Apparently the Catholic Church is welcome when it promotes causes near and dear to liberal hearts, but it's shown the door as soon as it takes a hard line against controversial issues like homosexuality and abortion.
Robert McCartney of the Washington Post admitted as much in his Dec. 10 column about the effect legalized same-sex "marriage" could have on the charitable activities of the Catholic Church in Washington, D.C.
"I view the church as a tremendous force for good in the world in many ways, especially in its advocacy for the poor and against violence. The U.S. church supports more ambitious healthcare reform than Barack Obama, does, for instance," he wrote.
"But I part with the church - as many of its members do - on many of positions on sexual issues. Regrettably, those are the ones that religious leaders often seem to care the most about."
McCartney, argued that the diocese is allowing a "dispute over employment benefits," which he claimed "would have little practical effect," to force it to "give up doing valuable, publicly funded work helping the homeless and sick" because the Church does not "want to miss the opportunity, however small, to oppose homosexuals' right to wed."
Of course the encounter in question is that of literary critic Mary Gordon, a "liberal, feminist intellectual" who happens to be Catholic, is not a trained scriptural scholar, and admits to having "never actually read the full Gospel" prior to undertaking her "Reading Jesus" project.
"But off she goes anyhow, girded only by her considerable intelligence and disarming sincerity, determined to look squarely at the Gospels, how she reads them and how she maintains what she calls her 'hopeful faith,'" Charles notes approvingly, adding that Gordon's professed disinterest in converting readers or making doctrinal claims is:
Anthony Stevens-Arroyo of the Washington Post’s On Faith blog took left-wing moral equivalency to new lows in a November 24 post where he compared Ft. Hood shooter Nidal Hassan to General Patton and World War I hero Alvin York. What does this mass murderer have in common with two American heroes, in Stevens-Arroyo’s view? All three recited what he labeled “bad prayers.”
Matthew Archbold of the Creative Minority Report blog devoted an entire post on Monday to picking apart the Washington Post writer’s arguments. Before Stevens-Arroyo compared Hassan to Patton and York, he cited other examples of such “bad prayers.”
For several days NewsBusters has been chronicling media outrage over Catholic bishop Tom Tobin asking pro-choice Patrick Kennedy to refrain from the sacrament of communion.
In all of their indignation over a church being involved in politics, they must have forgotten about the recent past when President Obama asked churches to help him push government-mandated healthcare. When ministers stepped into the politicial discussion back then, media outlets were more than willing to celebrate it.
In late August of this year, President Obama held a meeting with left-leaning religious leaders to convince them that government mandated healthcare was a "moral imperative," and that ministers should be involved in educating their fold on the issue.
The media protrayed the meeting as a great idea and praised the ministers who attended. MSNBC ran an article from CQ writer Jane Norman that gushed with excitement over sermons laced with politics and prayer meetings aimed at congressional districts:
The Boston Globe predictably editorialized on Wednesday against Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin for "targeting" Rep. Patrick Kennedy ("Rhode Island bishop errs in targeting Patrick Kennedy.") They predictably cavil that bishops don’t punish politicians who support the death penalty and wars.
What sets this leaden chunk of argument apart is its boast the bishop's attention is "ironic" since the Kennedy family have long been a flock of terrific, devout Catholics that drew others into the church. They have been virtual magnets of holiness. Yes, you may pick up your jaw now:
Among Catholic politicians, Patrick Kennedy is both an obvious target, because of his prominence, and a deeply ironic one, because of the decades of loyalty and support the Kennedy family has given to the Catholic Church. Though they may not always have lived strictly by church teachings, Patrick’s father, uncles, aunts, and grandmother were all devout Catholics whose intensive commitment to worship drew others into the church. The Kennedys accorded priests and bishops an honored position in their lives. Edward Kennedy’s dying appeal to the pope proves that the church was never far from the late senator’s mind.
