The Leadership Conference of Women Religious begins its annual assembly today in Orlando. The group of Catholic nuns from various orders is certain to be considering a response to the Vatican’s finding that LCWR’s liberal activism strays from Church doctrine on a variety of issues.
But the sisters probably aren’t too worried. They have something the Vactican doesn’t – a friendly news media.
The Washington Post reporter today that Mayor Vince Gray (D-Washington, D.C.) confirmed it was he who pressured gospel singer Donnie McClurkin to back out of Saturday's city-sponsored concert honoring the late Martin Luther King, Jr. McClurkin was the target of local gay activists because of comments he made in 2002 in which he testified about how he used to practice homosexuality but repented of that lifestyle because of his faith in Jesus Christ.
Although a group of local African-American pastors are furious about Gray's "insidious bullying tactics" and "outright infringement of Pastor McClurkin's civil rights," the Washington Post downplayed that angle in today's page B3 story, burying their outrage in the final third of the 9-paragraph article, "Gray made call to cut gospel singer from show." "Gay activists objected to scheduled headliner at King memorial," noted the subheader, giving the casual reader scanning the page no indication that McClurkin's treatment by the mayor has sparked outrage.
On Friday, I noted how ostensibly objective religion reporter David Gibson of Religion News Service has been tapped by Sister Simone Campbell to co-author her memoirs. Proceeds from the project will go into the coffers of NETWORK, Campbell's left-leaning "social justice" organization. Campbell, you may recall, addressed the Democratic National Convention last year and was a mini-celebrity on the Left for her attacks on Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan and his signature Ryan budget plan.
A review of Gibson's writing about Campbell's anti-Ryan budget "nuns on the bus" tour last year and this year's bus tour focused on immigration reform shows that Gibson's treatment of Campbell's politicking reads more like hagiography than objective journalism. Let's walk through a few samples. Here's Gibson from a September 6 item dutifully passing along highlights of Campbell's speech to the 2012 Democratic National Convention (emphasis mine):
Friday’s Washington Post carried a large article with color photographs of Jesus-bashing author Reza Aslan called “The Book of Reza.” Post reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia mocked “the astonishingly absurd questions lobbed at him” by Fox News religion correspondent Lauren Green, asking why a Muslim would write about Jesus.
Aslan told the Post he held Fox in low esteem (like almost every leftist). “I know what Fox News is about,” he says. “This is a network that has spun fear-mongering about Muslims into ratings gold for 10 years.” But this didn't end up being a puff piece. Roig-Franzia found that the “absurd” Fox network accomplished something notable. Aslan implausibly inflated his academic resume, and then arrogantly dismissed he’d done anything unethical. Aslan is exposed:
Imagine the hand-wringing that would ensue among secular journalists were Franklin Graham or Bishop Harry Jackson to write a memoir with a mainstream media religion reporter on board as a credited co-author. Surely much ado would be made about an ostensibly objective journalist assisting a politically engaged, conservative clergyman to write a book the proceeds of which would go into his ministry's coffers. After all, how can you objectively cover such individuals after having helped them raise their public profile and financially benefited their pet cause(s)?
Now contrast that with the silence that's sure to greet Religion News Service reporter David Gibson's services as scribe to Sister Simone Campbell, the left-wing nun who was a convenient unofficial ally and surrogate for liberal Democrats last year as she savaged Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan. As a national reporter, Gibson has covered Campbell as part of his beat as a national reporter for RNS.
The Guardian is unapologetically left-of-center editorially, but being a British publication, its geographical and cultural separation from the journalistic elite on this side of the pond helps inoculate it from venerating the sacred cows and cozying up to the favored pundits of the liberal media here in the States.
A prime example of that is Stuart Kelly's review of UC Riverside professor and Huffington Post blogger Reza Aslan's new book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. Where American reviewers have praised Aslan's writing style if not his chops as a religious historian, Kelly took on both (h/t Michael Gryboski; emphasis mine):
In Sunday's edition, the Washington Post perhaps unintentionally did conservative critics of Reza Aslan a favor by printing liberal religion scholar Stephen Prothero's review of the UC Riverside creative writing professor's new book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.
"Aslan is more a storyteller here than a historian" who doesn't bring "much new here other than [his] slick writing and cinematic sensibilities." "In the end, 'Zealot' offers readers not the historical Jesus but a Jesus for our place and time — an American Jesus for the 21st century, and more specifically for a post-Sept. 11 society struggling to make sense of Christianity’s ongoing rivalry with Islam," Prothero argued, adding in closing that in Aslan's eyes:
They may find it scandalous for someone to say so, but our secular liberal media are playing favorites with religion. They have a spoiled child, Islam. Journalists see Islam as a bullied, minority faith for brown people. Draw a cartoon of Mohammed with dynamite on his head, and you are the worst kind of trouble-making hater.
But write a book declaring that Jesus isn’t God? That’s not picking a fight or making trouble. That actually delights media elitists. They see America as too identified with Christian-nation “intolerance,” a bond that needs to be broken. Look no further than Lauren Green’s Foxnews.com interview with Muslim author Reza Aslan, who wrote a book titled “Zealot,” which wildly claims that Jesus wasn’t God, and (scriptural evidence be damned ) Jesus never said or thought that he was.
The Huffington Post wants to make Catholic colleges more gay. So, HuffPo Live hosted a segment called “Rainbows for Catholic Colleges” on Thursday, and discussed how to undermine Catholic teaching and push the gay agenda on Catholic campuses. (Because Heaven forbid there be any institution left standing that hasn’t capitulated to postmodern morality.)
The panel included no traditional priests, not a single traditional Catholic student, and not even a straight Catholic layman. Nope. Just three gay guys. There’s diversity for you.
The call of the minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was never meant to be a popular gig with the world. “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you," Jesus taught his disciples (John 15:18-19, ESV).
So when I saw that the Washington National Cathedral's dean the Rev. Gary Hall was the subject of a puffy 29-paragraph profile by the Washington Post's Sally Quinn -- "A clergyman intent on engaging the masses"* -- it was safe to assume that Hall's views by heavily accommodating to the wider culture while throwing historic Christian teaching under the bus. Hall failed to disappoint, nor did Quinn, who naturally presented Hall as an engaging, thoughtful, and cool cleric who was a religious leader in tune with liberal urban Washingtonians.
You knew the warm fuzzies for Pope Francis couldn't last that long. While the media initially went gaga over Pope Francis, hoping beyond hope he was some liberal reformer who would open up the Catholic Church to all kinds of heterodoxy, the reality is slowly setting in. The first-ever Latin American pontiff is warm, genial, charismatic, and an excellent communicator with both the public and the press, but he's solidly conservative in doctrine, particularly the issue of biggest concern for the liberal media: sexual ethics.
The other day, it was TIME's Tim Padgett, blasting the pope over the Church's teaching on homosexuality. Today it's Vanity Fair contributing editor Janine di Giovanni, who penned an attack on Francis in a "world news" feature at the Daily Beast that was not tagged as commentary and headlined, "What About Women, Pope Francis?" Out of the gate, di Giovanni went after the bishop of Rome (emphasis mine):
During a panel discussion on Thursday's NBC Today about comments from Pope Francis on homosexuality, co-host Matt Lauer asked the group of usual liberal pundits if the Pontiff's remarks were a "watershed moment for gays in the Church" or "just a very minor shift." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Advertising executive Donny Deutsch cheered: "I think it was a watershed moment. I think we're seeing a moment in time from the Catholic Church, all across what's happening in this country with laws being passed, that the gay lifestyle is finally becoming like, 'Yeah, so what?'"
Never one to miss the chance to smear Christianity and push gay marriage, the Huffington Post is hyping a new edition of an old book proposing that the ancient Christian church held gay marriages.
A sensationalist HuffPo sidebar lead with the teaser: “Ancient Christians held gay marriages?” On the HuffPo’s Gay Voices page, the banner was emblazoned with the provocative suggestion: “ANCIENT I DO’S?” The sub headline made it sound as if the story were breaking news: “Historian’s claims spark controversy.”
Author Reza Aslan was disingenuous about his biases in his weekend interview with Fox News Channel's Lauren Green, NewsBusters publisher and Media Research Center founder Brent Bozell told FNC's Shannon Bream on the July 31 edition of America Live. Aslan, as a Muslim, denies the divinity of Christ, and should have been straightforward about how his religious beliefs would necessarily color his view of Jesus, which he protests is purely a scholarly inquiry.
Besides proudly insisting he has no biases, Aslan got a number of basic things about Christ wrong, Bozell said, including the absurd claim that Jesus is never quoted in any biblical account as claiming divinity. Additionally, the MRC president noted, Aslan "also said, more than once, that he had a history degree in religion" when "in fact, he doesn't." [to watch the full segment, view the embedded video below the page break]
Pope Francis is learning the hard way about the media’s predilection for hearing – and reporting – only what they want. First, they twisted his unremarkable restatement of Catholic doctrine on homosexuality into headlines like “POPE OK WITH GAYS.”
Now, journalists are angry about Francis’ unremarkable restatement of Catholic doctrine refuting liberal calls for women priests, and ignoring what Francis had to say about the real importance of women to the faith and in the life of the Church.
Monday's CBS Evening News offered the usual biased coverage of religion, and specifically, the Catholic Church, as it reported on Pope Francis' widely misrepresented remarks on homosexuals. Dean Reynolds' only talking head was a former priest who apparently "quit the priesthood...after he felt the Church intended to purge gays", and even wondered if the Pope was throwing out Catholic teaching: "Do you think he's breaking with the Vatican?"
Reynolds also hyped that the Roman pontiff offered a "potentially controversial position" with his recent remarks, when in reality, they are consistent with what the Catechism of the Catholic Church outlines. [audio available here; video below the jump]
Author Reza Aslan falsely claimed that the Gospel of Mark contains no messianic claim by Jesus, but CNN's Piers Morgan asked him no tough questions and instead promoted his new book on Jesus in a slobbering interview on Monday.
Morgan mocked Fox News's interview of Aslan: "Reza, I mean, what were you thinking as that interviewer was asking those ridiculous questions?" Three times Morgan touted that Aslan's book was number one on Amazon.com. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
On Monday's All In show, as MSNBC's Chris Hayes rejoiced somewhat over Pope Francis's recent comments about people who have homosexual "tendencies" becoming priests, the MSNBC host also declared that it was a "heinous teaching" for the Pope to say that it is a "sin" to "violate God's law," referring to acting out on homosexual feelings. Hayes complained:
Surprise, surprise: the media still can’t seem to get their act together on the Pope’s words. Continuing the sloppy reporting on the Pope’s recent press conference, USA Today’s print version flubbed the Pope’s remarks on women’s ordination.
While hyperventilating over the Pope’s words on gays, the paper mistakenly claimed that the Pope’s remark “closes door on women’s ordination” – implying that the so-called door previously had been open.
At the top of Monday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams seized on Pope Francis expressing compassion toward gay people of faith and framed the comments as a major shift for the Catholic Church: "Making history. We're on the Pope's plane as he makes some stunning comments that sure sounded revolutionary..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Later introducing a report on the topic, Williams proclaimed: "To the journalists sitting in the back of his plane flying him back to the Vatican from Rio, the Pope's words today during a surprise airborne news conference seemed, if not revolutionary, certainly newsworthy and historic in terms of the Catholic Church."
While most liberal media outlets have been positively giddy about Pope Francis's off-the-cuff remarks to the media about gay Catholics, Tim Padgett is having none of it, complaining, accurately, that the media have misconstrued the pontiff's comments. But Padgett's beef is not with inaccurate secular media outlets but with the church itself. "Catholic doctrine still vilifies homosexuality, and no amount of priestly 'love' makes that okay," huffed the sanctimonious headline to Padgett's July 30 story, "Pope Francis and Gays: 'Loving the Sinner' Is Still Intolerance."
"As TIME’s Stephen Faris has noted, while the Pope’s remarks might be a welcome and humane sentiment, they hardly represent a break with Catholic church doctrine, which still condemns homosexuality. The Vatican’s catechismal stance regarding the LGBTs in our midst remains the same: The church may love the sinner, but it hates the sin," complained Padgett in a post on the Time Ideas blog. Visitors to the main Time.com page were greeted this morning with a huge teaser headline which prompted readers to check out the piece, tagged as a "viewpoint" entry, not an objective news story [see screen capture below]:
Out of all the things Pope Francis said at World Youth Day, the liberal media were buzzing about his refusal to judge a gay person who "accepts the Lord and has good will" – ignoring that Pope Francis still upheld the Catholic Catechism's teaching on homosexuality.
New Day co-hosts Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan sounded hopeful that the Pope's remark would lead to change down the road. "One thing is for sure, change only comes about through dialogue. So, the fact that the pope is addressing this at all means something," Cuomo said. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Liberals in the media are doing what they do best when it comes to Pope Francis today: misrepresenting him to their hearts’ content.
When asked in a press conference about celibate priests who suffer same-sex attraction, the Pope replied: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?” – a view which is exactly in line with Church teaching. But of course, the media had a field day painting this orthodox statement as a sweeping approval of the gay lifestyle.
Bill Maher has said some disgusting things about religion before.
Possibly the most disgusting came on HBO’s Real Time Friday when the host actually said, “God in the Old Testament is a psychotic mass murderer” (video follows with transcript and commentary, file photo):
Everyone’s happy about the arrival of the future king of Britain – that is, everyone at leisure to take note. Presumably, Middle Eastern Christians have been too busy trying to survive to worry over whether the Duchess of Cambridge was in false labor.
And while the hard-nosed journalists at ABC, CBS and NBC have been knitting booties and speculating on names, Middle Eastern Christians have been attacked by Islamists, prevented from worshipping, driven from homes and villages, beaten and executed.
Disturbing protests from abortion proponents and media glamour treatment for pro-abort Wendy Davis punctuated the debate over the Texas abortion bill. So when a young girl held up an explicit and obscene pro-abortion sign at the Texas Capitol, of course liberals hailed her as a precocious hero for women’s rights.
Tuesday Cain, a 14-year-old Texan, protested the abortion bill in Texas by holding a sign that read: “Jesus isn’t a d***, so keep him out of my vagina.” But instead of pointing out the lack of common decency and moral respect in the offensive placard, leftie site Salon.com lauded Tuesday as “awesome” for her “willingness to stand up for her convictions.”
While thousands of young people gather in Rio de Janeiro this week to celebrate World Youth Day with Pope Francis for the very first time, gay rights activists can’t wait to welcome the pontiff to Brazil – with an offensive gay “kiss-in.”
According to Huffington Post, a gay rights group plans to stage a gay “kiss-in” during the Pope’s World Youth Day appearance. The obscene protest is scheduled for July 25, during the speech Pope Francis will give on Copacabana beach. Gay couples will meet there and kiss each other on the lips to demonstrate their opposition to the Church’s stance on homosexuality and gay marriage.
It seems as though some media personalities never miss an opportunity to slam the Catholic Church. Take for example the July 18 Imus In The Morning on Fox Business, in which host Don Imus took an unnecessary swipe at Pope Francis and the sex abuse scandal surrounding the Catholic Church.
Speaking with Father Jonathan Morris, a regular Fox News contributor, Imus suggested that, “because of all the problems the church has had, he [should] get an ice cream truck," presumably making that crack because ice cream trucks are quite the draw for children. [See video after jump. MP3 audio here.]
On Weekend Edition Sunday, NPR's Rachel Martin helped Daily Beast editor Reza Aslan promote his new biography of Jesus, who posited that there is a "chasm between the historical Jesus and the Jesus...taught about in church." As proof of this supposed gap, Aslan claimed that "there is actually no statement of messianic identity from Jesus" in the Gospel of Mark.
Aslan has it wrong. Jesus actually affirmed that he was the Christ (the Greek word for Messiah) in Mark 14: 61-62: "Again the high priest asked him...Art thou the Christ the Son of the blessed God? And Jesus said to him: I am. And you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming with the clouds of heaven." Even NPR pointed out Aslan's false statement in a correction on Monday, but Martin, a former religion correspondent for the public radio network, didn't catch his error during the segment.