CNN, following in the footsteps of ABCNews.com’s overblown take on the subject, couldn’t help but to insert snotty language into its report on the Catholic Diocese of Rome’s denial to the filming of the movie adaptation of Dan Brown’s "Angels and Demons." CNN international correspondent Jennifer Eccleston, closing her report on Thursday’s "American Morning," labeled the Church’s refusal, based on "The Da Vinci Code" book and movie’s bashing of the Catholic faith, "a big problem in Rome, where some sins are just too grave to be forgiven -- even if they're for art's sake."
"Sins" that are "just too grave to be forgiven" calls to mind Matthew 12:32, where Jesus Christ refers to blasphemy against the Holy Ghost as a sin that won’t be forgiven "neither in this world, nor in the world to come." It isn’t certain that Eccleston had this scriptural quotation in mind, but she certainly gave the impression that the Church is being "un-Christian" for not letting Ron Howard and Tom Hanks film there.
ABCNews.com, reporting on the Catholic Diocese of Rome refusing permission to Ron Howard’s plans to film the movie prequel to Dan Brown’s "The DaVinci Code" in two historic churches, used loaded wording in the headline: "Church Cracks Down on New ‘Da Vinci’ Film."
The lead for the report, written by Phoebe Natanson and Luchina Fisher, also used similar imagery to describe the Catholic Church’s refusal: "Once again, the Catholic Church is coming down hard on writer Dan Brown, the author of ‘The Da Vinci Code.’ The producers of Brown's latest thriller to be made into a film, ‘Angels and Demons,’ have been banned from filming key scenes inside any church in Rome, on the grounds that the book is "an offense against God," according to a church spokesman.
Speaking of "coming down hard," wasn’t Brown doing just that in "The Da Vinci Code" by depicting the Catholic Church as a nefarious organization?
I noticed this photo accompanying an unrelated and relatively straightforward AP story at MSNBC.com about Barack Obama's electoral strategy. As you can see, it falls into the Obama-as-messiah mold, albeit a little more subliminal and requiring more biblical literacy than previous still shots:
Photo by Alex Brandon/AP. Caption: "Sen. Barack Obama walks to the pulpit to speak at the Apostolic Church of God service about fatherhood in Chicago on Sunday."
As you can see from the photo, the background is a brick wall with the text "Jesus Christ Is Lord" emblazoned beneath a depiction of a descending dove. Depicting Obama beneath it evokes to the biblically literate reader the account of the descent of the Holy Spirit as a dove upon Jesus after his baptism, as recorded in all four gospel accounts.
On the one hand, I have to give the Washington Post some credit for its biased June 16 story about a new pro-life pharmacy set to open in northern Virginia this summer. Even with its less-than-fair treatment, it informs pro-life readers of a new pharmacy they may wish to patronize. Of course the store opening is worthy of news coverage for a number of reasons, such as the intersection of faith and professional ethics in health care, but unfortunately, staffer Rob Stein started right off the bat slanting coverage in a way to disparage the enterprise.
When DMC Pharmacy opens this summer on Route 50 in Chantilly, the shelves will be stocked with allergy remedies, pain relievers, antiseptic ointments and almost everything else sold in any drugstore. But anyone who wants condoms, birth control pills or the Plan B emergency contraceptive will be turned away.
Chicago Tribune religion reporter and blogger Manya Brachear echoed a familiar liberal media meme about orthodox Christianity in her latest "The Seeker" blog post, "Have Southern Baptists lost their way?" (emphases mine):
As a number of conservative Protestant denominations now face decline, leaders have chosen to batten down the hatches, endorse orthodoxy and herald the importance of sharing their faith with others.
But if these denominations narrow their theology at the same time they widen their outreach, is anybody going to listen?
My colleague Tim Graham and I have found over the years that religion reporting in the secular media is often lacking any exploration of the one thing most of us who actually geek out over religion news want to see given attention in the press: theological disputes. After all, what's the point of having a reporter cover religion if you're not going to have him or her go into the substantial theological battle lines drawn in a given church or denomination.
In her June 11 article, "Southern Baptists Elect New Leader," Washington Post's Jacqueline Salmon completely failed to report on such a major theological implication in the Protestant denomination's election of the Rev. Johnny M. Hunt as convention president.True to liberal media form, Salmon boiled down Hunt and his supporters as the "fundamentalist wing" who are "hard line on the inerrancy of scripture" and opposed to the more relaxed "young reformers" who have questioned the old line Baptists on "its bans on alcohol consumption and female pastors."