"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):
"Don we now our gay apparel" took on a different meaning during Joy Behar's CNN Headline News program Nov. 24.
According to the panel Behar spoke with, the holidays are a great time for gay people to come out of the closet. They are also a good time to knock religion and push the gay agenda.
Actor Jeffrey Self, one of the three gay panelists, told Behar "I think also [coming out] is a nice distraction from all the other drama that's taking place in your house. Everybody's already mad at each other."
"I think it's the perfect time to do it," claimed comedienne and lesbian Judy Gold. "Because then you get it over with and everyone is already there. So they don't have to call each other and say, did you hear?"
Behar and her pals also managed to mock Christianity, insult the Catholic League's Bill Donohue, play the break-up of a marriage because of homosexuality for laughs, and proclaimed Adam Lambert a "genius" for his sexually explicit American Music Awards performance and denounced ABC as "cowardly" for pulling the plug on Lambert's live "Good Morning America" appearance. Behar further claimed her "philosophy" was "that a parent should say to the child, ‘are you gay' when they see them playing with dolls when they're boys."
Apparently MSNBC's Chris Matthews doesn't want Catholics involved in the political process at all - especially when it comes to abortion. Earlier this month the "Hardball" host declared "The clergy should stay off Capitol Hill." Last night, he accused Thomas Tobin, bishop of Providence, Rhode Island, of "telling public officials how to set public policy," "stepping beyond moral teaching," and "basically assuming an authority" because the bishop requested that Rhode Island Democrat Rep. Patrick Kennedy not take communion due to his support for abortion.
Matthews' based his accusations on a portion of a speech on religion delivered by then Sen. John F. Kennedy in which he stated:
I believe in an America that is official neither Catholic, Protestant, nor Jewish, where no public official either requests or accept instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches, or any other ecclesiastical source, where no religious body seeks to impose its will, directly or indirectly, upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials.
Bishop Tobin briefly responded that the Church does not want to "dictate what the public policy should be in the United States from a purely Catholic doctrinal point of view," but "what [it] is trying to do, most of all, is instill good human values but also have Catholics who are in political office be faithful to the dictates of the Church and the dictates of their conscience and the teachings of the Church."
This is the fifth year I have looked into how the media treats these two topics:
The use of "Christmas shopping season" vs. "holiday shopping season" (note how the AP photo at right uses "holiday" and not "shopping," even though there is a C-C-, Chr-Chr-Christmas tree in the picture).
The frequency of Christmas and holiday layoff references.
I have done three sets of simple Google News searches each year in late November, followed by identical searches roughly two and four weeks later.
The cumulative results of all three search sets during the past four years are in this graphic.
Year-to-year changes have often been subtle. That is anything but the case with the results of the first set of searches I did at roughly 10 a.m. ET. In the context of the current economy, they are stunning, and very revealing:
Last night the Baltimore City Council became the first in the nation to pass a law that would require pro-life crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to post in writing disclaimers noting that they do not provide abortion services or contraceptives nor refer women to persons or clinics who do.
Reporting the story in the November 24 paper, the Baltimore Sun's Julie Scharper quoted the bill's author and council president Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D) heralding the passage of the bill as "a step towards making sure that women have the information they need to make the right decision for their health and their future."
Yet Scharper failed to point out to readers that Rawlings-Blake actually voted against an amendment that would also apply her standard to abortion clinics. Reported George P. Matysek Jr. of The Catholic Review on November 17:
Monday’s NBC Nightly News took up the story of liberal Congressman Patrick Kennedy’s public feud with the Catholic Church, and NBC’s Ron Allen implied something improper in how "the Catholic Church is flexing its religious and political muscle."
When Catholic officials endorse liberal initiatives like immigration reform or oppose an execution, the networks don’t worry about the separation of church and state. But with traditional stands against abortion and gay marriage in the crossfire, NBC’s screen graphic asked if the church was "Crossing the Line?" A secular-left lobbyist accused the church of being "not above spiritual and political blackmail."
