Yesterday the Southern Baptist Convention elected their first black president, an historic moment for an organization that got its start defending slavery in pre-Civil War America.
CNN Starting Point host Soledad O'Brien interviewed Fred Luter Jr., who will be installed as president Wednesday evening. The interview on the main was fine, but towards the end, contributor Margaret Hoover pressed Luter as to whether he would champion as a "civil rights" cause, "inclusiveness of gay Americans," referring it seems to same-sex marriage. Luter answered in the negative, citing the Bible's teachings on the definition of marriage. It's then that O'Brien retorted that his stance put him in opposition to President Obama, as if to suggest that were a scandalous position for him to be in:
If the audacious amount of gory violence and bloody sex in “True Blood” doesn’t do it for you, what about malevolent vampire “Christians?”
Apparently “True Blood” vampires have a sacred text, and HBO writers admitted it’s a slanderous take on the Bible and separation of church and state. A faction of vampires called the “Sanguinistas” functioned as a demeaning allegory for traditional Christians, as they literally interpret the vampire “bible” and believe humans only exist as blood-bags.
Funny, but they’re not making much noise about using government to discriminate in favor of their lifestyle. One Canadian activist even declared: “We’ll only take away charitable status from the buildings where the priests live and where the people pray.”
So here's how it appears to me and I suspect many other news readers, never mind the real motivations. At the Associated Press, when you're covering situations like suicide bomber attacks on Christian churches in Nigeria yesterday, you hold out as long as you can in speculating about who is responsible, even though Islamist Boko Haram terrorists (and only Boko Haram terrorists) have claimed credit for previous attacks in that country, and even though no other religion on earth generates large numbers of people who claim to be its adherents who are willing to blow themselves up so they can kill as many infidels as possible.
Then, once the inevitable claim of responsibility arrives, you treat it as old news (the bombings were a whole 24-36 hours ago, y'know), focus your headline and coverage on "Christian" reprisals instead (even though there is no element of Christian doctrine which sanctions random reprisals), and identify who carried out the attacks as late as you possibly, so it will end up not making most broadcast and many print reports. Here are excerpts:
It would appear that the establishment press is determined to portray a "both sides are at fault" equivalency as much as possible in Nigeria where almost none exists.
Earlier today, Patrick Poole at the PJ Tatler pointed out that a brief initial Associated Press item from Lagos would cause a person, in Poole's words, to "come away mystified as to why these churches were subject to apparently random 'violence.'" He specifically objected to the vagueness of a sentence claiming that "Churches have been increasingly targeted by violence in Nigeria." Later more detailed dispatches from Reuters and the AP aren't much more helpful, especially as they both fail to tag the principal perpetrators of the violence, the Boko Haram, as the terrorists that they are.
Saturday’s Washington Post religion page was completely spoiled by liberal "On Faith" editor-in-chief Sally Quinn, whose column bizarrely connected the hot "mommy-porn" trilogy "Fifty Shades of Grey" to religion and even to Mother Teresa.
"I think the "Fifty Shades" phenomenon is about religion," Quinn proposed. "Not religion in the conventional sense of the word, but in how we are redefining faith practices today as more and more people -- especially women -- shun man-made traditions yet continue to yearn for religious experiences." What?
The conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition is in the middle of a three-day "conference and strategy briefing" in Washington, D.C., which proved to be a sufficient justification for MSNBC's Martin Bashir to bring back anti-conservative-Christian hatemonger Frank Schaeffer to denounce the meeting as essentially a congress of an American Christian Taliban.
"I think what you have to understand when you look at the religious right in action these days is that they speak in Orwellian doublespeak. They say the opposite of what they mean. They talk about faith and freedom, the conference should really be called Politics and Bondage," Schaeffer, the prodigal son of the late famous evangelical theologian Francis Schaeffer snarled. [MP3 audio here; video is posted after the page break]
New York Times religion reporter Laurie Goodstein, in Atlanta to cover the annual meeting of Roman Catholic bishops, "Bishops Defend Fight Against Obama's Policy on Birth Control Coverage," portrayed the church as on the defensive over its fight for religious freedom, as did the story's text box ("Acknowledging criticism, even from some Catholics"). It was embellished with a photo not of the bishops but a small group of protesters in support of liberal nuns censored by the Vatican.