Yet Salmon neglected one major theological debate roiling in the SBC that is part of a wider centuries-old conflict: Calvinism vs. Arminianism. Wrote Christianity Today's Ted Olsen in a June 10 post:
In the Washington Post's June 5 Prince George's County Extra insert, staffer Hamil Harris penned a story focused on how Barack Obama's decision to leave his controversial church "is not sitting well with some African American pastors and scholars in Prince George's County."
Harris went on to quote two preachers disappointed with Obama, as well as University of Maryland's Ronald Walters, a reliably liberal pundit. The closest Harris found to being critical of Obama's former church was a pastor who conceded that some ministers may need to "rethink how [their] message of liberation is being communicated."
At no point in Harris's 11-paragraph story, however, did he pick up on any county clergy who have strong misgivings about Rev. Jeremiah Wright or Trinity's theology and its impact on the faith community.
Perhaps Harris should add Prince George's County minister Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr. to his Rolodex. Jackson serves as the senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md., and has devoted at least two of his recent Townhall.com columns to critiquing the theology and temperment of Obama's former senior pastor. From Jackson's May 5 column, "The Way That Seems Wright" (emphasis mine):
CNN’s Kyra Phillips and Suzanne Malveaux fretted over Barack Obama’s recent decision to leave his "controversial church" during a segment on Monday’s "American Morning." During her introduction to Malveaux’s report on the decision, Phillips lamented, "You know, he's getting criticized -- okay, he acting like a typical politician.... He's bailing out of the church. Well, he would have been accused of the same type of things if he stayed in the church. He can't win." Malveaux responded, "The things is, you know, Kyra, this was a personal decision. It was a political decision, but also a personal decision. When I interviewed Michelle Obama, they talked about the kind of pain that -- actually disassociating themselves from Reverend Wright...."
Both before and after her report, Malveaux guessed that the fact that the Obamas "had no control over the church" contributed to their decision to leave.
On Monday's "Good Morning America," the morning show featured a new religious expert who explained away some of the radical statements heard at Barack Obama's now former church. Father Edward Beck, the host of "Faith Matters Now" on ABC News's video site ABC News Now, also defended Father Michael Pfleger, the latest religious leader to make incendiary remarks at Trinity United Church. (In a video, Pfleger can be heard condemning, "I also believe that America is the greatest sin against God.") Co-host Chris Cuomo prompted, "You say he's much more than how he's being characterized as this kind of bad parody of an African-American preacher. Tell me."
Responding to the softball, Beck justified, "Well, everybody is more than a few sound bites can demonstrate." The two, along with NPR analyst Juan Williams were discussing not only Pfleger, but also the enthusiastic response the mostly African American congregation gave him and (on other occasions) the incendiary Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Again, Beck, who was appearing on GMA for the first time as a religious expert, offered standard liberal guilt by asserting, "But I think you have to understand underneath [the congregation's cheering] there is real sentiment. There is a feeling of being disenfranchised."
Who says there's no humor in politics? Obama communications director Robert Gibbs went on ABC's This Week today, and in one of the better deadpan bits since Buster Keaton actually said that Barack Obama's decision to quit the Trinity United Church of Christ was "not political."
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: In Philadelphia, just in April, Senator Obama said of Reverend Wright "I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community." Now he's cut all ties to Reverend Wright, and left his church. What is it a mistake to wait this long?
ROBERT GIBBS: No, George. I think obviously what Barack Obama made in the past few days is a deeply personal, not a political decision. And as you heard the reasoning, he made that decision for two reasons. One, even guest speakers that were at Trinity, their views were ascribed to him even though he didn't hold those views, and secondly, the members of Trinity couldn't do what members of a church do, and that is, sit in quiet reflection and worship God.
Father Michael Pfleger, whose endorsement of Barack Obama until recently appeared on the official Obama website, mocks Hillary Clinton's tears during a sermon at Obama's church, the Trinity United Church of Christ, on May 25, 2008.
