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:
A recent episode of Nova about the high-profile 2006 Kitzmiller v. Dover intelligent design trial has been cited for numerous false facts and false insinuations. The episode, entitled "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on trial," contains "blatant misrepresentations" and "misinformation," according to the Discovery Institute, the leading think tank of the intelligence design movement.
On Friday's "Countdown" show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, while condescendingly chastising FNC's Bill O'Reilly for erroneously remarking that the "Book of Revelation" was written 5,000 years ago, made a mistake of his own in explaining O'Reilly's error, as the "Countdown" host claimed Jesus Christ "died roughly 2007 years ago." Olbermann: "Now, he [Christ] was supposed to have died roughly 2007 years ago, which is where we get the number on the calendar thing with the years in it. It's A.D., Anno Domini, Year of Our Lord, it's sort of dated back to the death-" [Stops talking and sighs] (Transcript follows)
CNN, during a report on Thursday’s "The Situation Room," mislead its viewers by reporting that a new document issued by the Catholic bishops on voting stated that "the candidate who supports abortion rights shouldn't necessarily be counted out for your vote." Besides this misrepresentation, the report also highlighted the issue of denying pro-abortion politicians Communion. CNN correspondent Mary Snow reported that some "critics" state that "the Communion question was created by extremists, and they hope they're shut out of this election cycle." Speaking of "shutting out," conservative and faithful Catholics were not featured at all in the report. Instead, Snow played two sound bites from prominent liberal Catholics.
A trip to the United States from Pope Benedict is still nearly six months away (April 2008), but the Los Angeles Times is already in a tizzy. An editorial in Wednesday's Times (11/14/07) advises the Pope to shun "hard-liners" and "conservative Catholics" and listen to "other Catholics." The Times is concerned with the issue of whether or not abortion-friendly politicians who claim they are Catholic should receive Holy Communion. As they so often do, the Times avoided the "liberal" tag for these "other Catholics":
An opinion article by author Jason Berry in Sunday's Los Angeles Times (11/11/07) claims that United States Catholic bishops "released data [in 2004] showing that they had identified about 4,400 abusive U.S. priests." The truth? That number refers to the number of priests who had allegations of abuse.
This discrepancy is significant for a number of reasons:
Planned Parenthood is at it again -- lying about its construction plans. Catholic News Agency reports the Catholic bishops of Colorado (Denver, Pueblo, and Colorado Springs) are calling out the abortion industry giant's tactics:
The bishops write, “In early November, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM) broke ground on a new headquarters and clinic in northeast Denver.” They “purchased this property secretly under the guise of Fuller 38 LLC.”
“Planned Parenthood told the Denver Post that PPRM planned to complete the entire project in secrecy to avoid protests and delays that other Planned Parenthood buildings have encountered around the country.”
As the movie studios gear up for a big Christmas movie season, one trailer that looks like a blockbuster is “The Golden Compass,” which must be trying to cash in on the “Narnia” movies. It has flashy special-effect polar bears in armor and a young heroic damsel in distress facing off against evil forces. The casting is top-notch, led by Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, the current star spy in the James Bond movies.
But buyer beware: Narnia it’s not. It’s the anti-Narnia. Instead of a Christian allegory, it’s an anti-Christian allegory. The author of “The Golden Compass,” Philip Pullman, is an atheist who despises C. S. Lewis and his much-beloved Narnia series. “I thought they were loathsome,” he said of those books, “full of bullying and sneering, propaganda, basically, on behalf of a religion whose main creed seemed to be to despise and hate people unlike yourself.”
Over the course of his political career, Bill Clinton was literally and figuratively embraced by countless pastors, most of whom presumably went to their pulpits on Sunday to preach traditional values, including marital fidelity. If memory serves, neither Gail Collins nor other liberal pundits noted any irony in people of the cloth endorsing the spectacularly straying Clinton.
But let a preacher praise a Republican with a personal history, and Gail Collins thunders like Billy Sunday with a bad migraine. Here's the opening paragraph of her "Pat Loves Rudy" in today's New York Times [emphasis added]:
Update (Nov. 8 | 13:00 EST): International and Beijing Olympic officials are denying any such Bible ban exists. Click here for the story.
