Update (13 Feb. | Ken Shepherd): Tomaso responds here, dismissing the notion that he exhibited any liberal bias. Commenters to his blog post are divided.
Condescending secular elitism isn’t just for the coasts anymore. It can even come from red state Texas.
On The Dallas Morning News’s Religion blog Feb. 12, Bruce Tomaso wrote a post called “Alabama and Iran Have Something in Common.” It stemmed from a recent Gallup poll that asked people around the world, “How important is religion in your daily life?” The poll found, among many other things, that nearly the same percentage of the population of Iran (83 percent) and Alabama (82 percent) said that religion was important to them.
Tomaso thought this was a riot: “Since I've never been to Iran and haven't spent enough time in Alabama to have a well-formed opinion, I refrain from cleverly drawing further comparisons,” he wrote. “But that doesn't mean you wiseakers can't!”
That's how Chicago Tribune religion blogger Manya Brachear began her Feb. 11 The Seeker blog post, practically considering the Pope to be another politician who must watch out for how his PR blunders affect his poll numbers (emphasis mine):
Shortly after Pope Benedict XVI quelled concerns last week regarding the excommunication of a Holocaust denier, he caused another stir closer to home. He reportedly tapped a bishop who once described Hurricane Katrina as God’s punishment for sin and debauchery in New Orleans.
According to the Times of London, Father Gerhard Maria Wagner, an ultraconservative parish priest at Windischgarsten in Austria, published his theory of divine retribution in his parish newsletter four years ago.
President Barack Obama's pick to head his faith-based initiative is a 26-year old former Pentecostal pastor by the name of Joshua DuBois. The media have largely noted DuBois's religious affiliation in a matter-of-fact manner.
In a Newsweek Web exclusive, Lisa Miller and Amanda Coyne set out to find something juicy about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's house of worship, Wasilla Bible Church. But finding a "staid" worship environment that "steer[s] clear of politics" and whose main attraction is Biblical preaching, they opted to focus on where the governor used to worship regularly years ago, an Assemblies of God church:
Pentecostalism is one of the fastest growing branches of Christianity in the world, and the Assemblies of God is one of the largest Pentecostal denominations in the country, claiming 1.6 million members. Pentecostals are generally characterized by a strict adherence to moral codes--no tobacco, no alcohol, no social dancing, no sex outside of marriage--and by their belief that the Holy Spirit bestows upon some the gift of "speaking in tongues," a reference to Acts 2: "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues." A spokeswoman for the McCain-Palin campaign has said that Palin attends many churches and does not consider herself to be Pentecostal.
Maddow explained how this provision had been in the bill for over 40 years, then played a portion of DeMint's speech on her Feb. 6 MSNBC show.
"Student's can't meet together in their dorms, if that dorm has been repaired with this federal money and have a prayer group or a Bible study," DeMint said in the clip Maddow played. "[S]omeone is so hostile to religion that they're willing to stand in the schoolhouse door like the infamous George Wallace to deny people of faith from entering any campus building renovated by this bill. This cannot stand."
As we've stated before, no one can challenge the awful harm wrecked upon youth at the hands of Catholic clergy. The harm is real, incredibly sad, and unspeakably damaging. But that is no excuse for the Los Angeles Times to continue its dishonest practice of false and misleading presentations on the narrative of Cardinal Roger Mahony and the Los Angeles Catholic Church abuse scandal.
The Washington Post's Susan Kinzie whipped up a 12-paragraph Metro section article for the February 3 paper on an apology by George Washington University College Democrats for the action of an unnamed member who defaced crosses used by the campus Young America's Foundation chapter for a recent pro-life demonstration.
Kinzie then noted that student "admitted responsibility and had been expelled" from the College Dems but that the "alleged offender" was not named by the campus group and will "face action through the code of student conduct" according to GWU officials.
While it's laudable that Kinzie has reported this story, it's unlikely that the Post will milk the incident for outrage, as it did with the display of a small noose at the University of Maryland in September 2007. A Nexis search shows a total of nine stories or news briefs that mention that incident during that month alone.
What's more, while a September 10, 2007 article on the UMd. noose included an Associated Press video on the Web site edition, neither Kinzie's February 3 print or Web articles included photos of the desecrated crosses, even though there are some available online.