[Update (16:33 EDT): The AP has changed its lede to read "The Vatican insisted Friday that it is properly following Christian tradition by excluding females from the priesthood as it issued a new warning that women taking part in ordinations will be excommunicated." (h/t Damian G. of Conservathink).]
According to the Associated Press, the Vatican is "slamming the door on attempts by women to become priests in the Roman Catholic Church." But it's rather hard to slam shut a door that was never open, which is what Catholic Church teaching holds about women serving in the priesthood.
From a May 30 article entitled "Vatican: excommunication for female priests" (paragraph break removed):
VATICAN CITY - The Vatican is slamming the door on attempts by women to become priests in the Roman Catholic Church. It has strongly reiterated in a decree that anyone involved in ordination ceremonies is automatically excommunicated. A top Vatican official said in a statement Friday that the church acted following what it called "so-called ordinations" in various parts of the world.
Yet far from "slamming" shut the possibility of female priests, the Catholic Church holds that God, speaking to His people through the words of Scripture -- not the Pope or the Church -- bars women from clerical office. This, however, by no means diminishes the role of women in the life of the church, as Catholic apologist Jason Evert explains (emphasis mine):
Mika Brzezinski realizes that the latest looniness emanating from Barack Obama's church poses political problems for the presidential candidate. But as a person of pallor, the ever-so-PC Morning Joe-er doesn't want to judge a black church—even when the most recent rantings come from the mouth of . . . a white preacher.
Morning Joe opened today with a clip of Father Michael Pfleger guest-preaching this past Sunday at Obama's Trinity United Church of Christ. Pfleger, a fixture on the radical Chicago scene whose endorsement of Obama [h/t Michelle Malkin] until recently appeared on the official Obama campaign website, mocked Hillary Clinton's New Hampshire tears as a sign of her frustrated sense of white entitlement. The screencap shows Pfleger making like Hillary wiping away those tears.
(Watch video above, context included, fast-forward to 3:40 for Brzezinski's humorous comment.)
But while acknowledging the headache Pfleger poses for Obama, Mika was oh-so-loath to comment on the substance or tone of the remarks themselves. Excerpts from her discussion with Tucker Carlson, Mike Barnicle and Willie Geist:
Eat your heart out Lyndon LaRouche. The Trilateral Commission is so 1970s. It's really "The Fellowship" that's really running the world according to religion professor Jeff Sharlet in his new book "The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power."
Despite being a fanciful yet unsubstantiated conspiracy theory, U.S. News & World Report dignified Sharlet's take on a little-known Christian organization with a May 28 article by Jay Tolson entitled "Exposing a Network of Powerful Christians.":
It is an elite and secretive network of fundamentalist Christians that has been quietly pulling strings in America's highest corridors of power for more than 70 years. Or so claims Jeff Sharlet, author of a new exposé, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. And in his telling, the group that calls itself the Fellowship operates at the very center of the vast, right-wing conspiracy that has promoted unfettered capitalism and dismantled liberal social policies at home, even while encouraging ruthless but America-friendly dictators abroad.
Los Angeles Times media critic Tim Rutten, in his latest column titled "The rebirth of abortion," voiced his dismay that social conservatives are reviving the issue of abortion in the 2008 presidential campaign. "If there's one issue that epitomizes the culture wars that have so deeply divided American politics over the last eight years, it's abortion. That's why those who benefited most from those wars are desperate to revive abortion's single-issue virulence in this presidential cycle." He continued that "some on the right think they see an opportunity to hammer once more on the abortion wedge."
Rutten also launched an attack one key member of the so-called "hard cultural right:" Robert Novak. At one point, Rutten suggested that if Novak used a phrase like "abortion industry" to describe abortionists and their supporters, it would be legitimate to use a term like "under the sway of neo-fascist clericism" to describe Novak and his pro-life fellow travelers.
"Good Morning America" on Thursday picked up an attack on John McCain that has grown popular in left-wing media outlets and turned it into a Brian Ross investigation of the senator's "pastor problem." In a preview, co-host Diane Sawyer solemnly intoned, "This morning, John McCain's pastor problem. Is the preacher McCain calls a spiritual guide fueling the fire of Muslim hatred in America?" Investigative reporter Ross then preceded to warn how the Arizona senator's appearance with a pastor who loudly attacked Islam has "badly complicated" McCain's attempts to reach out to the Muslim world. [audio available here]
Where did Ross find the various clips of the Reverend Rod Parsley condemning Islam and standing on a podium with John McCain? The story has already been touted in liberal outlets such as Mother Jones magazine and heavily featured on the website Brave New Films,a creation of Robert Greenwald, best known for documentaries bashing Fox News and Wal Mart. (Despite this, Sawyer touted the "exclusive" nature of the investigation.) Additionally, the web version of Ross's story featured a misleading attempt to more closely associate McCain and Parsley. The ABC News headline asserted: "McCain Pastor: Islam Is a 'Conspiracy of Spiritual Evil.'" McCain's pastor? The Republican presidential candidate sought the reverend's support in February 2008. McCain is not a member of Parsley's World Harvest Church in Columbus, Ohio.
Contrary to what was written and said in the liberal media Jerry Falwell held political beliefs that were actually quite "middle of the road" with regard to key cultural questions such as abortion, birth control, school prayer and homosexuality, according to a new biography written by his widow.
"While he opposed abortion, Jerry would have accepted legislation that allowed it in the case of rape, incest or if the mother's life was in danger," Macel Falwell tells readers in her new book "Jerry Falwell: His Life and Legacy." Moreover, Falwell believed the civil rights of homosexuals should be safeguarded, despite harboring moral objections to the homosexual lifestyle, she explains.
The prominent televangelist and evangelical Christian pastor, who co-founded the "Moral Majority" in the late 1970s, was a congenial, likable man many steps removed from the "bizarre public persona" incorporated into media portraits, Falwell observes in one of her earlier chapters.
The second film based on the Narnia books, "Prince Caspian," roared like Aslan the lion at the box office in its first weekend, grossing an impressive $56 million in theaters, and supplanting "Iron Man" as the most successful movie in America.
Why the continued success of the "Chronicles of Narnia" films? Time movie reviewer Richard Corliss takes a stab at that question, with a unique angle, comparing "Caspian" to "The Golden Compass," the first movie installment of Philip Pullman’s dark atheist trilogy which viciously attacked God, Christianity, and the Catholic Church in particular.
"Narnia" author C. S. Lewis was a fervent Christian theologian. "Compass" creator Pullman proclaimed his books were about "killing God."
Like choosing Rosie O'Donnell to vouch that someone isn't a 9-11 conspiracy nut?
Of all the people Mika Brzezinski might have selected as a character reference for her father when he was portrayed as a problem for Obama with Jewish voters, Pat Buchanan isn't the first one who springs to mind. Yet that's who Mika [subbing as host for Joe Scarborough, home in Florida awaiting the birth of a baby] called on to defend her dad on today's Morning Joe.
The odd endorsement came at about 6:35 AM EDT today, after Mika highlighted an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal by Global View columnist [and former Jerusalem Post editor] Bret Stephens entitled Obama and the Jews. Stephens's item contained these lines [emphasis added]:
Mollie at the Get Religion blog reports that the Obama campaign is circulating a pamphlet in Kentucky with Barack Obama standing in the pulpit with a gleaming cross behind him, and she wonders where all the media fuss is, compared to the hoots and hollers when Mike Huckabee put a slightly subliminal cross image in one ad and said he was a "Christian Leader" in another. On Thursday, the Washington Post ran a brief item:
The pamphlet has circulated in other primary states and is striking for its overt appeal on religion. The words across the top read “Faith. Hope. Change.” Obama is pictured at a church pulpit, with a large illuminated cross in the background. A quote at the bottom reads: “My faith teaches me that I can sit in church and pray all I want, but I won’t be fulfilling God’s will unless I go out and do the Lord’s work.”
Post reporter Shailagh Murray mentioned the campaign is seeking "to counteract the persistent and false belief held by some voters that Obama is Muslim," and to avoid a loss as wide as the one in West Virginia. But she makes no mention of Trinity United Church of Christ or Jeremiah Wright.
On May 13, John McCain supporter John Hagee issued an apology to the Catholic League for controversial anti-Catholic comments he's made in the past. "Catholic League President William Donoghue [sic] accepted the apology," noted Washington Post's Michael D. Shear in the midst of his 8-paragraph story published the following day.
Shear closed by noting that "[n]ot all Catholics were mollified" by Hagee's letter of apology, citing "Alexia Kelley, executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good." Shear failed to label Kelley nor the Alliance as liberal, although a visit to their Web site makes it pretty clear their political agenda skews in favor of liberal Democratic social welfare initiatives.
But more telling is this: Kelley used to work for the DNC during the Kerry campaign as Director of Religious Outreach. Catholic or no, it's not all that surprising that the former liberal Democratic Party staffer would refuse to let the Hagee matter drop in a tense election year when presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has his own share of problems, to say the least, with loopy clergymen in his corner.
Over a three day stretch, ABC devoted almost 15 minutes of air-time to a documentary filmmaker who asserts in his movie "Bloodline" that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a massive hoax perpetrated on humanity. Additionally, on Friday's "Nightline," reporter Elizabeth Vargas left out any mention of the bizarre interests of the film's director, Bruce Burgess. He's directed and written documentaries on Bigfoot, the Bermuda Triangle, Area 51 and a secretive look at a U.S. government's supposed cover-up of the alien landings at Roswell.
Wouldn't it be relevant to know that Burgess seems to be fascinated with every weird conspiracy imaginable? (And hasn't the mainstream media mocked bloggers for not being restrained journalists? How serious is Bigfoot and the the subject of the Bermuda Triangle?) On Sunday's "Good Morning America," Burgess's second stop on his ABC tour, co-host Bill Weir at least asked about his extravagant interests: "I do have to point out the fact that some of your other documentary work includes the Bermuda Triangle, Area 51, looking for Bigfoot in Oklahoma." (NewsBusters' Mark Finkelstein blogged this appearance.)
This is a much more serious sin than the folly I noted earlier today from ABCNews.com coverage of a Bill Clinton visit to a "Pentacostal" church.
On May 1, Christianity Today's Sarah Pulliam took to her magazine's Liveblog to address ABCNews.com's numerous errors in reporting on a faculty matter at evangelical Wheaton College:
ABC's report of Wheaton College professor Kent Gramm's resignation was an example of sloppy journalism and weak analysis.
The original headline was simply false: "Professor Fired for Getting a Divorce." Gramm was not fired. He resigned because he declined to talk with the college about his divorce. (The image to the right is a screen shot of an earlier version)
Later today, ABC changed the headline to "Professor Loses Job Over Divorce." The headline is still not quite accurate. To lose your job generally indicates that someone took it away from you. However, Gramm voluntarily resigned. And according to the Chicago Tribune, the college offered him another year of employment while he searched for another job.
Former President Bill Clinton pinged ABCNews.com's Political Radar on a pulpit-pounding campaign swing through the Tarheel State just two days before the North Carolina primary. But it appears the alphabet network's Web site not only got the name of an Asheville, N.C., church wrong, but it misspelled, three times, the name of a denomination within Protestant Christianity (emphasis mine) in this May 4 blog post (screencap below fold):
ABC News' Sarah Amos reports: Former President Bill Clinton spent time in two western North Carolina churches this morning, speaking more from his heart than any sort of political handbook.
"I didn't come here to ask you to vote for my wife," said Clinton, addressing the congregation at Church of the Pentacostal in Asheville, N.C. "I came here to ask you to pray for her. And to vote. Do whatever you want. Show up. Our country is in dire distress.
Imagine that a "documentary" film-maker—whose most notable former credit was a work advancing the notion that extra-terrestrials did indeed visit Area 51—brought forth a new work suggesting that key elements of the Prophet Mohammed's story had been fabricated. What are the odds ABC would devote a segment of Good Morning America to a respectful interview of the filmmaker and discussion of his work?
But that's exactly what ABC did regarding someone who has produced a documentary ["Bloodline"] calling into question key aspects of the story of Jesus Christ. Here's how GMA weekend co-anchor Bill Weir introduced the segment this morning:
Well, here's a question, was Jesus married with children? Was the Resurrection a trick pulled off by his widow? The possibility, the world's greatest cover-up, was the basis of the smash novel and movie The Da Vinci Code. And though those ideas have been largely dismissed by academics as fiction, documentary film-maker Bruce Burgess believes he has now found evidence to advance that theory. Here's a clip from his new film.
On May 2, the Associated Press uncritically reported that an effort to clarify where "evangelicals" stand in the culture/political war in America is soon to be released. It is to be called "An Evangelical Manifesto" and is touted by the AP as a statement by "evangelicals" that "faith is now too political." That isn't all. The AP is claiming that it isn't just Christian leaders in general that are saying this but that it is "conservative Christian leaders" who are standing up and denouncing politics in religion. But a little investigation proves that "conservative leaders" is not a very good description of those who have signed onto this "manifesto." In fact, many of the most well-known conservative Christian leaders in the country have decided not to sign onto the "manifesto" and many more weren't even consulted or included in the creation of this highly political document that pretends it stands against politics.
Sadly, this "manifesto" that is claiming to want to take religion back from its political involvement is itself a political statement, one that was created by people that refused to include Christian leaders from the right side of the political spectrum. This so-called "manifesto" seems to be just another attempt by the political left to undermine the devotion of Christians to the political right.
ABC reporter Claire Shipman filed a report from Rome on Friday in which she breathlessly informed viewers that "many Catholics are rethinking their views of [Pope] Benedict XVI." According to Shipman, "most [U.S.] Catholics" thought, at the time of his selection, that Benedict "might clash with American values." Throughout the segment, which aired on "Good Morning America," Shipman appeared shocked at how well the pontiff's April trip to the United States went. [audio available here]
Shipman even trotted out the media's favorite insulting epithet for the Pope. She derided, "Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as the pontiff used to be known, was considered a stern hard-liner, nicknamed 'God's rottweiler.'" After mentioning Benedict's visit to a U.S. synagogue, his meeting with victims of sexual abuse by priests, the journalist marveled, "Could this Pope so many had written off as a tough guy be a teddy bear in disguise?" Wouldn't it be more honest to admit that the "many" and "most" Shipman kept referring to are actually members of the media? After all, most Catholics hadn't heard of Joseph Ratzinger when he was chosen to be pope in April of 2005. ABC reporters, on the other hand, quickly made their thoughts on the selection clear.
Though she leavened it with considerable levity, there's no escaping the bottom line: Mika Brzezinski sees Pat Buchanan as a nut. An affable one, to be sure. Even one with interesting things to say. But at heart, a nut. A "crazy uncle" fit for the same crate of cracked pots as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
The prelude was Mika's reading of an excerpt from a brilliant essay by Charles Krauthammer in today's WaPo. Writing of Obama's recent attempt to definitively hurl Rev. Wright under the Greyhound, Krauthammer observed:
It's hard to think of an act more blatantly expedient than renouncing Wright when his show, once done from the press club instead of the pulpit, could no longer be "contextualized" as something whites could not understand and only Obama could explain in all its complexity.
Turns out the Wright show was not that complex after all. Everyone understands it now. Even Obama.
Yes, that was the headline and subhead for Mark Moford's column in the San Francisco Chronicle today. Not only does the very title of this screed of ignominious proportions rip into the first lady for no worthy reason, Moford also says that being a Catholic woman is "unfortunate." Shamefully, he also calls the Bush daughters their "twin Styrofoam peanut daughters," so it isn't just Laura Bush he unduly attacks. It's been a long time since a major newspaper has published a so-called editorial with this much vitriol contained within.
Moford tries to explain why conservative women find themselves raising an eyebrow at loudmouthed women like Teresa Heinz Kerry and Hillary Clinton (when she was first lady) but he completely mischaracterizes why people react to them the way they do as mere distaste of their gauche personalities as opposed to opposition to their ideologies and a feeling that such women overstep their boundaries.
Was Barack Obama's denunciation of Rev. Wright yesterday just some ginned-up anger, a show for the cameras—and the voters? You might think so, to judge by Andrea Mitchell's surprising revelation on today's Morning Joe . . .
JOE SCARBOROUGH: What do you think of the Obama statement yesterday? Was it enough to finally put this behind him?
ANDREA MITCHELL: Perhaps, yes. He had to do it. This thing had been a nagging, you know, problem, an open wound really. This was a very public divorce. I should point out, though, that quite to my surprise when he was out on the stump last night, once again Obama was kind of trivializing it, saying "well, my opponents are making fun of me, and trying to define me, and saying I don't put my hand over my heart, and they talk about my former pastor's crazy statements." So he was trying to blame it on McCain, Hillary, whoever, rather than on what he earlier said in a very specific and dramatic way.