At least Goodstein didn't put the phrase "religious liberty" in scare quotes, as she did with "religious freedom" in a February article hostile to the church's opposition to Obama requiring religious institutions to provide birth control.
"Christians On Right Urge Reform On Migrants," ran the headline over Trip Gabriel's Wednesday piece. If it sounds familiar, it's because the New York Times runs these wishful-thinking "conservative Christians break with movement on immigration enforcement" on a regular basis.
From a July 2010 article by Laurie Goodstein: "At a time when the prospects for immigration overhaul seem most dim, supporters have unleashed a secret weapon: a group of influential evangelical Christian leaders."
A day after asking if the Catholic church is waging a "war on women," CNN teed up liberal Sister Simone Campbell by asking if Rome is being "dictatorial" in its recent dealings with American nuns. After a group of U.S. nuns has been targeted by the Vatican for reform, CNN has shamelessly been promoting the nuns' side of the story with no guest to represent the church's side.
Starting Point anchor Soledad O'Brien mentioned her colleague's absurd "war on women" question from the previous day and asked Sister Campbell if she agreed that "Rome is essentially remaining dictatorial, non-collaborative, but the American Catholic Church is not." [Video below the break. Audio here.]
CNN is friendly to Christianity -- as long as the priests, ministers and religious play into the network's liberal agenda. If Christian guests stand up for traditional marriage, however, they can expect a muchcolder welcome if they even make it on air.
So it was no surprise that CNN has been promoting a dissenting nun's struggle with the Vatican, and making clear that it is siding with wayward American nuns after the Catholic Church has announced a reform of the Leadership Council of Women Religious (LCWR). Anchor Christine Romans tossed softball after softball to liberal Sister Maureen Fiedler on Tuesday's Starting Point, and mocked the Vatican's criticism of the LCWR.
"Let me ask you, women can't be priests. Women – if you follow church teaching, can't use contraception," Romans stated before noting the irony of the prominence of statues of Mary in Catholic churches. "[W]omen in the church when you look at some of the teachings, is there a war on woman within your church?" she asked Fiedler. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
On Friday, conscientious Americans participated in 164 coordinated noontime rallies in support of religious freedom, but those demonstrations were ignored by the liberal broadcast media, NewsBusters contributor and Media Research Center analyst Matthew Balan noted yesterday. At the same time, networks have played up conflict over a Vatican investigation of feminist nuns. NewsBusters publisher and MRC founder Brent Bozell reacted to the double standard in a statement this morning:
The bias beat goes on, and it's getting more obvious as outrage against Obama and his mandate spreads to every corner of America. To ignore these coordinated protests across the country is bad enough. But then to hype what a few über liberal nuns and their hundreds of supporters - hundreds! - are doing to dissent against the Vatican's supposed 'inquisition' is unbearable.
Via Breitbart, we learn that the Independent Film Channel (IFC) has a new sitcom in the works they’re touting/warning is the "most violent sitcom ever made." It’s called Bullet In The Face. Then comes the politics.
In addition to the “unrestrained shootings, peppered with wildly offensive language, IFC is apparently concerned that the use of a crucifix as a backscratcher and dialogue grouping Dick Cheney in with the likes of Hitler and Stalin will be misconstrued as something more than an attempt at some very dark, inappropriate humor." This kind of story is usually more of an advertisement than a warning.
Donald Trump on Monday had some harsh words for Bill Maher's incessant attacks on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's Mormonism.
Appearing on Fox News's On the Record, the real estate mogul said, "If a conservative Republican made a like statement about somebody else's religion, there’d be hell to pay. It’ll be all over the place. It would be the end of that person's career as you know it" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
ABC, CBS, and NBC stayed true to their liberal slant and ignored the 164 rallies across the United States on Friday against the federal government's abortifacient/birth control mandate under ObamaCare. Religious leaders and conservative politicians, like former GOP presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann, addressed the tens of thousands of pro-religious freedom activists who attended the rallies. But the Big Three apparently didn't think this was worthy of coverage on their morning and evening newscasts.
By contrast, CBS played up the supporters of a group of left-leaning Catholic nuns during four on-air segments between May 30 and June 1, 2012. Correspondent Wyatt Andrews hyped how "hundreds of Catholics have rallied behind the sisters," and that "protests in support of the nuns have been held in almost 50 cities."
Todd Kaufman at the Sports Page in Dallas notes that Fort Worth Star-Telegram sports writer Randy Galloway sounded bitter when Texas Rangers star Josh Hamilton talked about getting a big new contract after this season ends -- not just for himself, but to help a "hurting world."
It's always hard for a baseball fan to see your team's highest-wattage star headed for the clubhouse door. But the disdain for the God talk ought to seem more impolite in the Texas metroplex, where ABC puts the "GCBs." Kaufman writes:
National "Public" Radio has barely touched on the 43 Catholic organizations that filed lawsuits against the Obama administration, but it continues to be a noisy sounding board for leftist nuns and their supporters. On Friday, NPR offered more than 14 minutes of air time to the left-wing forces.
On the afternoon talk show Tell Me More, NPR devoted nine minutes and 47 seconds to a segment they titled "Born to Be Wild: Catholic Nuns Hit the Road."These "wild" nuns were celebrated for opposing the Paul Ryan budget with a bus tour. Once again, NPR's honored guest was Sister Simone Campbell of Network, the "social justice lobby." Martin asked Sister to get out a club (or a ruler?) and whack Ryan:
You don’t have to be Catholic to find the liberal media often sounds intentionally clueless when it writes about the Catholic Church publicly identifying for people both inside and outside the church what its teaching is.
When the church makes an announcement that perhaps someone who supports abortion, homosexuality, and masturbation isn’t really anywhere on the planet of Catholicism, liberal journalists have a fit. In Saturday’s Washington Post, (anti-)religion columnist Lisa Miller was so exercised she found someone to say the Vatican sees wayward nuns as comparable to Islamic terrorists (sort of like the Rosie O’Donnell character in An American Carol):
Chalk another one up for media anti-Catholic bigotry.
Syndicated editorial cartoonist Mike Luckovich, working for the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, created a cartoon bashing the Catholic Church for controlling women. The cartoon features a wizened old bishop in a confessional, saying to a woman that “The contraception debate’s about controlling you.” The cartoon has the caption “Confession” at the bottom.
Sister Margaret Farley probably would have had Sally Quinn's respect when she endorsed same-sex marriage in her 2006 book Just Love, which has recently been denounced by the Vatican as unsuitable for use in Catholic theological or moral instruction due to its various departures from Church teaching.
But by golly, it's the Church's rebuke of Farley's defense of masturbation that Quinn thinks is her ticket to convincing her audience that the Church has lost its mind. From her June 7 On Faith blog post "Fifty Shades of Catholicism" (emphases mine):
Last month 43 Catholic institutions across America joined together to defend the First Amendment and filed a total of twelve lawsuits against the Administration in order to protect the right to freedom of religion on behalf of all Americans.
This is the most significant religious lawsuit in U.S. history and Christian leaders all across America have joined in support of the Catholic institutions. This lawsuit is not a single action by a few “out of touch religious leaders,” as the liberal national media would like to portray it.
CNN took some shots at the Vatican on Thursday when touting a dissident nun's book that made the Amazon.com best sellers list. "The nun who wrote a book about sex should be thanking the Vatican for condemning it," anchor Carol Costello quipped.
Exactly why CNN thinks this is news is uncertain, unless it wants to advance a liberalreligiousagenda. Just the other day, a regular contributor to CNN's religion blog came on and blasted the church for declaring the nun's book "Just Love" to be not in conformity with Catholic teaching – even though the nun herself admitted the book was not an official expression of church teaching on sexual ethics. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Another day, another vitriolic attack from New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd on the Catholic Church comparing its treatment of women to Saudi Arabia. The Vatican has recently censured a 2006 book on sexual ethics by Sister Margaret Farley as “not consistent with authentic Catholic theology." According to a Times report Tuesday, the book, Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, "attempted to present a theological rationale for same-sex relationships, masturbation and remarriage after divorce."
Dowd responded in her Wednesday column, "Is Pleasure a Sin?" Ignoring questions of theology and Catholic teaching, Dowd simply called it another "thuggish" attack by a rigid male hierarchy against women, including the de rigueur comparison to Saudi Arabia.
When the news pertains to issues in the Catholic church, CNN loves to promote liberal theologians and religious, especially ones that are defying Catholic teaching. In contrast, orthodox priests and bishops might receive vastly different treatment – if they even get on CNN, that is.
So when an American nun's book on sexual ethics was found by the Vatican to be "not in conformity" with the Catholic Church's teaching, CNN contributor Stephen Prothero smacked the Vatican for its "unjust" condemnation of the book and accused the Catholic Church of continuing to "attack the sort of apple pie, mom kind of institutions in America."
When a nun tows her vows, she pledges among other things obedience to the Catholic Church and its teachings. So when a sister writes a book on sexual ethics that in various ways contradicts Church teachings and refuses for six years to recant, is it really all that shocking when the Vatican issues a rebuke (and an extremely mild one at that)?
That's exactly what has happened in the case of Sister Margaret A. Farley, whom the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith rebuked yesterday* for her 2006 book Just Love: A framework for Christian Sexual Ethics. But to Reuters's Philip Pullella, the Vatican is waging war on a "popular American nun." From Pullella's June 4 story headlined "Vatican attacks popular U.S. nun over sexuality book" (emphases mine):
Appearing as a guest on Monday's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on NBC, actor and comedian Martin Short lambasted several of the GOP presidential candidates, as he called Rick Santorum a "crazy Catholic," compared Michele Bachmann to the Taliban while questioning her intelligence, and suggested that Mitt Romney has sent jobs to other countries.
"Black preachers [are] divided on same-sex marriage, not Obama," insists the Washington Post's headline for a June 1 Religion News Service article about how African-American ministers across the country may disagree with President Obama on same-sex marriage, but that they are 100 percent committed to his reelection.
RNS's Lauren Markoe based this analysis on the amen chorus of some 200 pastors at a recent meeting of the Conference of National Black Churches. But Markoe failed to report a dissenting group of African-American ministers, the Coalition of African-American Pastors, which has sent a letter requesting an audience with President Obama as the Washington Times' Stephen Dinan reported Friday:
One frequent demand from Catholic Church abuse victims is that abusive clerics be laicized or removed from the priesthood as expeditiously and quickly as possible.
So if the Archdiocese of Milwaukee discovered a fast and economical way to make that happen, wouldn't that be a good thing for both victims and the Church? Not according to the New York Times' Laurie Goodstein.
Elitist film critics at several big city papers, Friday, mocked the Christian-themed movie For Greater Glory as "catnip for crusaders," a movie that exploits the struggle for religious freedom with "maximum teary-eyed outrage."
The movie, directed by Dean Wright, tells the story of a Catholic uprising against religious persecution in 1920s Mexico. However, Los Angeles Times film critic Robert Abele sneered, "'For Greater Glory' is mostly single-minded, dying-for-the-cause fodder, catnip for crusaders but not so interesting to those looking for a deeper view into how politics and religion can tragically clash."