Blogger Pat Dollard has the photos on his eponymous site, and I've included one of them below. You can judge for yourself, but to this writer, Kinzie's description doesn't do justice to just how sacrilegious the vandalism was:
Does anyone think that a major newspaper like the Los Angeles Times would ever allow a hateful and patently false anti-Semitic or anti-Muslim personal attack to be published in its letters to the editor? Of course not. But check out this whopper of anti-Catholic vitriol that is in the pages of the Times today (Mon. 2/2/09):
The Jesuits have a saying, "Give me the boy until he is 7, and I will give you the man." You can now add, "Give Adolf Hitler the boy until he is 7, and he will give you the pope."
ABC has apparently never heard that phrase, "There are two sides to every story." On Feb. 1, "World News Sunday" helped shamed former-pastor Ted Haggard take shots at the Christian conservatives who he says "shunned him."
Reporter Dan Harris introduced the piece by qualifying Haggard as a former "insider, a powerful pastor at the highest levels of the Christian conservative movement."
Haggard, who made headlines two years ago for getting caught in a gay sex scandal, is now offering advice to the Christian conservative movement; and ABC gave him the megaphone. Here is a portion of Harris' interview with Haggard:
As we've noted severaltimesbefore, Los Angeles Times Opinion Editor Tim Rutten hardly misses an opportunity to bash the Catholic Church. So imagine my shock and amazement when I picked up his Saturday column (1/30/09). Rutten rips a reported federal grand jury investigation of L.A. Cardinal Roger Mahony's handling of the abuse scandal as "frivolous" and "overreaching." (For the record, the archdiocese's attorney has said that he was told that Mahony is not a target of an inquiry.)
Did a wave of clarity and sanity suddenly overcome Rutten? Rather than bellowing the hysterical falsehoods that have often been aired in the Times and in the media in recent years, Rutten's must-read piece wipes away a number of myths.
Evangelical magazine Christianity Today is using the term "anti-abortion," rather than "pro-life," to refer to a CatholicVote.com ad which NBC has refused to air during the Super Bowl. (h/t @pdavidy8)
The term "anti-abortion" isn't used by reporter Sarah Pulliam in the body of her article posted at CTliveblog, but it is used in her January 30 article's headline -- Anti-Abortion Super Bowl Ad Rejected by NBC -- on the magazine's Twitter page (see screencap at right).
By using "anti-abortion" in its headline, Christianity Today appears to be following the lead of the Associated Press. The AP calls for the term "anti-abortion instead of pro-life and abortion rights instead of pro-abortion or pro-choice" in its Stylebook. AP goes further and frowns on the term "abortionist," saying it "connotes a person who performs clandestine abortions," so a reporter should "use a term such as abortion doctor or abortion practitioner," it counsels.
While many journalists and news agencies outside the AP follow the Stylebook, including (for the most part) this organization, they are free to supercede the manual where they see fit. For example, our very own NewsBusters Style Guide has this mandate for our contributors:
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith played the role of amateur theologian as he interviewed disgraced evangelical pastor Ted Haggard, who had an affair with a gay prostitute, asking: "You believe that gays are sinners?...You think God hates homosexuals?" Haggard ultimately replied: "Jesus proved his faithfulness to me more than ever. You know, he said he came for the unrighteous, not for the righteous...so I don't fit into the religious righteous crowd anymore. He really came for me. I'm the chiefest of sinners." Haggard’s wife, Gayle, also added: "And I think the teachings of Jesus are forgiveness and love. And what he tells us not to do is judge." Smith liked that non-judgmental response, saying to Ted: " She says is better than you do, I'm sorry."
Throughout the segment, Smith preached moral relativism over "fundamentalist" Christian beliefs. At one point, Haggard explained why he waited so long to seek counseling: "I wish I'd done it 20 years ago, but I think the culture that I was in kept me from being able to do that." Smith replied:"Having grown up in a fundamentalist church and an evangelical background, there's -- everything is very black and white." Haggard agreed: "Very black and white." Smith then attacked Haggard’s former church: "You've spent your life building this church. This church is really, literally, your community. And your church says you have to leave this day...you have to go away. And in the best New Testament sense, isn't that the point at which the church should be embracing you?"
A liberal Catholic blogger who last November inveighed against "extremist" and "Pharasaic" bishops who have said they will deny Communion to pro-choice politicians is cited today by Dallas Morning News religion blogger Bruce Tomaso as an "abortion foe" who, surprise, surprise, has unkind words for the March for Life:
Writing for a blog of America, the Jesuit magazine, Catholic author and "pro-life American" Sean Michael Winters says the annual March for Life -- held last Thursday, on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade -- "has failed utterly to make a difference in this nation's abortion policy."
The mass protest, he says, "probably alienates the very people we should be trying to reach: women facing crisis pregnancies." The marchers' rhetoric tends "to equate abortion with murder which may be objectively true but also lacks the empathy with the desperate circumstance of many women that is the necessary precursor to an effective evangelization of the Gospel of Life."
As for his part as an "abortion foe," the liberal Winters certainly has shown a penchant for criticizing more strident foes of the slaughter of the unborn, such as bishops in his own church. From a November 19 blog post at America magazine's Web site (emphasis mine):
Back in December, you may recall, slapped around a Catholic priest and parochial school principal for pulling an Obama book off the shelves out of concern that it may push values contrary to Catholic moral teachings. Tomaso quipped that at least the priest didn't conduct a book burning.
The inauguration of the first African-American president is an historic affair, one that should be properly celebrated by all. But when the so-called "objective" network anchors begin comparing a routine political ceremony to a spiritual awakening, have they gone too far?
"Sacred." "Majesty." "Sacrament." "Pilgrimage." These are words loaded with religious and spiritual meaning. And they're words used to describe the inauguration of President Barack Obama by CBS, NBC and ABC anchors on their evening and mornings news shows.
While she pronounced his prayer as a "good job" for being generally non-offensive and inclusive-sounding, Newsweek's Lisa Miller -- who earlier this month suggested ditching inaugural prayers altogether -- was nagged by the "lingering question" that "remains" from the way evangelical pastor Rick Warren closed his inauguration ceremony invocation in the name of Jesus:
Warren's conservative theology teaches him that there is one path to God, and that is Jesus. So when he wraps his great big arms around Muslims and Jews (and homosexuals), does he really believe there's hope for us? Or is he just being nice?
Miller, as a religion reporter, should know better. Yes -- the evangelical Christian would answer -- there is hope for everyone who puts his or her hope in Christ alone, and that's why preachers like Rick Warren preach the Gospel of salvation in Christ alone. They truly believe it, and as such, it's not nice to keep the good news of salvation and peace with God to one's self for fear of the niceness cops of the media world.
Imagine for a moment that Sen. John McCain won the election in November and that John Hagee gave a sermon at Jerry Falwell-founded Liberty University the Sunday preceding the inauguration wherein he slammed the "egregious menage a trois of homosexuals, Hollywood, and hell-bound atheists" for destroying the United States.
The coverage would be non-stop and President-elect McCain would be pressed to repudiate the remarks from his stalwart evangelical supporter, even though he's already distanced himself during in the campaign.
Yet it's a vastly different story when it was Rev. Jeremiah Wright at Howard University's chapel and the "egregious menage a trois" was that of "racism, militarism and capitalism."
While his colleague Michelle Boorstein helpfully edited Wright's more embarrassing rhetoric (see more below the fold), Washington Post's Dana Milbank reminded readers just how loopy Rev. Wright is in his page A9 January 19 article, "You Thought the Jeremiad Was Over?" (emphasis mine):
In a January 18 ABC News exclusive interview, former Obama pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright confessed to, but did not repent of, his inflammatory rhetoric directed at the media. Wright's excuse:
"They were arrogant, they were evil, they were devious and I responded in kind," Wright said. "I just talked to you about a 500-year tradition but you don't ask me one question about that because that's not your interest, your interest is to taint Barack Obama. So no, I'm not going to be conservative, I'm not going to kiss anybody's behind and if I'm standing up straight you can't ride my back.
Yet apparently ABC staffers Tahman Bradley and Ferdous al-Faruque failed to question Wright on whether his demeanor from the pulpit exhibited more the gospel of class and race warfare than the gospel of Jesus Christ. What's more, Bradley and al-Faruque failed to point out that some print journalists such as Newsweek's Eleanor Clift have hailed Wright as a "prophetic" voice, something that cuts against Wright's view that the MSM has had it in for him.
A federal judge threw out a spurious lawsuit by serial atheist litigant Michael Newdow. Yet in reporting the story in its January 16 print edition, the Washington Post made it sound like a federal judge has ended the suspsense and permitted prayers to be offered at the inauguration, as though they were seriously in danger in the first place.
"Judge Clears the Way for Prayer at Swearing-In," declared the page B4 headline in the Inauguration Watch digest. Staff writer Del Quentin Wilber echoed the headline's language in his lede:
A federal judge yesterday cleared the way for government officials and ministers to pray and make references to God during the swearing-in.
