While liberal journalists have a thrill up their leg over Pope Francis telling an interviewer that Catholics have a much broader message than just opposing abortion and unrepentant homosexuality, they're missing other messages that show the Holy Father is still leading a pro-life church.
Francis X. Rocca of The Catholic Herald in the United Kingdom reports the Pope told a gathering of Catholic gynecologists: “In all its phases and at every age, human life is always sacred and always of quality. And not as a matter of faith, but of reason and science.”
Friday's CBS This Morning heralded how supposedly, "Pope Francis is already being described as one of the most progressive popes in modern times" after six months as Bishop of Rome. Charlie D'Agata asserted that the pontiff is "the friendly face of the Vatican, the people's pope", and played up how Francis' apparent "spirit of spontaneity, openness, and inclusion has courted controversy...It includes extending an olive branch to the gay community." [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
On Wednesday, NBC Nightly News also underlined how Pope Francis seemingly "has changed the tone in a church plagued by the sex abuse scandal, emphasizing Church teaching on helping the poor and social justice....it's not just what the new pope says that's a sign of a changing church – it's what he does – getting close to people...enjoying the crowds that flock to him."
On Friday's CBS This Morning, Mark Phillips all but hinted that Pope Francis had "taken sides" with Russia's Vladimir Putin and against President Obama in the international debate over military strikes in Syria. Phillips proposed that the Pope's letter to Putin "must have been music to the Russian president's ears."
The journalist also turned to a "Vatican historian" who once publicly attacked Francis' predecessor, Benedict XVI, as a "dictator", and likened him to Islamists. He also labeled the Pope's upcoming prayer and fasting vigil for peace in Syria a "religious street protest." [audio available here; video below the jump]
In case you missed it, new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has proven his "moderate" credentials to Time magazine [see screen capture below page break]. How so, you might ask? Well, a tweet from (what purports to be) his account yesterday, which reads, "As the sun is about to set here in #Tehran I wish all Jews, especially Iranian Jews, a blessed Rosh Hashanah. pic.twitter.com/tmaf84x7UR"
In this last installment of my back-to-school series, I will address possibly the most controversial aspect of Thomas Jefferson and public education: Did he advocate and expect only a completely secular public education system?
Rather than have it remain only in churches or private schools, Jefferson proposed that religious education be incorporated in the public education system, too — but with a twist.
Liberals usually get upset when politicians suggest someone is on a mission from God when they have a political program to push – at least when it’s a conservative program. During Saturday’s live MSNBC coverage of the March on Washington anniversary (organized by Al Shaprton), Ed Schultz proclaimed that 9-year-old Asean Johnson, speaking out (well, reading a sheet of paper) on behalf of a teacher’s union, was “a gift from God” in fighting against “under-resourced” public schools.
God favors teacher unions? On The Ed Show hours later, Schultz fawned over the youngest speaker at the rally and his mother during an interview alongside his sponsor, Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers. Schultz repeated the “gift from God” reference. Schultz barely mentioned that Johnson’s nemesis was Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel:
Maybe, in sync with the predictable press reactions to oft-seen bad economic numbers, the headline at Julie Pace's late-morning story at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, should have been: "Obama Foreign Policy Falls Apart ... Unexpectedly."
Pace's pathetic attempt at pathos in assessing the status of the Obama administration's foreign policy tells AP readers that some of it is due to "factors outside the White House's control" (as if previous administrations haven't had to deal with unanticipated developments), that Obama "misjudged" what would come in the Arab Spring's aftermath (we're supposed to ignore all of those contacts he's had with Muslim Brotherhood officials and their sympathizers), and that the NSA revelations have hurt our standing in Europe (without noting that the root cause is NSA's spying on U.S. citizens). Excerpts follow the jump.
In March, the Associated Press ran a 470-word "Big Story" item about the case of of Elaine Huguenin, an Albuquerque wedding photographer "who declined to shoot the commitment ceremony of a lesbian couple." The couple filed an anti-discrimination claim with the state's Human Rights Commission, which found that Huguenin, who runs her business with her husband, had violated state law.
New Mexico's highest court upheld the commission's ruling against Ms. Huguenin on Thursday. Though the AP has an 11-paragraph story on the ruling by Barry Massey which several AP-subscribing outlets throughout the country have picked up, searches on Ms. Huguenin's last name which returned no results and no new "Big Story" result indicate that it is not present at the AP's national site. Especially since it was such a big deal five months ago, what explains the, well, light exposure? Excerpts from what AP management is apparently now treating as a local story follow the jump:
No one likes to see his religion trashed, and from everything we have learned about [the PBS documentary] "The Life of Muhammad," Muslims have nothing to worry about. The New York Daily News says the film could be subtitled "Islam 101," boasting that "If it helps with greater understanding, it has done its job." A professor who appears in the series praises it for its "balance."
However, a look back at PBS' treatment of the Catholic Church yields few films that could reasonably be dubbed "Catholicism 101," or that could in any way be praised for promoting "greater understanding." In fact, most of the films were flagrantly imbalanced.
Imagine a generally conservative evangelical figure switching his party affiliation from Republican to Democratic because in his view the 2012 Republican Convention's array of speakers and the party's platform convinced him that he could no longer in good conscience be affiliated with a political party which he believed steadfastly aligned itself with sinful positions on say care for the poor or immigration reform. Network news media would surely fall all over themselves to book that preacher on their morning and Sunday shows and print publications would scramble to get an exclusive interview.
Well, that sort of treatment has not greeted the Most Reverend Thomas Tobin, the bishop who oversees the Catholic diocese of Providence in Rhode Island. At a Young Republicans event last Tuesday, Tobin noted he joined the Democratic Party in 1969, but can no longer remain one, not after the 2012 Democratic convention's war-on-women/abortion-heavy confab. Providence TV station WPRI broke the story on August 13 (emphasis mine):
Two reporters at the Associated Press covering the trial of the alleged (but really confessed) perpetrator of the Ft. Hood massacre still believe there is a "key but difficult question" which needs to be answered: "Why did Maj. Nidal Hasan attack his fellow soldiers in the worst mass shooting ever on a U.S. military base?"
Although the narrative of Nomaan Merchant and Michael Graczyk is couched in the context of what prosecutors will allow themselves to say in the trial itself — after all, the government claims that the murders represent an incident of workplace violence, and therefore not one involving terrorism — the pair's opening, which is what will get most readers' attention, still makes it appear that Hasan's motives remain vague (bolds are mine):
Left-wing radio host and MSNBC weekend denizen Ed Schultz made it abundantly clear yesterday that he is fed up with "phony Christians" in the Republican Party who "hide behind their plastic Jesus."
Schultz also touted himself as a Christian before questioning the born-again faith of GOP Senator Ted Cruz, thereby demonstrating that religious hypocrisy is not the exclusive province of those he was criticizing. (Audio clips after the jump)
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:
Saturday evening, a friend suggested that I watch the midnight rerun of Judge Jeanine Pirro's Fox News program for her interview segment with a Democrat and a Republican about this weekend's closing of 22 embassies overseas in response to terrorist threats.
Ryan Clayton was the Democrat whose arguments blaming George W. Bush's administration for the current level of threats in the Middle East were so weak that he was reduced to childishly reminding viewers that 9/11 happened on George W. Bush's watch (as if we didn't know, and as if eight years of previous Clinton administration weakness were irrelevant). Clayton has an interesting history, which I will note at the end of this post. The Judge Jeanine segment follows the jump.
One of the most inaccurate things that secular reporters do in reporting on homosexuality and religion is in putting the words “devout” and “gay” right next to each other – even when it’s clear that the sympathetic gay characters in their stories are shedding their religious traditions in favor of their gay identity.
The New York Daily News carried a story with the headline “Shahar Hadar, 34, is part of a growing cluster of devout gay Jews in Israel. He is one of a few religious drag queens that perform on Israel's downtown circuit.”
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.”
The media is imagining a whole new Pope that it can hug and squeeze and calls its own. In its narrative, Pope Francis is a liberal modernizer, and everything he does sweeps that caveman Pope Benedict under the rug. See AP's Vatican reporter Nicole Winfield at the end of the pope's trip to Brazil: "The Francis Revolution is underway. Not everyone is pleased."
Catholics see the two popes as very similar in doctrine, if not in personality. But Winfield is going looking for traditionalist Catholics who are wailing and gnashing their teeth in defeat, for Francis is supposedly driving out the "poisonously homophobic culture" that surrounded the "dusty, doctrinaire" realm of Benedict. So much for AP's policy discouraging the use of "homophobia" in news stories!
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]