NBC even used footage from Nicholas Ballasy’s video interview with Kennedy for Cybercast News Service, a news outlet affiliated with the MRC. But the brief snippet took out some of Kennedy’s hostility against the church for "fanning the flames of dissent and discord" over the "absolute red herring" of abortion. Here’s how NBC portrayed it:
On today's Morning Joe, Larry O'Donnell called the Roman Catholic bishop who barred Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) from taking communion a "political hack."
Interestingly, Mika Brzezinski had a totally different take, arguing the controversy was not about the Church but about Kennedy publicizing the matter in a play to his base. Though Bishop Thomas Tobin sent his letter to Kennedy more than two years ago, its contents didn't come to light until Kennedy recently revealed them to a Rhode Island newspaper.
Blogger Amanda Hess of the Washington City Paper suggests a new story for The Washington Post on the gay left waging war on the Catholic Church over the city council's imposition of "gay marriage" rules without a referendum:
A new Web site hopes to use the oldest trick in the book to combat the Catholic Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage: A good, old-fashioned forced outing!
At ChurchOuting.org, you’re invited to scroll through a list of every Achbishop, Bishop, and Reverend in the Archdiocese of Washington, zero in on one you know is gay, and then submit your “detailed account of how you know the priest in question is being hypocritical through his silence.”
As if we needed more proof that Christians are the only group left in America that it’s safe to make fun of. A popular YouTube video purports to be an ad for a Wii-like game system called “Mass: We Pray,” which will be available at Easter 2010. In reality, the anti-religious video is a commercial for a new video game.
In it, viewers see a family at home as a saccharine-voiced narrator reminiscent of the one from the old “Mr. Bill” skit on “Saturday Night Live,” says, “A family shouldn't have to wait until Sunday to worship the Lord. Now you can go to church every day without leaving your home.”
The family’s two children are then shown pantomiming the movements of priests and congregants during mass, using “the wireless cross controller,” a large white plastic cross with a rosary bead strap. “Every twist of the hand and nuance of a blessing is recreated onscreen,” says the narrator. The point, he explains, is to collect “grace points,” and move a number of pews toward the altar. “Then trade in your Grace points to unlock the Holy Mysteries. Add the kneeler accessory, and get off the couch and into the action.” Players can download the “seven sacraments and holy rituals expansion pack.”
Last year, Sally Quinn of the Washington Post found it "devastating" on PBS that Barack Obama would abandon his sulfurous religious mentor Jeremiah Wright, a man "lionized by some of the great white theologians in this country." Quinn questioned how Wright’s allegedly racist opponents can call themselves Christians: They "go to their white churches, and you wonder how they can call themselves Christians and still look at other people as though they are inferior."
In her role as the co-creator of the Post’s "On Faith" blog, Quinn is at it again, suggesting on Tuesday Sarah Palin was a rotten Christian in her book Going Rogue. "Palin's book is a screed against everyone who ever done her wrong." She jokes nastily that maybe it was God’s plan for Palin to "go rogue" from the tenets of Christianity:
"This week's abortion conversation is about politics. Let's not pretend it's about anything else," Newsweek's Lisa Miller huffed in a November 18 Newsweek.com post, complaining about how the moral issues surrounding abortion are taking on a life of their own in the health care debate.
We suffer, this week, from a moral myopia. Thanks to the passage in Congress of a health-reform bill, abortion is in the news again, but with the same old warriors brandishing their same old spears.
But while Miller went on to list both pro-life and pro-choice "old warriors," it's hard to believe her beef is with both sides of that fight equally. Miller laments that:
Our entire health-care system (and the proposed reform) is rife with "complex moral issues." To activate our consciences only in the realm of abortion relieves those consciences of too much responsibility.
Newsweek religion editor Lisa Miller, contributing to her magazine’s “20/10” list of top 10 cultural moments of the past decade, revisited the “furor surrounding...[the] alleged anti-Semitism” of Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ, and concluded “the film is, in fact, anti-Semitic.” Miller also accused Gibson of making “Jesus in his own image.”
The 2004 film was number eight on Newsweek’s list of cultural moments, and the religion editor began her synopsis by rehashing another of the critics’ main charges about the movie- its apparent glorification of violence: “Mel Gibson’s pious gorefest The Passion of the Christ may not be remembered for all the controversy it courted upon its release, or for its surprise opening-weekend take of $83 million—and perhaps not even for its director’s widely mocked decision to have his actors speak only Latin and Aramaic.” Widely-mocked? How did she come to that conclusion? More than a few outlets, including the notoriously liberal NPR, noted how the movie revived interest in Aramaic, the language spoken by the Jews in the 1st century AD.
With those lines of criticism of the way, Miller moved on to the criticism which she bought the most- its supposed anti-Semitism: “Nor will The Passion be chiefly remembered for the furor surrounding its alleged anti-Semitism. (The film is, in fact, anti-Semitic. Those most thirsty for Jesus’s blood are the Jews whose brown teeth and matted hair disallow any individuality. Meanwhile, the Roman governor Pontius Pilate—who, according to history, did sentence Jesus to death—is as soulful and ambivalent as Hamlet.).”
I haven’t seen “The Blind Side” yet, so I won’t say anything about the quality of the film. But based on the trailer and the true story, my wife and I are as excited about this as any film in a long time. It tells the true story of the adoption of Michael Oher by the Tuohy family in Tennessee and how they helped him go from homeless teenager to professional football star. The book was incredible, the story miraculous. We’re especially excited because we’re big adoption advocates, currently in the middle of our first of many planned adoptions. Also, the Tuohys happen to be conservative Christians like we are, and we don’t normally get to see families like that on screen, at least in movies that are watchable.
Apparently, this makes me a racist.
You see, Michael Oher happens to be black, and the Tuohys happen to be white. I actually think that’s pretty cool, especially because they live in Tennessee, and what gets us farther from the evil days of segregation than an increased number of mixed-race families? One would assume that liberals especially would be excited about that, right?
Headline wording choice can set the tone for liberal bias, and a November 18 Washington Post Style front-pager is a classic example.
Profiling Pentecostal preacher Bishop Harry Jackson, the Post titled staffer Wil Haygood's story "Seeking to put asunder," an obvious allusion to Jesus's declaration about the holy nature of matrimony (Matthew 19:4-6 KJV):
And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made [them] at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
Of course, that scriptural passage succinctly illustrates Jackson's point: Christian doctrine regarding marriage is that "from the beginning" God's design was one man and one woman in a "one flesh" union, but the effect of the headline's allusion is the same. The paper is portraying Jackson as a man who aims to "put asunder" loving, committed gay couples who are "married."
Openly gay actor Ian McKellen recently told Details magazine that he proudly defaces Bibles left in hotel nightstands, ripping out pages containing verses which condemn homosexual behavior. USA Today's Leslie Miller picked up on this yesterday for the paper's "Faith & Reason" blog, after spying a blog post by colleague Barbara De Lollis in a November 16 post for her Hotel Check-In blog for USA Today.
For her part, De Lollis relayed the news item and wondered, "Could word of McKellen's habit spark a movement?" De Lollis went on to ask:
After airing what she described as a "hard-hitting" ad by the Center for Reproductive Rights which ominously warned, "Don't let Congress ban abortion coverage millions of women already have," MSNBC's Dr. Nancy Snyderman today lamented to Politico's Jeanne Cummings that with Sen. Ted Kennedy gone, Democrats lack a unifying figure who could defuse an abortion battle that could mar Democratic unity on health care reform.
Snyderman praised the late pro-choice politician as a "man of his church and of his faith" (MP3 audio here):
Well, now the Catholic Church is lobbying hard to get House language into the Senate bill and then hopefully get it passed. Politico's assistant managing editor Jeanne Cummings wrote about this. And she joins me now.
It failed to make his master's thesis at the university Pat Robertson founded a campaign killer, but the Washington Post is still intent on finding ways to damage governor-elect Bob McDonnell even before he takes office.
In a Metro-section front-pager today, Post staffer Rosalind Helderman insisted that some recent remarks by Robertson about the nature of Islam following the Fort Hood shooting have "put McDonnell in a bind" and are forcing the Republican governor-elect "to confront how he plans to handle his friendship with" the "long-time ally" and "highly controversial figure."
Just four paragraphs into her story, Helderman cast McDonnell as one who "tried during the race to convince Virginians that he was a social conservative who could speak more broadly to issues that cross party lines."
Of course, McDonnell did just that, winning the Virginia governor's race by an 18-point margin (59-41 over Democrat Creigh Deeds) in a race where the economy, taxes and transportation were the key issues, so it's specious for Helderman to paint the governor-elect as though he were someone of whom moderate voters were skeptical.
A petulant Washington Post columnist -- who two months ago insisted "Reality Makes Gay Marriage Debate Obsolete" -- took to her computer yesterday to hack out a screed against the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, painting the Church as "uncharitable and cruel" reactionaries, playing "political hardball with the District" and literally throwing the homeless out into the cold November rain.
Allison Kilkenny, a self-styled “political humorist,” ripped the Catholic Church on the Huffington Post on Thursday for threatening to pull the plug in its social services in Washington, DC if same-sex “marriage” is legalized there. Kilkenny labeled the Church the “Inexplicably Evil Organization Most Disconnected From Real People,” and bashed Pope Benedict XVI as a “decrepit former Nazi youth.”
The “humorist” (pictured at right, courtesy of Wikimedia) began her screed, titled “Catholic Church Threatens to Stop Feeding Homeless Over Gay Marriage,” by comparing the Church to Goldman Sachs, and used her “evil” label only after three sentences (perhaps showing a bit of restraint on her part): “A few days ago, I wrote about Goldman Sachs’s transition from a bank holding company into a public relations disaster machine. I argued that Goldman’s CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, has been behaving like he wants to be attacked by a ferocious mob. Now, it appears the Catholic church is determined to unseat Blankfein in the ‘Inexplicably Evil Organization Most Disconnected From Real People’ category.”
Four paragraphs later, after spinning the content of the Archdiocese of Washington’s November 10 letter to the DC city council (which warned that the proposed legislation which would legalize same-sex “marriage” wouldn’t “permit Catholic Charities and other religious service organization to freely function as religious entities serving the needs of the District” and called for the expansion of “appropriate safeguards to protect religious freedom and to preserve the ability of...service providers to continue to serve the...unmet needs of the residents of the District”), Kilkenny used the tried-and-true priest sex abuse bludgeon against the Church (language warning):
"The clergy should stay off Capitol Hill," MSNBC's Chris Matthews flatly declared on the November 10 "Hardball." Matthews fumed with disgust as Politico's Jonathan Allen told him that Catholic bishops lobbied Democrats to pass the pro-life Stupak Amendment to the Democratic health care reform bill last week.
"I understand the [pro-life] argument" that the bishops brought to the table, Matthews added, but huffed that they should not "show up" on the Hill.
After the commercial break, Matthews took to the air again to clarify that it was not in fact bishops but staffers with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) who lobbied the Democrats. Such a distinction, he insisted, was important.
In a bleary-eyed opinion article in the Sunday Boston Globe (11/8/09), Harvard divinity professor Harvey Cox denounces religious "fundamentalism." In doing so, he places mass-murdering Muslims from the Middle East on the same playing field as conservative Christians from the United States. From Cox's article:
As the 20th century ended and a new one began, fundamentalism has taken on more formidable shapes, both politically and religiously. Though most of its adherents work through spiritual and educational channels, the small minority that turn to violence have caught the media’s attention. If some seem ready to die for faith, others are ready to kill for it, gunning down abortion doctors in church, hijacking planes, and exploding bombs at weddings. For plenty of thoughtful people, fundamentalism has come to represent the most dangerous threat to open societies since the fall of communism.