Wilber explained that "U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton refused to grant an injunction in a lawsuit seeking to block such references." Nowhere in his 3-paragraph-long brief did Wilber mention Newdow by name, nor his history of frivolous litigation such as trying to remove "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance and "In God We Trust" from U.S. currency.
CBSSports.com columnist Gregg Doyel has had it with all the hero worship, the idolatry, the 'canonization' of the guy:
This one's going to hurt. It's going to hurt you, and it's going to hurt me..... It's directed at those who would beatify the man.... Because he's just a man.
No, he's not referring to President-elect Obama but rather Tim Tebow, the University of Florida quarterback who led the Gators to a national championship on January 8. Yet in his January 13 column, Doyel went from waging a legitimate complaint about excessive hero worship to hashing out liberal talking points regarding the open practice of faith by Christian athletes (emphasis mine, h/t NewsBusters commenter Blonde):
Invoking the threat of "religious fundamentalists abroad" and tacitly comparing them to religious conservatives in the United States, Newsweek's Lisa Miller advises President-elect Obama to ditch the practice of having clergy offer prayers at the presidential inauguration:
Our new president might use his Inauguration then to showcase the values that have made this country great: pluralism, moderation—and the separation of church and state. Though not as politically expedient, the better choice might be to pray in private.
Miller wrote her article for the January 19 print edition in light of a lawsuit "filed by the atheist gadfly Michael Newdow." While she noted that "[e]ven some of Newdow's ideological allies are steering clear," Miller went no further in exploring whether it may be Newdow who is showcasing a modern value that threatens the country's greatness: the filing of spurious lawsuits.
Instead, Miller sought to show that historians are uncertain just how traditional the role of religious faith plays in presidential inaugurals. Indeed, as far as Miller is concerned, the convention is all too recent and worse, a musty relic of the Cold War (emphases mine):
Perhaps the New York Times is just predestined not to get religion.
Taking on Calvinistic preacher Mark Driscoll's brand of Reformed theology, writer Molly Worthen -- herself a graduate of a formerly Puritan university -- gave readers of the New York Times magazine a skewed picture of what exactly the evangelical pastor's theology teaches about sin and redemption.
In her January 6 article, "Who Would Jesus Smack Down," Worthen -- who studied American religious history at Yale University-- portrayed the founding pastor of Seattle's Mars Hill Church as an edgy hipster "cussing" pastor who chagrins religious conservatives and liberals alike, all while confounding evangelicals with his Calvinistic take on biblical theology.
While there is a grain of truth to the characterization of Driscoll* having critics to his left and right, Worthen betrays her ignorance about Calvinism, starting in the third paragraph of her article (emphasis mine):
USA Today's religion reporter Cathy Lynn Grossman apparently has little use for Christian ministers who believe the Bible's teachings on sexual ethics.
Apparently already annoyed with evangelical pastor Rick Warren's stance on California's Proposition 8, Grossman took the California preacher to task for a letter offering use of his Saddleback Church to conservative Anglicans who have left the liberal Episcopal Church USA but were deprived of their church parish property due to a recent California court ruling (emphasis mine):
After sticking a fork in the eye of gay rights advocates by actively supporting Proposition 8 -- which overturned the legalization of gay marriage in California -- Warren compounded their outrage by equating gay marriage with incest in an interview with Beliefnet.
A group that "celebrate[s] the inherent goodness of adolescent sexuality" and calls for clergy to "speak out against... coercive parental notification and consent for reproductive health services" has just released a study that concludes by calling on American theological seminaries to go over the birds and bees with their students.
Yet in reporting on the study by the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice and Healing, Chicago Tribune's Manya Brachear failed to label the group as liberal or to find conservative theologians to dispute its arguments. [Click here for our archive on Brachear]
The conservative movement lost a great intellectual voice on Thursday. The Reverend Richard John Neuhaus died due to complications from cancer at the age of 72. Neuhaus, a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of New York, was a well-known pro-life advocate, and founded First Things in 1990, a periodical focused on advancing “a religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society.”
...[We] have lost one of America's leading public intellectuals, a man of profound wisdom and learning, and a great champion for the unborn. It was Father Neuhaus, along with his dear, long-time friend George Weigel and just a handful of others like Michael Novak, who not only championed the pro-life cause for so many years, but who gave the rest of us both the grounding and the vocabulary to speak on this issue.
The weekend edition of Good Morning America found a fellow that decided to try and live for one year "like Jesus would" but what host Bill Weir found keenly interesting is that this guy voted for Barack Obama because he felt that living like Jesus compelled him to do so. Weir also wondered if the Jesus emulator had to "forgive" his Christian community for any reaction they might have had over the fact that he voted for Barack.
Former pastor Ed Dobson of Grand Rapids, Michigan appeared on the weekend edition of GMA to briefly discuss his year of living like Jesus in a segment called "What Would Jesus Do?" Dobson talked about how hard it was to walk in Christ's path and was shaken by having to forgive and bless the terrorists in Iraq that took the life via a roadside bomb of a soldier friend of his son.
But, Dobson's vote for Barack Obama was an issue that GMA host Bill Weir was very interested in.
Would Good Morning America invite as a guest a liberal who'd never voted for a Democrat but who after a year spent trying to live like Jesus decided to vote for McCain? I doubt it. But when an evangelical who'd never voted for a Democrat spent such a year and decided to vote for Obama, GMA devoted a segment to his story
Rev. Ed Dobson is the evangelical in question, and let me begin by saying that he seems a sincere and thoughtful person. A graduate of Bob Jones University and a member of the Moral Majority's founding board, Dobson was the pastor of Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, MI until retiring in 2005 to battle Lou Gehrig's disease. He is currently a member of the administration of Cornerstone University. Dobson explained that he was inspired by A. J. Jacobs's book, The Year of Living Biblically, in which the author describes his experiences spending a year trying to obey all biblical rules.
GMA weekend co-anchor Bill Weir interviewed Dobson, and the discussion eventually turned to politics.
National Public Radio's Morning Edition celebrated the end of 2008 on New Year’s Eve with black commentator (and Huffington Post contributor) John Ridley listing the top "non-troversies" of 2008, which he defined as "what seemed monumental then, in retrospect has all the significance of a Dennis Kucinich stump speech." Ridley’s top "non-troversy" was Reverend Wright’s sermon clips about America deserving 9/11 and the U.S. government inventing AIDS. Ridley claimed he was only saying what the Robertsons and Falwells did:
And the number non-troversy of 2008? Are you ready for this? How dare Jeremiah Wright say the bigoted, hurtful things in the privacy of a black church that men of God like Pat Robertson, John Hagee, and the late Jerry Falwell said in public? Barack Obama denounces Wright, comes across as a rational black man, then delivers a historic speech on race in America and ends up in the White House. I mean, the whole thing worked out so well, I have a feeling that somewhere Wright and Obama are secretly sharing a cigar, swapping one of those terrorist fist jabs Fox News warned us about, and saying to each other, ‘We got 'em, baby. We got 'em.’
What do Bill Maher slamming Pope Benedict XVI as the criminal head of a pedophilia ring, Washington Post's Sally Quinn defending anti-American Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and Ted Turner founder prophesying environmental apocalypse have in common?
They are just three of the most outrageous quotes from the mainstream media in 2008 and were featured on the December 23 "O'Reilly Factor" in a segment with MRC's Director of Media Analysis Tim Graham.
You can view the segment in the embedded video at right.
Dusting off its occasional "This Week's Words" series, the religion section for the December 27 Washington Post chose a Christmas sermon that sounds, at least to conservative Christian ears, more like the Gospel according to Stuart Smalley --I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and gosh darn it, God likes me -- than anything by Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. The sermon series has previously served to highlight liberal messages from the capital region's pulpits.
However quick we are to see the moral deficiencies in others, God annoyingly seems to see the good in every soul.
This Christmas, we adore the Holy Child who came to Earth in a cold and drafty stable. As we look into the manger scene, if we look closely enough, we'll see something even more amazing: the love of God born in us.
Charlie Brown first asked in 1965, "Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?" Judging by the Christmas songs featured on the morning network shows during the 2008 Christmas season, his question is still relevant 43 years later.
Researchers at the Culture and Media Institute analyzed the songs artists performed during appearances on ABC’s "Good Morning America," NBC’s "Today," and CBS’ "The Early Show" between October 31 and Dec. 16 and found that only six out of the 22 Christmas songs performed on the morning shows had religious themes.
Performers on ABC failed to highlight religious carols but did offer viewers a dose of liberal politics disguised as Christmas cheer. Melissa Etheridge ("A New Thought for Christmas") sang her original song "Christmas in America" on the Dec. 16 broadcast while wearing a Barack Obama campaign symbol on her guitar strap. Lyrics of the song include: