Surely no one would view Rev. Jeremiah Wright as closer to the centerpoint of American politics than Pastor Rick Warren, right? Wrong. Here's Chris Matthews on this evening's Hardball.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: It seems like Barack Obama, as much as seems to inspire people, including me, has a problem with pastors. I don't know what it is. You get him hooked up with a pastor, whether it's Jeremiah Wright, or it's this guy Rick Warren. One's on the left, one's on the far right. Both are causing him trouble.
So Wright's merely "left," while Warren's "far-right." Do we really need to prove the obvious: that Warren is vastly more mainstream than Wright? It hardly seems worth the effort, but let's consider a few factoids:
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):
Rick Warren had a surprisingly candid response to Ann Curry's question as to whether he would change his views on homosexuality if it were established that people are born gay. The pastor of the Saddleback Church, explaining why such a finding wouldn't cause him to change his position, observed that he is inclined to want to have sex with every beautiful woman he sees, but that that doesn't make it right.
Curry interviewed Warren for a Dateline segment that will be aired tonight on NBC. As noteworthy as Warren's candor was Curry's ostentatious display of righteous liberal anger, captured in the screengrab, while asking Warren whether he is homophobic.
On Thursday’s The View, co-host Joy Behar expressed her displeasure at President-Elect Barack Obama’s choice of Rick Warren for the invocation at his inauguration: “I don’t think it’s appropriate. It’s like putting, you know, Cheney in charge of gun control. It’s wrong....it’s just wrong.”
The topic of Obama choosing Warren came up during the regular opening “Hot Topics” segment of the ABC daytime program. Whoopi Goldberg, who moderated the segment, introduced the controversy behind this choice: “...[A] lot of folks are opposed to this gentleman: gay -- because he opposes gay marriage, he’s anti-abortion -- he’s got a lot of different stances. There’s a lot of people saying he’s a bad choice.”
Elisabeth Hasselbeck was the first co-host to come to Warren’s defense: “I think he’s a great choice. He held the forum -- remember when he did the forum between McCain and Obama during the election? He sat them down and had the faith forum, which I found was great during our times right now. And I think that he’ll -- I think he’ll do a great job. He’s got an incredible following, he’s a strong speaker.”
The baby Jesus is missing from many nativity scenes, and ABC’s “Good Morning America” makes fun of a church’s decision to install a GPS on their tiny savior. On Dec. 14, “Good Morning America” featured a story about churches fighting back against thieves who steal the baby Jesus from outdoor nativity scenes. Instead of seriously underscoring a pattern of crime, the network sent out a reporter to pilfer a wise man, and test the satellite tracking system, all while playing “spy” themed music.
When GMA anchors, Kate Snow and Bill Weir teased the upcoming story, they couldn’t contain their giggles. “We can't even say it without laughing,” said Snow. “But they're using GPS to track them down.” she quipped. “Baby Jesus LoJack,” snickered Weir.
You would think even Playboy magazine had limits. It doesn't.
The famous skin magazine found a way to attack Christians and push porn at the same time. The magazine's Mexican copy featured "a model wearing nothing but a white cloth over her head and breasts," according to Reuters Life. "The magazine, which hit newsstands on December 1 as ceremonies began leading to Friday's pilgrimage to the Mexico City shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe," the article continued.
On the cover: "We Love You, Maria" in Spanish. The company printed 100,000 copies of this outlandish Christmastime cover. Another picture inside the magazine apparently features her standing in front of stained glass - just in case you missed the offensive comparison.
The outcry was appropriately swift. Even Playboy can admit something goes too far - afterward.
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."
This news item led me to ask the question posed in the headline:
(Reuters) - Newsweek magazine is planning staff cuts as part of a major editorial makeover likely to result in a slimmer publication, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people close to the magazine.
The cuts are expected to be outlined in two companywide meetings on Thursday, and will come from an extension of voluntary redundancies offered in the spring, when Newsweek shed 111 jobs, the paper said.
Update (11:37 a.m. EST): Miller is now on the radio program. She insists she had a radio show scheduling conflict. Ingraham apologized for saying she chickened out.
Update (11:26 a.m. EST): Miller backed out of appearing even solo with Ingraham. Mohler is now talking with Ingraham.
A few minutes from now Newsweek's Lisa Miller will appear on the Laura Ingraham radio program to defend her recent article that insists the Bible can reasonably be interpreted to defend same-sex marriage. Shortly after she goes toe-to-toe with Ingraham, the radio host will feature Baptist theologian Albert Mohler who will offer a full-fledged rebuttal. Apparently she refused to go on the show at the same time as Mohler.
Newsweek is hardly the only MSM publication that is clueless about the Christian faith. The New York Times is also reliably feckless when it comes to reporting on what makes biblically orthodox Christians tick.
