Christmas: a season of generosity, good cheer, preparation for Christ’s birth – and a swarm of lawyers seeking to purge any mention of Christianity from the public square.
Every Christmas, the so-called secular community starts shrieking whenever any mention of religion is brought into the public eye. Lawyers successfully targeted a school’s performance of ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas.’ Even Christmas trees have too much religious content to suit the self-appointed censors.
As we at NewsBusters have noticed, Advent and Lent seem to be the times of year that the liberal secular media loves to tweak devout Christians with attacks on historic, orthodox Christian teaching. The latest example is the media being abuzz over Irish playwright and novelist Colm Toibin's "The Testament of Mary."
The "silent, obedient, observant" Mary of Scripture that has "echoed down" through church history is ripped apart by "the masterful Irish writer Colm Toibin" who "puts a jackhammer to the cozy, safe, Christmas-card version" of the Mother of God, gushed Karen Long of the Cleveland Plain Dealer in a December 7 Religion News Service piece accessible at the Washington Post's "On Faith" section.
[Update, Saturday, 9 pm Eastern: Ranger Up also promoted the vulgar image on their Twitter account.]
On Friday, Ranger Up, an apparel company that sells "shirts for the military and the patriotic Americans who love the men and women of the Armed Forces", inexplicably posted a crude rendition of Pope Benedict XVI on their Facebook page, which has over 82,000 fans. The graphic invokes a famous Marilyn Monroe scene in the movie The Seven Year Itch. Instead of standing on the streets of New York City, the Pope is in the middle of a park in the tropics, and a little girl appears to be running away in horror of the sight of the pontiff's bare legs. [image below the jump]
So far, over 350 people have "liked" the image on Facebook, it's been shared 122 times, and several anti-Catholic posts have been left on its comment thread, with no reply or comment from the anyone at the company.
This one comes straight from the "There are none so blind as those who refuse to see" Department. On Wednesday, in an interview with talk show host Hugh Hewitt (HT Daily Caller), New York Times Cairo Bureau Chief David D. Kilpatrick characterized Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood as "not violent by nature," and as "a moderate, conservative but religious, but moderate, regular old political force." (Quick aside: There is nothing "conservative" about sharia law, persecution of Christians, and the subjugation of women, yet the press won't stop using that dishonest tag to describe radical Islamists.)
Just a few days later, in a pair of dispatches, one of which appeared in today's Times print edition, Kilpatrick reported that "the government of President Mohamed Morsi has approved legislation reimposing martial law," and that Morsi "is leaning more closely than ever on his Islamist allies in the Muslim Brotherhood." Imagine that. Excerpts from the Hewitt interview and each of Kirkpatrick's Friday reports follow the jump.
As if a puffy seven-minute-plus story on Morning Edition wasn't enough publicity for Irish novelist Colm Toibin's abrasive takedown of the Virgin Mary, NPR's Terry Gross offered another promotional 45 minutes on Monday's Fresh Air. There's nothing NPR likes better than taking this humble, devout disciple and transforming her into some sort of bitter Real Housewife of Nazareth.
Toibin was encouraged to read passages from this vicious little Bible-shredding screed, about how Mary couldn't stand the sound of her own son's preaching: "my son would insist on silence and begin to address them as though they were a crowd, his voice all false and his tone all stilted, and I could not bear to hear him." Gross asked the obvious softball. Ahem, you know this sounds like you want to push Christianity down and steal its lunch money?
After a non-religious West Point cadet left the academy because of what he claimed was religious bigotry, CNN contributor Roland Martin compared it to racism suffered by one of West Point's first black cadet graduates.
Cadet Lt. Blake Page first aired his grievances to TheHuffington Post and he told CNN's Starting Point that what he found "most offensive" at West Point was "condescension and disrespect from other people." [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Just before Thanksgiving, the leftist think tank Demos issued a report by its own Catherine Ruetschlin advocating a $12 an hour minimum wage (stated as $25,000 per year by her) for those who work full-time in retail.
What's interesting about Ruetschlin's suggestion is that there is a retailer out there which is actually doing that and more -- and it's not Costco, which "pays starting employees at least $10 an hour." To be fair to Costco, rapid wage advancement is apparently quite common there, but that's off-topic. Perhaps surprising to the press, the company involved starts its full-time employees not at $12 an hour, but at $13. Perhaps if it spent less time trying to figure how to discredit this company, the establishment media might instead focus on how this company is able to be profitable under such a wage structure. Before identifying the firm after the jump, we'll first see in an open letter from its CEO why it's not getting favorable press attention (in full; bolds are mine):
Reuters reports the Pope is entering the world of Twitter at "Pontifex." On Monday morning's Bill Press show, the former seminarian mocked the 85-year-old pontiff: "What do you think the chances are that the Pope has any idea how to access Twitter?" By the way, hip Bill Press is 72.
Press producer Peter Ogburn mocked the plan for the Pope to answer tweeted questions at #askpontifex. He read some favorites, which ranged from Jesus-and-microwaved-burrito questions to the assertion that the Catholic Church is causing "millions to die in the Third World" by opposing condoms: [ relevant video follows the article ]
Barack Obama, who has been called “the Christian President with the Muslim-sounding name,” did not express any gratitude to God in his Thanksgiving address for the fourth year in a row, causing critics to claim that “he has ignored the central message of the holiday in favor of political grandstanding.”
In his address, Obama said that Thanksgiving is “a time to give thanks for each other, and for the incredible bounty we enjoy.”
CBS's morning and evening newscasts conspicuously glossed over reporting on actor Angus T. Jones calling his own show, Two and Half Men - which airs on the network - "filth." By contrast, ABC's Good Morning Americacovered the remark on Tuesday, and NBC's Today show aired a news brief on the story on Wednesday.
Correspondent Teresa Garcia did file a report on the controversy on Wednesday, but only after Jones issued an apology to his employers and coworkers. Garcia's segment was also banished to CBSNews.com.
You may recall when CBS fired Charlie Sheen early last year from the popular Two and a Half Men series for a string of "felony offenses involving moral turpitude." In the weeks and months that preceded this decision, an increasingly erratic Sheen received an inordinate amount of media attention for his drug-induced rants. To this day however, Sheen's bad boy persona is received warmly by the media, and he's been rewarded for it with ad spots for Fiat and DirecTV and even another show on the FX network that jokingly plays off his history of reckless hedonism.
By contrast, Sheen's former co-star, Angus T. Jones, the titular "half man" on the sitcom, has been castigated by the media for his recent religious conversion and subsequent YouTube testimonial in which he urged folks to avoid his popular TV series. Perhaps pressured by producers, Jones has since apologized for coming across as indifferent and unappreciative for the lucrative opportunity, but that hasn't stopped the media for characterizing Jones's video as another celebrity meltdown. [ video below the page break ]
The owners of Hobby Lobby Stores object on religious grounds to the HHS mandate that they cover abortion-inducing drugs for employees, but CNN's Carol Costello thinks the objection itself is an imposition of will.
"So isn't Hobby Lobby imposing its will on those workers?" she asked on Wednesday. "I think that when it's left up to companies to decide which drug is right for women, then actually you're making the decision for them as much as the government is," she added later. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
On Tuesday's CBS This Morning, Norah O'Donnell hounded popular Christian pastor Rick Warren over his support of defining marriage as being between one man and one woman. O'Donnell quoted the second greatest commandment of Christianity - "love thy neighbor as thyself" - to Warren as she asked, "Why do you oppose same-sex marriage?"
When the Saddleback Church senior pastor affirmed that he was "in favor of not redefining marriage," the anchor used the current trend in polls towards approval of such unions to lobby her guest to change his views:
MRC president Brent Bozell ripped The New York Times and the Washington Post in his November 17 column for their positive reviews of Colm Toibin's short novel "The Testament of Mary," which distorts the biblical Virgin Mary into an angry woman bitter at her son Jesus' crucifixion and filled with contempt for His followers. But these left-leaning rags weren't the only media outlets boosting Toibin's iconoclastic re-purposing of the Mother of God.
NPR boosted the Irish writer in an interview on the November 13 episode of Morning Edition. Correspondent Lynn Neary could have been mistaken for a publicist for Toibin as she unquestioningly forwarded his talking points on the book. Neary acknowledged that Toibin's warped version of Mary is a "controversial figure," but barely touched on how Christians - especially Catholics and Orthodox Christians - might be offended by his novel.
So what's more important, the fact that Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was involved in brokering a Gaza-Israeli peace deal which appears to be more than sightly tilted in Hamas's direction, or the fact that Morsi has opportunistically seized nearly dictatorial powers?
They're arguably equal, but if compelled to choose, I believe most readers here would contend that because of the difficulties seen throughout human history in undoing such things, Morsi's power grab is more important. The Associated Press doesn't share that evaluation. In its summary of "10 Things to Know for Friday" the wire service notes the "peace" accord but not the power grab:
In his Monday evening coverage of a federal judge's refusal to grant retailer Hobby Lobby injunctive relief from ObamaCare's mandate that it "provide insurance coverage for the morning-after and week-after birth control pills," the Associated Press's Tim Talley "cleverly" recast the government's argument over what constitutes an abortion (the government says that the morning-after pill isn't an abortifacient, when it really is) into one over when "pregnancy" (instead of life) begins. The company faces fines of $1.3 million per day (not a typo) starting on January 1 if it does not comply.
Several paragraphs from Talley's writeup will illustrate the misdirection (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
The media in Fargo, North Dakota were scandalized when a nearby Minnesota priest informed the parents of Lennon Cihak that he would not be confirmed in the local Catholic church after he posted a picture on Facebook supporting gay marriage (or a No vote on the traditional-marriage ballot initiative). Naturally, the liberal parents – who agree with their son – were shocked, shocked that the church would stand for something.
“You kind of know the Catholic beliefs, but I never thought they would deny somebody confirmation because you weren’t 100 percent. I guess that’s what shocks me,” Shana Cihak said. That’s exactly how the Fargo Forum sold it:
A Christian can be crushed gazing at the picture of Mary standing at the foot of the cross, watching her beloved son suffocate, and die. But in that vision she stands there for hours, patiently enduring her suffering. For two millennia, she has been a role model for Christians, a woman who practiced obedience in the most difficult of human circumstances, with fervent hope for what this sacrifice will offer all mankind as it struggles with sin.
This is why it seems so hard to reflect that vision of patience when black-hearted “artists” practice character assassination on the Blessed Virgin Mary to strip her of every virtue: her patience, her obedience, her courageous love, and her prayerful faith in God. On November 13, Simon & Schuster launched a vicious little 96-page novella titled “The Testament of Mary.”
Democrats picked up seven new House seats and expanded their caucus in the Senate by two seats, electing along the way the House's first Hindu member and the Senate's first Buddhist. But for liberal religion scholar Stephen Prothero, that's not good enough, because both chambers are still disproportionately too Protestant, with Republicans in particular looking too much like an "old-fashioned America" of yesteryear.
New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow isn’t even a starter, but the media still can’t resist taking potshots at him. “Good Morning America” ran a chirpy segment about Tebow – the backup quarterback for the New York Jets – being anonymously ripped by his teammates.
In the opening segment of Friday's Good Morning America, Amy Robach teased a Nov. 15 segment on the Jets quarterback by questioning: “Tim Tebow’s fall from grace? Celebrated for his dramatic last-minute touchdowns and praised for his faith. Now, being torn apart by his teammates behind his back. Why is the most popular man in football no longer hailed as a hero?”
Merica cited President Obama’s re-election as a spur to liberal groups to step up their attacks on the Roman Catholic hierarchy: “Emboldened by the re-election of President Barack Obama, a cadre of liberal Catholic activists and groups is waging a campaign alleging that America's Catholic bishops are out of touch with Catholic laypeople.”
Thirteen Catholic church abuse articles made the front page; just one BBC piece did
Lead sentence linked Pope to scandals 20 times; linked new Times boss to BBC scandals just once.
It’s a horrifying and tragically familiar story: A beloved and trusted institution is rocked by allegations of sexual abuse of minors over many years. Intrepid reporters dig to learn how the crimes could have gone on so for so long, who knew about them, and if officials kept it quiet. Story after newspaper story leads with speculation that corruption may be systemic and the cover-up may go all the way to the man at the top.
On HBO's Real Time Friday, Democratic strategist James Carville - yes, I said Democratic strategist James Carville - scolded the Daily Beast's Andrew Sullivan for always blaming Republicans (video follows with transcript and commentary):
How dare Catholic bishops use their teaching authority to speak out in favor of religious liberty! That was the thrust of University of Dayton theology professor Vincent Miller’s November 8 post on CNN’s Belief Blog (which has a tendency to attack conservative ideas) titled “Catholic Bishops’ Election Behavior Threatens Their Authority.”
Miller complained that: “The Catholic Church was well within its rights to conduct its campaign on religious liberty, but its “Preserve Religious Freedom” yard signs were clearly designed to be placed alongside partisan candidate signs.” He continued by bewailing the supposed partisan nature of the campaign: “The technically nonpartisan nature of the Church’s religious liberty campaign was further drowned out by a small chorus of strident bishops who left no doubt about how Catholics ought to vote for president.”
In his page A51 November 7 column, "Voting on same-sex marriage, with the Book of Leviticus ringing in my ears," the Washington Post's Courtland Milloy explained how, as a child raised in the "Bible Belt during the 1950s with that Old-Time Religion," he's still haunted by "Leviticus, that strong-arm book of the Bible that for years has tried to dictate my thoughts and actions through fear and guilt and on Tuesday dogged my every step to the polls."
What followed was Milloy recounting his consultations with two liberal theological influences in the local African-American community who helped convince him that voting for same-sex marriage was biblically kosher. He also tossed in a conservative black pastor who was quickly derided as a biblical literalist who is "not literate" in the estimation of a Howard Divinity professor. But at the very close of his column, Milloy rather gratuitously dropped in something that suggests he was struggling with lusting in his heart after President Obama's wife:
Shortly after 1:00 a.m. during MSNBC's election night coverage, MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell ridiculously claimed that Democrats are more tolerant of Mormonism than Republicans and blamed the "Bible-thumping side of the Republican party," which he asserted is "where anti-Mormon feeling resides," for political analysts discussing Mitt Romney's Mormon religious beliefs, in spite of polls showing Republicans more inclined to accept a Mormon President than Democrats. O'Donnell:
Remember the good ol' days when folks in the media were fond of telling us that conservative evangelical Christians would exhibit anti-Mormon bigotry and fail to vote for Mitt Romney simply because of his religion?
Back in April, MSNBC's Martin Bashir charged Gov. Mitt Romney with being a liar, went on to quote Mormon doctrinal texts, and strongly hinted that the Republican presidential candidate was in danger of hellfire. In early December 2011, Bashir hinted at a similar pronouncement of anathema on GOP candidate Herman Cain.
But now with just five days left until the election, Bashir is infuriated by a TV ad cut by former Baptist minister and ex-governor Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.) which simply reminds Christian voters that God is watching their vote and that their choices at the ballot box ring through to eternity. "Will you vote the values that will stand the test of fire?" Huckabee asks in the spot. Bashir, no biblical illiterate he, erroneously took this to be a suggestion that Huckabee was suggesting the "unpardonable sin" was casting a vote for Obama. Both a review of the full context of the ad [embedded below the page break] and a basic understanding of the relevant biblical text Huckabee alludes to shows it's nothing of the sort. [MP3 audio of segment here; video excerpt of Bashir segment also follows page break]