"Olympic agencies of the free world shouldn't tolerate this kind of intolerance. But will the media notice?" NewsBusters senior editor Tim Graham asked in a Sunday blog post, referring to a November 2 Catholic News Agency article reporting the Communist Chinese government's plan to bar athletes from bringing Bibles along with their other personal effects in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Unfortunately, a full four days after the CNA article, it seems major print and television media have ignored the story. A Nexis search of major newspapers from November 2-6 yielded no stories on the matter. Ditto with a search of ABC, CBS, and NBC news transcripts, as well as a search of MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News.
A notable exception to the general media silence: Fox News Channel's Neil Cavuto. Just after the half-hour mark to his November 6 program the host of "Your World with Neil Cavuto" covered the controversy as he interviewed evangelist Bill Keller, who is urging the United States government to boycott next year's Summer Games should China not repeal the policy.
Cavuto and Keller noted that the Koran, unlike the Bible, was not similarly on the censorship list.
The Washington Post might have surprised its "pro-choice" base on Tuesday morning with a front-page story headlined "Teen Wins Fight for Antiabortion Club at School." (The "anti" theme continued with the headline on A-12: "Antiabortion Club Might Be First in Region at Public School.") Reporter Theresa Vargas noted that Stephanie Hoffmeier started the "Pro-Life Club" (not the Antiabortion Club) at Colonial Forge High School in Stafford, Virginia. School officials there first refused her request to start the club, and Hoffmeier and the Alliance Defense Fund sued in federal court. The high school looked at the legal case and then allowed the club to meet.
"Representatives for NARAL Pro-Choice America, an abortion-rights group, did not respond to requests for comment," Vargas also reported.
Organizers of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing have published a list of “prohibited objects” in the Olympic village where athletes will stay. To the surprise of many, Bibles are among the objects that will not be allowed. According to the Italian daily La Gazzetta dello Sport, organizers have cited “security reasons” and have prohibited athletes from bearing any kind of religious symbol at Olympic facilities.
This sounds contrary to what the communist government was promising just a few weeks ago. See Reuters:
Ann Coulter's been a naughty girl! She has to go sit a time out in the corner, according to Chris Matthews, who's withdrawing the distinct and high honor of inviting the columnist on "Hardball" as punishment for the Donny Deutsch row, which was hyped by the liberal smear machine Media Matters for America.
And I thought that was only reserved for attractive business reporters who didn't lean into the camera.
New York Times reporter Michael Luo posted Sunday morning on "The Caucus" blog on his days at the recent Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the social conservative lobbying group Focus on the Family, where his Times credentials didn't exactly open doors of welcome.
Cadging about for interviews, Luo discovered once again that not everyone loves the Times.
"When I first met Mrs. Crowe, she had been wary after I identified myself as a reporter from The Times. She confessed her suspicions, saying she watched Bill O'Reilly and harbored serious reservations about The Times. I had, in fact, experienced this kind of wariness, sometimes outright hostility, from nearly every person I stopped to interview at the summit. It had gotten to the point that I was even a bit nervous of approaching anyone for fear of rejection.
A major presidential candidate is straddling the fence between two key constituencies: gay voters and black churchgoers who tend to frown on homosexuality. Yet when profiling Barack Obama's gospel concert campaign swing through South Carolina, Washington Post staffer Sridhar Pappu all but left that verse out of his October 29 hymn of praise, "In S.C., Obama Seeks a Spiritual Reawakening."
Gay activists have slammed Obama for inviting ex-gay gospel singer Donnie McClurkin to perform/campaign for the Illinois Democrat. Obama has repudiated McClurkin's personal views on homosexuality and in response to criticism from gay activists invited an openly gay preacher, Andy Sidden, to appear at the same campaign event as McClurkin. Obama stopped short of asking McClurkin to withdraw from his scheduled performance.
Yet nowhere in Pappu's article did Sidden's name surface, and the only mention of consternation within the ranks of liberal interest groups over Obama's affiliation with McClurkin was relegated to an oblique parenthetical reference:
(The gospel series also draws attention because of the inclusion of the Grammy-winning gospel singer Donnie McClurkin, who has publicly said he overcame his homosexual thoughts and desires through prayer.)
Pappu's treatment of the campaign gimmick of marrying Gospel music with an Obama campaign pitch was nowhere near the critical treatment conservative evangelicals get from liberal journalists for ventures such as "Justice Sunday" (emphases mine):
Don Feder doesn't take Ann Coulter seriously "as an evangelist," but "no one can get the left going like Ann." He captures some stunning Coulter-hatred in the media.
The piece de hysteria (believe me, the competition was stiff) was a column by L.A. Times media critic Tim Rutten, who darkly warned that, "The rails leading to Auschwitz were greased by precisely the opinion Coulter expressed on American television this week."
Rutten -- who's saying that evangelizing facilitates genocide -- needs to be kept away from a keyboard, for his own safety.
Congratulations, Bobby Jindal, on winning the governorship of Louisiana. Now if only you stood any chance of your constituents liking you, much less you getting anything done as governor. At least that's the highly pessimistic message readers of the October 21 New York Times received courtesy of reporter Adam Nossiter.
It's safe to say Nossiter, reporting from New Orleans, didn't exactly spend his "Louisiana Saturday Night" by dancing "in the kitchen 'til the morning light" over Jindal's victory (emphases mine):
The ascendancy of the Brown- and Oxford-educated Mr. Jindal, an unabashed policy wonk who has produced a stream of multipoint plans, is likely to be regarded as a racial breakthrough of sorts in this once-segregated state. Still, it is one with qualifiers attached.
On Friday’s "Early Show," co-host Julie Chen and reporter Chip Reid analyzed the Values Voters Conference in Washington this weekend and how conservative Evangelicals "are deeply frustrated because they can't find a Republican candidate they can coalesce around," according to Reid. He went on to exclaim that "There's one Republican candidate, though, who really has some Evangelicals dispirited. Rudy Giuliani, because of his support for abortion rights."
In order to emphasize the dire circumstances of the Republican Party, Reid continued by discussing how a third party candidate backed by the religious right could, "... allow Clinton to cruise to victory..." and that "Many Evangelicals say forming a third party to oppose Giuliani is a prescription for Republican disaster."
"If I'm an unborn child and I want the support of the far religious right I better stay unborn as long as possible because once I'm born I'm off the radar screen. No healthcare, no child care, no nothing, " said Jim Wallis, founder of the liberal Christian group Sojourners.
Only he wasn't labeled a "liberal" by Katie Couric. He was called a "progressive."
Wallis got the royal treatment from Couric in the October 18 broadcast. In a piece about the Values Voters Summit being held in Washington, D.C. this weekend, Couric reported a segment on whether evangelical Christians can be counted on by the G.O.P.
She went hard left after the opening statement, in which she said there was "a new kind of holy war" for the hearts and minds of 50 million evangelical voters.
Smiling, she asked Wallis,“Do you believe that evangelical Christians are still the domain of the G.O.P?”
He answered with an emphatic, “No,” adding their votes are "up for grabs."
In an interview with televangelist Joel Osteen and his wife on Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Hannah Storm began the segment by asking Osteen: "Last week, conservative right-wing pundit Ann Coulter made waves, she said, quote, "Christians consider themselves perfected Jews,"saying that it would be "a lot easier for Jews if they would become Christians." What did you make of her remarks?" In contrast, ABC’s "Good Morning America" managed to interview Osteen without such politically charged language on Monday.
Storm then followed up with the bizarre theological observation: "And there should, should there be sort of an Old Testament, New Testament debate going on at this point in our country? Is that productive?" Coulter comments aside, last time I checked Christians believed in both parts of the Bible Hannah.
Continuing the theme of political correctness, Storm was impressed with the diversity of Osteen’s flock:
One of the most stunning things about your church, you know, when someone attends one of your services, you do see all races there. You see black, you see white, you see Hispanic, you see gay couples, you see family people, you see janitors and CEOs. What is it about your message that crosses all of those boundaries, that's so universally accepted?
She even went on to ask Osteen about critics who say: "You're Christianity-lite, you should be talking about suffering and sin and all the real, you know, things that happen to people." Apparently Storm sees "real" Christianity as being nothing but doom and gloom. Sorry Hannah, most Christians do not operate like the mainstream media.