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler took the Gray Lady to task last Friday for its reporting on the recnet formation of a new coalition of Anglican churches that have broken off from the liberal Episcopal Church USA over concerns of doctrinal liberalism.
In "It's About Theology, Not Territory," the Baptist theologian and pastor lamented that Laurie Goodstein's December 3 story on the formation of the Anglican Church in North America painted the dispute in a way to portray the liberal ECUSA as an aggrieved victim of dogmatic conservatives. By contrast, Mohler points to a lack of doctrinal clarity in the Anglican Communion being the fertile ground by which liberals were able to erode the boundaries of historic, orthodox Christian teaching and thus threaten the unity of the church around the Gospel of Jesus Christ (emphasis mine):
"I don't know why he's attacking Time magazine," a puzzled Seton Motley told "Fox & Friends" host Steve Doocy this morning, referring to the president-elect's former longtime pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. On Sunday the retired minister -- who married the Obamas and baptized their children -- issued a fiery screed against the media -- calling the mainstream media the "gates of hell" -- from the pulpit of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ.
"They [Time magazine] were certainly much nicer to him than a lot of journalistic outlets were, and by nicer I mean hiding him and preventing him from being a bigger player in the presidential race," the MRC director of communications added. "Look, the media's not going to cover this guy in the way that they should because of his 20-year relationship with Barack Obama." [audio available here]
Doocy and Motley also discussed the media's reticence on reporting on Obama's Bill Ayers connection during the campaign. To see the full appearance, click the play button on the embedded video to your right.
Jon Meacham’s ascension to the editor’s chair at Newsweek has marked a very noticeable trend toward turning it into Opinion Week (or OpEdWeek). Its cover stories are often not investigative news pieces, but long editorials. This week, religion reporter Lisa Miller uncorked "The Religious Case for Gay Marriage," and Meacham's Editor's Note dared the religious right to protest, like President Bush egging on the terrorists to "bring it on." Meacham clearly sees his magazine as a crusading progressive weekly:
The reaction to this cover is not difficult to predict. Religious conservatives will say that the liberal media are once again seeking to impose their values (or their "agenda," a favorite term to describe the views of those who disagree with you) on a God-fearing nation. Let the letters and e-mails come. History and demographics are on the side of those who favor inclusion over exclusion. (As it has been with reform in America from the Founding forward.)
Shortly after dismissing the Bible as archaic and "lukewarm" on marriage, Newsweek's Lisa Miller waxed poetic about it as a "powerful" "living document", essentially suggesting that religious conservatives who consider Scripture to be the inerrant, eternally true decrees of God Himself have a lower view of the Bible than religious liberals:
Biblical literalists will disagree, but the Bible is a living document, powerful for more than 2,000 years because its truths speak to us even as we change through history. In that light, Scripture gives us no good reason why gays and lesbians should not be (civilly and religiously) married—and a number of excellent reasons why they should.
Perhaps ignorant of the biblical warning against double-mindedness (James 1:5-8) four paragraphs earlier Miller began her treatise by misrepresenting and then scoffing at the Bible's teachings on sex and marriage, confusing human sinfulness for biblical teaching and Jesus and the Apostle Paul's teachings for a virtual loathing of marriage:
Time magazine’s Jeff Israely compared Pope Benedict XVI to Charles Dickens' most famous character in his latest column, which focuses on the “tough line on Church doctrine” the pontiff has taken: “...[T]here is growing proof that the 82-year-old Pope is...quite willing to play the part of Scrooge to defend his often rigid view of Church doctrine.” Israely later put Scrooge’s characteristic anti-Christmas exclamation in the mouth of the Holy Father: “...[O]ne can imagine Benedict flashing that gentle smile, tilting his head ever so slightly and declaring: Bah Humbug!”
The correspondent’s Thursday column on Time.com, titled “The Pope’s Christmas Gift: A Tough Line on Church Doctrine,” began with Israely apparently lamenting that the old nicknames for the Pope are no longer effective tools: “Those nicknames from the past — God's Rottweiler, the Panzercardinal — don't seem to stick anymore. After acquiring a reputation as an aggressive, doctrine-enforcing Cardinal, Pope Benedict XVI has surprised many with his gentle manner and his writings on Christian love.” He then saw it fit to give the Pope the “Scrooge” nickname, just in time for Christmas: “But with the Christmas season upon us, there is growing proof that the 82-year-old Pope is also quite willing to play the part of Scrooge to defend his often rigid view of Church doctrine.”
On Tuesday night’s Campbell Brown show, CNN raised liberal worries about the Bush administration’s plan in the final days to broaden the conscience clause for medical professionals who object to performing abortion and sterilization procedures. But Randi Kaye’s report questioning a Catholic doctor in Virginia for daring to refuse to provide "care" (translation: abortion or contraceptives) to female patients was most notable for its lack of timeliness: the interviews are now more than a year old, first appearing on Anderson Cooper 360 on November 26, 2007. CNN did not disclose to viewers that its story was largely a rerun.
In the interview for Wednesday’s Barbara Walters Special on ABC with Barack and Michelle Obama, excerpts of which were also shown on Wednesday’s World News with Charles Gibson, Walters asked few questions that put the Obamas on the defensive, in contrast with her January 2001 interview, aired on 20/20, with then-President-elect Bush in which she challenged him on a number of fronts. Most notably, she seemed to chide Bush for choosing John Ashcroft as Attorney General because he "openly opposes abortion," and claimed that Ashcroft was "not considered a friend to civil rights." She asked Bush about reports that, as governor of Texas, he "spent relatively little time studying specific issues," and "only does a few hours of work" a day. The ABC host also challenged Bush from the left on the trade embargo against Cuba, and even asked Laura Bush if her more "traditional" plans for her time as First Lady would be a "setback for women." It is also noteworthy that Walters asked Bush about his plans for dealing with Saddam Hussein and cited "people in the know" who contended that the Iraqi dictator was "stronger than ever."
Christmas is coming, which means it’s time for Comedy Central to begin besmirching the holiday. This year’s first salvo is “A Colbert Christmas,” hosted by the clueless-ultraconservative buffoon persona played by Stephen Colbert. Colbert is so busy manufacturing his O’Reillyesque right-wing jerk that it’s impossible to tell where the real man and the cartoon diverge. His adoring entourage in the secular press tries to smooth over his satires of Christianity by insisting he’s a Sunday school-teaching Catholic family man. Colbert told the Associated Press that he thinks his Christmas special is “sincerely strange, but strangely sincere.”
Why do men like this say such insincere things when promoting their shows? That claim of sincerity vanishes within the first 30 seconds, when Colbert proclaims in his white cardigan and red turtleneck that he’s so excited for his Christmas special he’s "sporting a Yule log" and gets out a baseball bat and promises to provide a "freshly hobbled Tiny Tim." I’m guessing that slogan is also ruined by the scene where he tongue-kisses a bear under the mistletoe.
YouTube is promoting as its "citizen news report of the day" a video of an alleged attack on Greenpeace activists at a coal plant in Poland. There are two problems with the news judgment behind this video selection.
First, both the initial report on the video and YouTube's description of it overstate what actually happened. Watch the video for yourself and see. Aside from some unjustifiable shoving, kicking of snow and grabbing of signs, there is no attack.
In one instance, the pushing is to get protesters out of the way of an oncoming bulldozer. Another clip appears to show a coal miner helping up a protester who fell, and the Greenpeace activists eventually are allowed to display their "Quit Coal" banners without interference -- presumably on private property where they had no right to be.
But the bigger problem with the news judgment in this case is the blatant double standard at work. Why is YouTube helping to publicize an obscure, pro-environmental protest in Poland while ignoring citizen journalism reports of recent bad behavior by protesters that are far more noteworthy and much closer to home?
"In picking church, Obamas will weigh political, religious and personal feelings," the subheading to Russell Goldman's reads.:
Come Jan. 20, Barack Obama knows the house in which he and his family will live, but he has yet to decide at which house of worship they will pray.
Within steps from the White House, the Obamas can choose from a bevy of churches, each offering reasons to be selected, from historic connections to the presidency to historic connections to the African-American community.
ALL TERRITORY PRE 1967 AND JERUSALEM TOO, TO A THREE WAY SPLIT UNDER INTERNATIONAL AND VATICAN CONTROL IN ORDER TO AVOID WW3!!!
But wait a minute. The Vatican is administered by the Roman Catholic Church, of which Barr is decidedly not a fan. Indeed, she considers the Roman church, along with black voters and Mormons to be an enemy of the Constitution and every gay and lesbian person in California:
On Tuesday’s Situation Room, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer referred to a Catholic cardinal’s criticism of Barack Obama’s abortion position as a "scathing rant" and a "diatribe." A CNN graphic also used the "scathing rant" term, and Blitzer later referred to the cardinal’s words as a "blistering rant."
All three of these terms came during Blitzer’s promos for a report by CNN correspondent Brian Todd, which focused on recent comments made by Cardinal James Francis Stafford, who referred to Obama’s pro-abortion stance as "aggressive, disruptive, and apocalyptic." Just before the top of the 5 pm Eastern hour, Blitzer gave the following promo for the segment: "Also, a scathing rant against Barack Obama from a rather surprising source, a Roman Catholic cardinal -- the story behind his diatribe against the president-elect." Ten minutes later, the CNN anchor gave another promo for Todd’s report, in which he stated that the cardinal unleashed "a blistering rant on the president-elect."
The plot surrounding Father Jay Scott Newman's admonishment to Barack Obama-supporting parishoners has thickened.
On Friday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted news that Fr. Newman, a Catholic priest and pastor at St. Mary's Church in Greenville, South Carolina, had informed parishoners who voted for Barack Obama in full knowledge of the Illinois Senator's aggressively proabortion positions that they "should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance."
This is not a controversial position, but rather, as shown at BizzyBlog earlier today, bedrock Catholic teaching, to the point where if you vote for a known proabortion presidential candidate or any other candidate in a position to meaningfully influence the law and do not repent, you're not a legitimate practicing Catholic. Period.
Well, it turns out that Father Newman originally had the full support of Monsignor Martin T. Laughlin, the acting administrator of the Diocese of Charleston, which currently does not have a bishop. But two days later, Msgr. Laughlin reprimanded Fr. Newman in what appeared to be fairly harsh terms (they really weren't; I'll get to that).
Frank Rich has apparently figured out that after January 20, it's not going to be as much fun for him. True, the Times columnist will surely disinter W as necessary to explain away Obama's missteps. But the buck for whatever post-inauguration problems the country faces will land ever more resoundingly on the new president's desk.
And so, like a vaudevillian tapping as fast as he can while anticipating the hook, Rich seems determined to spend these last few weeks of the Bush administration dancing on GOP graves and luxuriating in Republicans' perceived pain. You might say Frank is making hatred while the sun shines.
As we discussed last week in Have Fun For Now, Frank, Rich's immediate post-election column was one long poke in the Republican eye. The Timester is back at it again this morning, outdoing himself in sheer vitriol as he pour buckets of salt, generously seasoned with schadenfreude, into Republican wounds.
CBS News has found a Greenville, S.C., Roman Catholic priest who has warned any and all of his Obama-voting parishioners to repent of voting for the Illinois Democrat before taking Communion, owing to the president-elect's "stance on abortion."
Yet in reporting the November 14 story on its Web site, CBS News failed to ever mention by name the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), the signing of which Obama famously declared would be a top priority in his presidency.
Why wasn't there more of this before the election?
The headline at a Greenville, SC News story carried at USA Today says, "Priest urges penance for Obama voters."
Father Jay Scott Newman is actually demanding it of those who would claim to be faithful Catholics. In the process, he is also stating longstanding Church policy on abortion that has largely been absent from Sunday pre-election homilies at Catholic churches for at least a half-dozen presidential election cycles -- policy that Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, and other politicians who claim to be Catholic have long ignored (bolds are mine):
On his November 10 Huffington Post, Nicholas Graham and nearly every commenter thereafter, purposefully distorted what Governor Palin said about prayer and the 2012 presidential race. The universal misconstruction of Palin's comments was that she was "praying to become president" in 2012 and that somehow God was speaking directly to her. But reality is she did not say that at all.
Graham offhandedly claimed that Palin said that she was waiting "for a sign from God" as to whether she would run in 2012. Further distorting her comments, he claimed she was "confident God would show the way to the White House." But, once again, she said neither of these things. In fact, what she actually said is rhetoric that is pretty much in accord with what even elected presidents have said at one time or another.
Unfortunately, we have arrived at a time when the default position for Democrats as a party is to despise religion even if individually they consider themselves religious. They consider any expression of religious sentiment whatsoever to be an example of "extremism," and "bigotry" against others. Well, at least the second any Republican expresses a religious sentiment, that is. When anyone from their side does it, they wink, nod and assume that their politician is just lying and merely trying to get elected and doesn't really mean it -- which is still an expression of a hatred for religion when all is said and done.
Using anxiety over the economic crisis as a hook, CBS twice plugged his appearance as a chance to hear from "one of the pioneers of spirituality and personal development of our time." While Chopra babbled on with very non-Christian concepts about how Heaven is the "creative part inside you," and how we have to adjust capitalism to "nurture the ecosystem," anchor Harry Smith didn’t find anything controversial in his loathing for traditional Christianity or Catholicism.
In February, Chopra came out with a book called The Third Jesus, and in a Reuters report, he denounced present-day Christianity as hateful and divisive and political, and ultimately dismissed it as "inanity of the utmost extreme." CBS was too busy touting its "pioneer of spirituality" to find this controversy:
In her November 12 article, Washington Post staffer Jacqueline L. Salmon reported on how Catholic bishops are describing the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) as "an attack on the church." Yet it's not so much an attack on the church, but an attack on the sanctity of human life and the provision of hospital care that the Catholic bishops are worried about.
Nonetheless, the headline wording choice -- "Bishops Call Obama-Supported Abortion Rights Bill a Threat to Catholic Church" -- and Salmon's lead paragraph practically painted the Catholic bishops' dispute as, well, parochial.
Salmon waited until 10 paragraphs into the 18-paragraph article to cite one bishop's concern about the future of Catholic medicine in America: