays on the courthouse lawn. (The one supervisor who voted “no” said, “I am concerned that this motion would turn the courthouse grounds into a public circus.”) Meanwhile, in Arizona, public school children remain unable to use Christmas themes when decorating ornaments for the Capitol Christmas tree.
There is plenty to report from the conventional front. But there are other fronts. There is the sexualization of the holiday, either in service to commercialism or out of the lefty arts community’s desire to be “transgressive” (read, vile and offensive). And there are the attempts squash the mysteries and magic that accompany even a traditional secular Christmas.
So from “living” lingerie mannequins to Frosty’s “porn collection,” and from the lies you tell about Santa to our president’s “non-religious” observance, here are some dispatches from the war on Christmas, 2009.
CNN correspondent Max Foster’s short report about Richard Dawkins on Tuesday’s Situation Room played more like a commercial which promoted the militant atheist’s new book. Despite Dawkins’s past inflammatory statements about Christianity, Foster only labeled him “an outspoken critic of creationism....[whose] atheist views have put him at the center of controversy” [audio clip available here].
Anchor Suzanne Malveaux’s introduction for the correspondent’s report highlighted the 150th anniversary of the printing of Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species,” and how Dawkins was a “controversial successor [to Darwin] carrying the torch for evolution.” Foster gave a very basic description of Dawkins’s career during his report, only mentioning his controversial stances only in passing. Video straight from the Richard Dawkins Foundation ran on-screen as Foster, an anchor for CNN’s sister network CNN International, gave his voice-over.
"For the record, our third story is neither ridiculing nor disputing [Sarah Palin's] religious beliefs. It is purely an attempt to discern exactly what those beliefs constitute, so that the voters of 2012 know exactly what they`re getting."
Such was amazingly uttered by MSNBC's Keith Olbermann Tuesday night.
Bear in mind that we are almost three years away from Election Day 2012, and most political analysts on both sides of the aisle don't believe former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is going to run for President then.
Regardless, the "Countdown" host actually spent over five minutes examining -- and, contrary to his assertion -- ridiculing her religious beliefs.
In fact, the disparagement began right from the get-go with how Olbermann described the object of his disaffection (video embedded below the fold with full transcript, h/t Story Balloon):
The New York Times's Maureen Dowd spent some time in Catholic school as a youth, but judging from her latest rant/column, she didn't learn too much about actual Catholicism.
Dowd's anti-Catholic screed reveals that of someone who knows almost nothing about the Catholic faith. She also deceives her readers about a number of topics, including a 2004 letter issued by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger before he became Pope Benedict XVI.
Reporting the lead story on CBS’s Sunday Morning, correspondent Martha Teichner touted a new on-line poll conducted by Parade magazine about religion in America: “nearly a quarter of the respondents call themselves spiritual, not religious. And how about this? Half the people polled say they seldom, if ever, attend religious services.”
One supposed religious expert Teichner spoke with about the poll findings was Barnard College professor and Episcopal priest Randall Balmer, who argued: “And so you have all these religious options out there and we Americans are good consumers.” Teichner asked: “So you’re saying that Americans choose their faith or their spirituality in very much the way they shop a mall.” Balmer replied: “I think they do.” In 2006, Balmer wrote Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America.
The Parade magazine cover story about the poll was written by Christine Wicker, author of The Fall of the Evangelical Nation. In addition, Wicker is also a contributing writer for the left-wing blog The Huffington Post. Just days prior to the 2008 presidential election, Wicker authored a post entitled “Evangelical Leaders Using God Like a Hired Gun,” in which she claimed: “They tried branding Obama the anti-Christ. They tried linking him with Islamic terrorists....They’ve used their pulpits to endorse McCain...None of these tactics has brought their errant minions under control. So using God like a hired gun to terrorize the town’s people, the evangelical Christian mullahs are declaring that Obamageddon is at hand.”
Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League, has said, "Penn & Teller's Nazi-like assault on Catholicism that took place on August 27 will go down in history as one of the most vile, obscene programs ever aired in any nation." However, will the show also go down in history for airing the most number of lies, falsehoods, and misleading statements in a single half-hour show?
Not counting credits, the guilty episode runs less than 26 minutes. Here's a lie-by-lie list of the falsehoods that Penn Jillette and his guests aired in that time:
1. Before he became Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, in 2001, issued a "confidential order to every bishop" and "ordered the cover-up" of sex abuse.
Here we are, just past the half-way mark in 2009, so I wanted to give you all a general business update, and let everybody know how things look from my chair.
So far, ’09 is on track to be one of our best years since they dismantled the Gulag, and it’s largely thanks to your hard work. The Che Guevera T-shirt sales continue to bring in revenue. While we took a hit when Madoff went out of business, Senator Dodd assures me that our other ventures are secure.
This year, several of our important client relationships have really blossomed. Hugo Chavez has come into his own as a world-class talent. (Hat-tip to Baal in Recruitment & Development: having Fidel mentor him was pure genius.) And several long-time clients have really stepped up to the plate: Kim, Putin and the mullahs are all on hot streaks.
We continue see residual up-side from the sliming of Sarah Palin last fall. (BTW – Astarte, send Katie Couric some more flowers. And that Purdum guy at Vanity Fair – find out if he likes cigars.)
What could move avowed atheist Bonnie Erbe to say something positive about religious enthusiasm? Here's a hint, the colors of the rainbow:
I walked into a huge church auditorium and there were thousands of gays and lesbians singing hymns and crying as they watched a gay pastor deliver a sermon, many of them for the first time. It was an extremely emotional experience.
Erbe, a contributing editor at U.S. News & World Report, shared this anecdote in a July 2 blog post entitled "Gays Aren't Necessarily Atheists," in which the journalist shared two experiences that blew apart her stereotype of openly gay people being atheists.
The Public Broadcasting Service recently announced it will not allow new religious programming on their taxpayer-subsidized airwaves. The handful of stations that have shown a Catholic Mass or Mormon devotions will be allowed to continue, but the other 300-plus stations have been instructed to avoid any kind of evangelism.
Welcome to Barack Obama’s new world order.
News reports explained that the PBS station services committee insisted on applying a 1985 rule that all PBS shows must be "noncommercial, nonpartisan and nonsectarian."
To everyone who’s watched a pledge drive or contemplated a toy store stuffed with "Sesame Street" toys, the idea that PBS is following any "noncommercial" policy is absurd.
To everyone who’s watched two minutes of "Bill Moyers Journal," with its panels unanimously screaming for Bush’s impeachment, or more recently, for a single-payer socialist health-care system, the idea of PBS being devoted to a "nonpartisan" stance is several miles removed from ridiculous.
Rob Thomas, singer/songwriter and front man for the band Matchbox 20, has successfully proven an old adage: Don't keep quiet and let people think you're a fool. Open your mouth and remove all doubt. He has also shown us all that the American system of education is in pretty sorry shape. But, one thing is sure, Mr. Thomas "feels good" about himself, so he's got that whole self esteem thing down nicely. Sadly, he lacks some basis for the conceit.
In a Huffington Post entry from May 27, Thomas made to ingratiate himself with the cool, the hip, and the terminally liberal by tooting his I-love-me-the-gay horn. Most of his entry is banal, uninventive, and prosaic, but the part that most needs to be addressed is his horrible understanding of American history. Of course, his lack of historical understanding is also pretty commonplace for his ilk: those in the Hollyweird/entertainment field. Unfortunately, it is also common among far too many other Americans, ones not trying to sound perpetually hip because they loves them the gays.
On Friday night’s Real Life with Bill Maher on HBO, the host typically assaulted the Bible and the God of the Old Testament. He said of the Bible and the Koran "These are two books that are filled with hatred and wickedness and all kinds of immorality. I mean, I can’t think of a character who is less reliable as a role model than the God of the Old Testament." Newsweek editor Jon Meacham could only respond with pandering humor for liberals: "He’s kind of Cheneyesque actually – that runs through the God of Abraham...He didn’t shoot anybody. He smited them."
As Maher suggested he was too bright to believe in Jesus the "Jewish Zombie," Meacham also lauded how America has moved beyond a "public piety," as symbolized by Mel Gibson’s 2004 film The Passion of the Christ. "It doesn’t feel to me that we’re in the same place in terms of public religiosity and public piety that we were when Mel Gibson released The Passion of The Christ five years ago, when basically, he made an anti-Semitic film, and the only thing you can say about it is it’s the best film ever made in Aramaic." Surprisingly, Maher said he liked the movie, and he didn’t find it anti-Semitic, but that "the priesthood" had Jesus killed because he threatened their power.
In addition to the anti-Catholicism present in the forthcoming release of "Angels & Demons", there's another politically correct element to the movie adaptation of the Dan Brown novel that's worth noting: Hollywood's aversion to portraying radical Muslims as the bad guys.
As millions of Christians attend church every Sunday without attracting much attention in the New York Times, it’s a little surprising to see it defined as front-page news when an "overflow audience of more than 100" showed up at an atheist event in South Carolina. "More Atheists Are Shouting It From the Rooftops" read the headline on Monday’s front page from religion reporter Laurie Goodstein. Whenever the godless gather in a Southern state, it’s apparently time to wake the neighbors:
More than ever, America’s atheists are linking up and speaking out — even here in South Carolina, home to Bob Jones University, blue laws and a legislature that last year unanimously approved a Christian license plate embossed with a cross, a stained glass window and the words "I Believe" (a move blocked by a judge and now headed for trial).
They are connecting on the Internet, holding meet-ups in bars, advertising on billboards and buses, volunteering at food pantries and picking up roadside trash, earning atheist groups recognition on adopt-a-highway signs.
Newsweek greeted the coming of Easter with a black cover, and the headline "The Decline and Fall of Christian America," spelled out in red in the shape of a cross. Inside, it was more declarative: "The End of Christian America." Why? Because they found that the percentage of self-identified Christians had fallen 10 points since 1990. Okay, then let’s compare. How much has Newsweek’s circulation fallen since 1990? Just since 2007, their announced circulation has dropped by 52 percent. It would be more plausible to state "The End of Newsweek."
At the end of 2007, Newsweek reduced its "base rate" (or circulation guaranteed to advertisers) from 3.1 million to 2.6 million, a 16 percent drop. At the end of 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported that Newsweek, faced with an estimated 21 percent decline in ad pages, could soon drop that circulation number by another 500,000 to 1 million readers. In February, the magazine confirmed the million-issue drop, saying it would drop to a base of 1.9 million in July and 1.5 million readers by January 2010.
Most regular church-goers have heard their less scrupulously observant fellows called "Christmas and Easter Christians." Well, they also have their counterparts in the mainstream media: "Christmas and Easter Anti-Christians." How else to explain the spate of skeptical, negative stories that inevitably accompany the two most important Christian holy days?
This Holy Week has been typical. Newsweek proclaimed "The Decline and Fall of Christian America" on its cover. The Washington Post/Newsweek "On Faith" blog featured a post that belittled the significance of Jesus' death and resurrection. The Discovery Channel aired a documentary that painted Jesus as little more than an opportunistic politician who caught a bad break in a trial.
These are just the most notable recent instances of secular media's disdain for traditional Christians and the tenets of their faith. Anti-Christianism is the last acceptable prejudice. The assault on Christian beliefs and morality is ongoing. Take for example the howls of outrage when the Pope reiterated Catholic teaching on abstinence.
But because Easter is so central to understanding Jesus and His purpose, and to Christians' own understanding of the world, the secular attack escalates during Holy Week. It takes on more existential dimensions, questioning Christianity's relevance in the modern world, the meaning of Christ's lessons and ultimately, His divinity.
Depending on your point of view, Jesus was either a charismatic populist crusader, a doctrinaire Marxist or "do your own thing" feel-good guru. Anything but the Son of God. If that's what you think of Him, it's easy to see why you would question His relevance.
Well-known atheist Michael Newdow is old news. Few mainstream media outlets are covering the suit he filed Dec. 30 in U.S. District Court to strip prayer and any mention of God from the inaugural ceremony of President-elect Barack Obama. Of those that are reporting on the suit, however, the Washington Postand MSNBC gave Newdow and his fellow litigants a largely unchallenged platform to argue their case.
Newdow has long fought to impose a tyranny of the minority, failing in attempts to remove God from inaugural ceremonies in 2001 and 2005, and losing a U.S. Supreme Court battle in 2004 to remove the phrase "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance. He was joined in the current suit by the American Humanist Association (AHA), the Freedom From Religion Foundation and others. The suit names U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, Rev. Rick Warren, liberal California senator Dianne Feinstein and several other individuals associated with the inaugural events as defendants in their case.
In her Dec. 31 article, Postreporter Nikita Stewart cited a portion of the lawsuit that labeled the prayers "completely exclusionary, showing absolute disrespect to Plaintiffs and others of similar religious views, who explicitly reject the purely religious claims that will be endorsed, i.e., (a) there exists a God, and (b) the United States government should pay homage to that God."
Stewart also quoted Bob Ritter, staff attorney for the AHA, saying, "the group could win ‘as long as the judges uphold the Constitution.'"
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.
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):
Washington, D.C., local JoEllen Murphy has received a steady stream of media exposure for her Biblical message to counter the controversial "Why believe in a god?" ads seen on metro-area busses.
On Monday, December 15, D.C.-area Metro busses will sport a pro-God advertisement that is a direct response to a $40,000 atheistic ad campaign sponsored by the American Humanist Association. Those ads read, "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake."
On Saturday morning, National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Saturday reported on a most unusual art installation in Manhattan – prayer booths, which look like little phone booths, but come decorated with a kneeler and hands folded in prayer. NPR sent reporter Margot Adler – the pagan witch – to address this issue, and she just happened to stumble across the New York City Atheists as she opened the story:
MARGOT ADLER: You couldn't find a place less conducive to meditation than this corner of 60th Street where cars are streaming east toward the 59th Street Bridge or down 2nd Avenue. And yet there are two prayer booths here a block apart. I'm surprised to see Ken Bronstein, the president of New York City Atheists, checking them out.
(To Bronstein): So you just happened to be walking by at this very moment.
KEN BRONSTEIN: I just happened to be walking by at this exact moment. But I always keep my eyes and ears open.
ADLER: And what Bronstein says is "art-schmart," this is prayer in a public place.
When interviewed by Eyeblast.tv last month, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that YouTube, the video-sharing site owned by his company, is "pretty serious" about removing the "strange" videos that keep popping up on the site, especially videos "that can be used to incite bad outcomes." Apparently videos designed to incite Catholics don't fall into that category.
A YouTube user who goes by the moniker "fsmdude" has posted more than 30 videos under the title "Eucharist Desecration." Each video features an attack on a symbol that Catholics consider sacred -- by blow gun, nail gun, boiling, sword and cigarette in a few recent episodes.
The creator of the videos isn't subtle about his intent. He was angered by reports of a college student allegedly receiving e-mail threats from "fanatical Catholics" after the student snatched a wafer at mass, so "fsmdude" decided to repeatedly profane the Eucharist on camera for all to see.