Andrea Elliott’s front page article in the November 9 New York Times played up the thousands of Muslims in the U.S. military and how their “service...is more necessary and more complicated than ever before,” but gave the false impression that a Medal of Honor recipient named near the end of her piece was a Muslim himself, when he was actually Catholic.
Elliott spent much of her article, “Complications Grow for Muslims Serving in the U.S. Military” (which appeared above the fold on the front page of the print edition of the Times), detailing the concerns of “many Muslim soldiers and their commanders...[who] fear that the relationship between the military and its Muslim service members will only grow more difficult” after Major Nidal Malik Hasan’s shooting rampage at Fort Hood on November 5. She later noted that “[w]hatever his possible motives, the emerging portrait of Major Hasan’s life in the military casts light on some of the struggles and frustrations felt by other Muslims in the services.”
Near the end of the article, Elliott changed the subject ever so slightly that it might have gone unnoticed. The reporter quoted Captain Erich Rahman, an Iraq war veteran and Bronze Star winner: “Too many Americans overlook the heroic efforts of Arab-Americans in uniform, said Capt. Eric Rahman...He cited the example of Lieutenant Michael A. Monsoor, a Navy Seal who was awarded the Medal of Honor after pulling a team member to safety during firefight in 2006, in Ramadi, Iraq. Lieutenant Monsoor died saving another American, yet he will never be remembered like Major Hasan, said Captain Rahman. Regardless, he said, Muslim- and Arab-Americans are crucial to the military’s success in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
On Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer tried to provide some perspective on the Fort Hood shooting, committed by an Islamic extremist: “It’s looking more and more like he was just, sort of, a religious nut. And you know Islam doesn’t have a majority – or the Christian religion has its full, you know, full helping of nuts too.”
Schieffer made the comments while speaking to Senator Lindsey Graham, who agreed that Muslims do not have “a corner” on extremism. Schieffer went on to wonder what role political correctness played in the shooter, Major Nidal Hasan, not being held accountable for radical comments he made prior to the attack: “Do you think the fact that he was a Muslim may have caused the military to kind of step back and be reluctant to challenge him on some of this stuff for fear that they’d be accused of discrimination or something like that?”
Graham replied: “I hope not. I hope – I hope that’s not the case....his actions do not reflect on the Islamic – Muslim faith” Schieffer added: “Well, I’m not suggesting that they do.” Promoting the very political correctness that Schieffer asked about, Graham argued: “But some people are. Some people are, and I want to say, as a United States Senator, that I reject that....Let’s don’t accuse people of basically giving him a pass because he’s a Muslim. Because I don’t think there’s any evidence of that.”
Each Saturday, the Washington Post prints an "On Faith" page in the Metro section. Part of the feature is a "From the panel" digest with a few excerpts from opinion leaders from various faiths and theological schools of thought. "On Faith" editors select a sampling of the panelists for the print digest but direct readers to the "On Faith" Web page for more opinions.
Well today, the panel discussion topic was the role of "end-of-life counseling" in health care reform. The Post had space to print but four panelists, and surprise, surprise, they were all for "end-of-life counseling" as an integral part of federal health care reform.
One panelist, Robert Parham of the Baptist Center for Ethics, even took it upon himself to slam the "shameful" "political deception" of "Sarah Palin, the Christian Right and many Republicans who have tried to sabotage healt-care reform with the canard of 'death panels.'"
Yet not all On Faith panelists were in agreement with this sentiment, such as conservative evangelical Christian Chuck Colson, who was not excerpted in print but made an excellent conservative case in his post on the On Faith page, published yesterday at 9:36 a.m. EST: