Here is the sort of ridiculousness that makes people distrust the media. The Minneapolis Star Tribune published a story that breathlessly proclaims that "More people say there should be less of a Christian emphasis placed on the holidays" making it appear that a Christian Christmas is falling into disfavor with the American people. Wow, how dire for Christianity! Yet when you look closer at the story, it turns out that only 27% of those responding to a poll are saying such a thing. It happens that 64% say there should be more focus on the birth of Jesus during Christmas. So, with such an overwhelming percentage in favor of the religious content of Christmas why is the headline focused on the anti-Christian sentiment? As a result of that negative focus, should someone simply read the headline, a false impression that contradicts the facts is quickly fostered.
On this holy Sunday, just before the celebration of the birth of the Christian Savior, The Seattle Times decided it needed something Christmas related for its Entertainment & Arts section. Not just something that reflects the values of 92% of the country, like a church service, a Christmas play, or a church choir. No, this has to be something that represents The Seattle Times values. Seattle Times arts writer Michael Upchurch certainly found it.
The Seattle Times decided the front page should include the "tawdry glamour" and "warped yuletide spirit" of "drag legend Dina Martina - a big boned chanteuse of stage and dive". So bundle up the kids in their Sunday best and brave the cold night so that your family may celebrate the birth of the Lord at "The All-New Dina Martina Christmas Show".
The gay "rights" movement's war on orthodox religion and against religious people's freedom of speech is continuing in our neighbor to the north, as LifeSite reports. A Catholic magazine in Toronto is under the gun:
Closely following an uproar in the media against government-sponsored censorship via HRC against Maclean's magazine and columnist Mark Steyn and an Alberta HRC judgment ordering Alberta news media to not publish any comments on homosexuality by a Christian pastor, Toronto's Catholic Insight magazine has reported they stand accused in an HRC complaint of "targeting homosexuals".
Ed Rollins is Mike Huckabee's National Campaign Chairman. Appearing on this evening's Hardball, the renowned political consultant declined to say that Romney's religion wasn't relevant to the campaign. For good measure, Rollins suggested that a senior Romney aide is . . . an atheist.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Does faith bring you guys together or separate you?
ED ROLLINS: Well, first of all, you and I are Catholics and Ron [Kaufman, senior Romney aide], are you still an atheist or have you basically converted, now that you're rich?
"The View"co-hosts discussed the Mike Huckabee Christmas ad when Joy Behar moved to quote Ron Paul, ideologically libertarian, whom Behar calls "a very staunch Republican," who quoted Sinclair Lewis: "When Fascism comes to the country, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross."When they played the advertisement, Behar moaned "we don’t have to listen to him do we?"
Whoopi Goldberg, who previously defended Georgia Governor Perdue for holding a prayer service, defended Huckabee’s ad claiming "if he wasn’t a Christian, I don’t think people would be as freaked out by it." Whoopi also defended those who wish to proclaim Merry Christmas.
KEYS: Do you think it matters? Well, well, do you think it matters?
Rock musician Todd Rundgren hasn't been prominent as a performer since the 1970s, but his Sunday concert at the Birchmere here in MRC's hometown of Alexandria drew a mixed review in the Washington Post. Tuesday's review by Stephen Brookes ended with this strange paragraph about Rundgren's failure to offend people:
And for a guy pushing 60, Rundgren still works hard, digging into the vocals and closing most songs with a leaping scissors kick. But his promises to "offend each and every person in the room" didn't quite deliver, starting with a tame "Fascist Christ" and ending with a listless jab against -- yawn -- neoconservatives. Sorry; if you want to talk politics in this town, you have to hit a lot harder than that.
Since when is a song viciously attacking American Christians as fascists considered "tame" and inoffensive? The only arguments in the Post's favor: The song is old (from 1993, hardly the zenith of Christian conservatism), and it's a very lame white rap song.
"But Mika Brzezinski agrees with me!" might not be Mike Huckabee's best pitch to Republican primary voters in defending his harsh criticism of the Bush administration on foreign policy. But the fact is that Mika has done her best to throw Mike a lifeline on the matter.
In a "Foreign Policy" magazine article, an excerpt of which appears below, Huckabee had famously written of "the Bush administration's arrogant bunker mentality."
Interviewing Huckabee on today's Morning Joe, Mika teed up some recent news as supporting evidence for the "arrogant bunker mentality" allegation -- and the candidate was only too happy to take a swing.
Discussing the controversy surrounding his latest campaign ad and the broader issue of his invocation of religion in his political campaign, the normally good-natured Mike Huckabee turned . . . cross on this morning's Today. And while contending he wanted to promote a kinder tone at this time of year, the candidate came prepared to take some pointed shots at Mitt Romney.
Sally Quinn, spouse of former Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee and co-founder of the Post website's On Faith page, greeted the approaching holy day of Christmas by touting liberal and leftist books on religion and atheism in the Book World section: "These books offer a generosity of spirit, communion and wisdom. In a sense they are like the basic tenets of most religions -- they embody the Golden Rule. And they give us something to contemplate as we approach an often difficult, yet joyful and transcendent time of year." The most provocative political lesson in these four mini-reviews was from gay black Harvard Baptist minister Peter Gomes, author of The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus. Quinn explained:
He contends that Jesus is a revolutionary, a radical, and a socialist -- that Jesus "would not have been unsympathetic to the famous social slogan of the nineteenth century, 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.'"
Fervent liberalism is not the only thing that's predictable at the Los Angeles Times. You can bet that when the Times publishes a news article on the Church abuse scandal, rabid letters to the editor that bash the Church will follow a few days later.
Such was the case in yesterday's paper (Sat. 12/15/07). Yet the Times also failed to identify that both letter writers critical of the Church have established records of public involvement and activism in the abuse scandal narrative.
One letter was from a man named Udo Strutynski, who in his letter blasted "the conduct of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles." However, the Times completely failed to note that Strutynski is a lawyer who, according to the Times' own reporting in 2006, has filed cases against the Los Angeles Archdiocese and the Jesuit order (source).
On Saturday's Religion page in The Washington Post, they highlighted the typical secular liberal reporter in his natural habitat -- tremendously skeptical of letting religious people play a role in public policy. In a box highlighting the "On Faith" Internet feature of The Washington Post and Newsweek, the magazine's Christopher Dickey was visibly disturbed in answering the question "Do you think the world's biggest problems -- poverty, disease, homelessness -- can be cured by well-intentioned religious believers?" The Post featured this grab:
“Well-intentioned religious believers”? That phrase, I confess, makes me deeply uneasy. In practice the selflessness of such people can be awe inspiring. In horrible conditions, their powerful faith gives them the strength to endure, to comfort, to heal. But at a policy level when they see practical problems through the narrow prism of dogma the results can be shocking.
In his signed editorial today, "Campaigns Like These Make It Hard to Find a Reason to Believe," New York Times reporter turned editorial board member Eduardo Porter came out as a proud atheist and concluded with a bizarre comparison between Saudi Arabia's harsh rules against adultery and the GOP presidential fields' feelings toward gays.
"As I watched Mitt Romney tie himself into a constitutional knot as he argued that religion should provide a guide for public policy but not be used to choose a president, it made me suspect that all the candidates in the race -- Republican and Democratic -- must believe that I lack some essential virtue.
At the summit of national power, politicians and bureaucrats are terrified at the idea of endorsing the religious views of the majority of Americans. Our First Amendment forbids the establishment of a state religion, but many of our governing elites are taking it a step further, outlawing its very existence from the public conversation.
Congress can turn this into an unintentional comedy of manners. On December 11, the House considered a rather meaningless resolution "recognizing the importance of Christmas" – and nine members of the House voted "nay." The roll call of Grinches are, surprise, largely from blue states: Gary Ackerman and Yvette Clarke of New York were on the list, as were California’s Barbara Lee, Pete Stark, and Lynn Woolsey. The Politico newspaper applauded with "God bless them!"
ABC’s Chris Cuomo, who previously tried to push John McCain to give a preference between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, asked Mike Huckabee, after citing Hillary Clinton, "can a woman be president?" Cuomo inquired this after mentioning that Huckabee signed an ad stating "a wife is to submit graciously to...her husband."
Huckabee appeared on the December 13 edition of "Good Morning America" to address his recent questioning of Mormon doctrine that "Jesus and the devil are brothers." Cuomo also asked Huckabee why he is "unwilling to say" that Mormons are Christians. Huckabee responded "it's not my place to start evaluating his faith, your faith, somebody else's."
It is also notable that GMA co-host Diane Sawyer previously attacked Huckabee for playing the "religion card."
The "First Bible in English may have sparked fundamentalism," suggested the teaser headline on Yahoo.com's front page, as of 2:45 this afternoon. Clicking the link took me to a special feature for LiveScience.com by writer Heather Whipps. Here's her lede:
The translation of the Bible into English marked the birth of religious fundamentalism in medieval times, as well as the persecution that often comes with radical adherence in any era, according to a new book.
Harvard professor James Simpson, the book's author, drew a parallel between early Reformation English Protestants and modern day Islamo-fascists:
Without the clergy guiding them, and with religion still a very important factor in the average person's life, their fate rested in their own hands, Simpson said.
According to veteran ABC journalist Sam Donaldson, evangelical voters are longing for a "Christian theocracy" to rule the United States. Donaldson, appearing on the December 9 edition of "This Week," made the comment while discussing GOP candidate Mitt Romney's speech about religious faith. He also labeled the address "very, very frightening."
Responding to host George Stephanopoulos's assertion that the speech was an inversion of John Kennedy's famous 1960 address, Donaldson asserted, "That's right and that's far we've come. [Romney] talks about the public square. Now, he would say, 'I'm don't mean a Christian theocracy in the White House.' But it's getting much, much closer." Returning to the subject several minutes later, the former ABC anchor, in a slightly horrified tone, remarked, "...Talk about a Christian theocracy in this country, many evangelical Christians believe... that's what we should have, that government should favor people who have the right and understand what God wants us to do."
"The Golden Compass" did not produce box-office gold during its first weekend.
While ranked #1 for the weekend, the movie which opened in 3,528 theaters, was lavishly produced and promoted, only took in in $26.1 million, according to Boxofficemojo.com. Studio New Line Cinema was hoping for returns in the $30 to $40 million range.
"Compass" drew the ire of many Christians because the movie is based on the first book in a trilogy called "His Dark Materials" by avowed atheist Philip Pullman, who has said publicly that his books are about killing God. In "USA Today," Rolf Mittweg of New Line Cinema conceded that the "religion controversy might have had an effect."
The Christmas season is upon us, which means it’s that special time of year for the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State to make sure no wayward city council will allow a whiff of frankincense on government property. They must send out direct-mail fundraising letters asking "Help Us Crush a Creche at Christmas!"
The Christmas season is also that time of year when the business world implores us to consider the material as more important than the spiritual, all in the spirit of “the holidays.” So we celebrate instead the arrival, on Christmas Day, of iPods and DVDs.
This year there’s a new twist. The Nativity scene has become commercialized – but in a way you would never imagine.
Does Mitt Romney believe atheists should enjoy freedom? "Good Morning America" co-host Diane Sawyer apparently isn't too sure. On Friday's edition of the ABC program, the co-host discussed the 2008 presidential candidate's speech on his Mormon faith and wondered about Romney's comment that "freedom requires religion." "Is there going to be a question whether humanists or even atheists, agnostics deserve freedom," she asked "This Week" host, and former Clinton operative, George Stephanopoulos. (This is the same Diane Sawyer who has repeatedly objected to '08 contender Mike Huckabee using the phrase "Christian leader" in a campaign spot. She derided that as "heavy handed" and possibly crossing a line.)
In response to the loaded question, Stephanopoulos simply replied, "I think that's a fight that Romney is willing to pick." In a segment setting up the interview, reporter Dan reiterated the same themes and fretted, "What about non-believers?" He then negatively spun the speech: "Did Romney go too far in blurring the line between church and state?"
Following the recent GOP debate in which CNN chose to air a YouTube question putting candidates on the spot as to their belief in the literal truth of the Bible, there was much breast-beating as to the inappropriateness of religious tests for office.
But that didn't stop Tucker Carlson's two liberal guests this evening from taking potshots on religious grounds at President Bush and Mitt Romney.
Hi everybody! Thanks so much for all your well wishes and supportive comments. I sure will miss being with you every morning. I have thought often over the last week about how God's plan is different from my own... and how important it is to embrace that.
At that point Storm then quoted from Cardinal John Henry Newman:
After discussing the British woman in Sudan charged for naming a class teddy bear Muhammad on Friday’s "View," with no outrage directed towards the Sudanese government, the ladies again discussed the topic. Barbara Walters inquired to the panel what would happen if someone named a teddy bear Jesus in the United States.
Unlike Rosie O’Donnell, who exclaimed "radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam," Joy Behar, to her credit, said "Christians in this country would not be as uptight about it." Later she added "in the Sudan is that it’s, it’s state sanctioned there. Here it would just be an uproar from certain people." [Video embedded below the fold, courtesy of user pundital on YouTube]
On Sunday’s CBS "60 Minutes," anchor Scott Pelley, who referred to Iranian President Ahmadinejad as "friendly," "modest," and "incorruptible," compared American forces in Iraq to barbarian hordes of the past while examining the plight of Iraqi Christians since the war began in 2003: "The Iraqi Christian community, which had survived invasions by Mongols and Turks, was driven out under American occupation."
During the segment, Pelley interviewed an Anglican Reverend in Baghdad named Andrew White:
PELLEY: He was first sent to Baghdad by the Archbishop of Canterbury nine years ago, well before the Christian persecution. You were here during Saddam's reign, and now after. Which was better? Which was worse?
WHITE: Well, it's difficult to describe. The situation now is clearly worse now, but --
PELLEY: Worse than Saddam?
WHITE: Oh, far. There's no comparison between Iraq now and then. Things are the most difficult they have ever been for Christians. Probably ever in history. They've never known it like now.
PELLEY: Wait a minute. Christians have been here for 2,000 years.
WHITE: Yes. And it's now the worst it has ever been.
Furthering the media’s love affair with Hillary Clinton, Friday’s CBS "Early Show" featured a segment on her recent speech at Saddleback Church in Southern California and how Evangelical Christians may be moving to the left in 2008. As co-host Harry Smith wondered at the top of the show, "Hillary Clinton addresses an Evangelical megachurch in California. Is it really possible that the Christian Right could be convinced to turn left?" Later, co-host Julie Chen further teased:
Also, the Evangelical vote in the 2008 presidential race --is it up for grabs? Hillary Clinton believes the Republicans no longer have a lock on it...We'll ask Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback if it's really possible that the Evangelical Right, President Bush's key voting block, could be moving to the left.
The segment began with a report by CBS Correspondent Bill Whitaker, who described the uphill battle for Democrats to win such votes:
To detractors and supporters alike, Democrat Hillary Clinton walking into an Orange County Evangelical bastion was like Daniel entering the lion's den...Four years ago, a Democratic presidential candidate coming to speak at an Evangelical megachurch would have been unthinkable, even politically futile.
Newsweek’s Devin Gordon is certainly not objective when it comes to Philip Pullman, the atheist children’s author behind the new movie The Golden Compass. He really appreciates it when the atheist denounces conservative Catholic leader William Donohue as a "nitwit."
In person, Pullman is tall and inviting, with ruddy features and thatchy gray hair, and when he gets going about the attacks on the film, it's a reminder of how enjoyable it is to observe a polite English gentleman properly outraged. Pullman does, in fact, describe himself as an atheist, but his vocation is storytelling, and his only agenda, he said during an interview with NEWSWEEK, is "to get you to turn the page." "To regard it as this Donohue man has said—that I'm a militant atheist, and my intention is to convert people – how the hell does he know that? Why don't we trust readers? Why don't we trust filmgoers?" Pullman sighed. "Oh, it causes me to shake my head with sorrow that such nitwits could be loose in the world."
Will Time magazine come and cover MY Sunday school class? You know, the one where I teach my kids that their Christian faith is under attack on a weekly, if not daily, basis from the mainstream media?
I think its a valid question because Time just did a lovely send-up to a Sunday School for ..... atheists. Yep. Seems the atheists, or rather humanists, in Palo Alto, California think believers have something going on with the whole Sunday School thing.
Time's reporter Jeninne Lee-St. John promotes the atheist program, atheist summer camps and a new Carl Sagan-named Humanist public charter school in her Nov. 21 story. The fact that the piece was put up on Time.com on the eve before Thanksgiving, when millions of Americans gathered to give thanks to God, is delectable irony.
The New York Times reports that the man behind the claim that crosses and crucifixes are made under "horrific sweatshop conditions" in China admits that his information is "sketchy" and "anecdotal." Charles Kernaghan is the head of the National Labor Committee (NLC), a well-known organization that has challenged the working conditions under which companies like GAP have manufactured their clothes. Kernaghan now claims that crosses and crucifixes being sold at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City and other outlets are made under similar unacceptable conditions.
It's one month before Christmas. Stories of "crosses and crucifixes made in sweatshops in China" are airing across America. Are Catholic and Christian retailers getting a bad rap? There's evidence that this might be the case.
1. A New York Times report stated, "Mr. Kernaghan acknowledged that information on the factories was sketchy ... 'This stuff is all anecdotal,' he said. 'It comes to us from the workers.'"
We have reported several times on the negligent reporting by the Los Angeles Times on the Catholic Church abuse scandal. (See here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.) Last week, we reported on a glaring error about the scandal in an opinion article by Jason Berry.
In yesterday's Times (Sat. 11/17/07), a reader thoughtfully weighed in on this narrative in a way that the paper never has. From the Letters section: