Liberals often insist on the separation of church and state, but they’d really like to go further to separating the church from everything. That principle oozes into PBS, where a forthcoming Nova documentary insists the Bible is full of fables, not history. Orlando Sentinel TV critic Hal Boedeker reported from a PBS publicity session for TV critics:
Abraham didn't exist? The Exodus didn't happen?
The Bible's Buried Secrets, a new PBS documentary, is likely to cause a furor.
"It challenges the Bible's stories if you want to read them literally, and that will disturb many people," says archaeologist William Dever, who specializes in Israel's history. "But it explains how and why these stories ever came to be told in the first place, and how and why they were written down."
Bloomberg News is acting as if they know how "many Muslims around the world" feel about Barack Obama. In Bloomberg's considered opinion, Obama is "just an American with a Muslim middle name" and won't "advance" the "interests" of Muslims. The main point that Bloomberg seems to be trying to sell is that Barack Obama's Muslim past will not make him tend to bow to world-wide Muslim sentiment. Bloomberg is obviously doing their best to prop up the Obama campaign by trying to allay fears that Obama will be a disaster on foreign policy. This is a perfect example of agenda journalism disguised as news.
So, how do the folks at Bloomberg know what the world's Muslims think about Barack Obama? Is it polls? Did they conduct extensive interviews or research on how Muslims feel about Obama? No, it seems more like Bloomberg's opinion is loosely based on the opinions of the three Muslims they quote and a broad interpretation of one poll on Obama and one on Muslim opinion of the US in general. It seems a rather wild leap in logic from the "evidence" they present to assume that they have a firm grasp on the opinion about Obama of all the world's Muslims.
On Friday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann used a sloppily worded statement by an 83-year-old decorated veteran, retired Colonel Bud Day, who volunteered for both World War II and the Vietnam War, and who ended up spending 30 months as a POW, a man whom Olbermann called "dangerously deluded" and derided as a "slob" and a "clown," to paint John McCain as agreeing with what the MSNBC host referred to as Day's "racism and religious hatred." After quoting part of a recent statement by Day in which he referred generically to "the Muslims," instead of "Muslim extremists," as wanting either to "kill us" or to force Americans to "kneel," Olbermann suggested that McCain "agrees" that Muslims in general are the enemy. As he tagged Day as "Worst Person in the World," Olbermann slammed McCain: "And you heard him [Day]: John agrees with him. As of tonight, John's campaign has refused to repudiate Day's racism and religious hatred. Maybe John needs to get rid of this clown but fast. Bud ‘The Muslims are Going to Kill Us' Day, today's ‘Worst Person in the World.'" (Transcript follows)
Last week, the BBC aired a new TV series titled "Bonekickers" touted as a "groundbreaking" show where "history comes alive," and a series that is "Based in fact." The premier episode, though features an odd thing if "fact" is the aim of the Beeb's new TV series: a Christian beheading a Muslim. Yeah, THAT is really a "fact" based premise, isn't it?
Of course, the few remaining Christians in Britain have found themselves a bit put out by this "fact based" show where it is a Christian beheading a Muslim instead of the other way 'round.
And it isn't just a beheading, the entire episode turns our current "fact based" reality on its head as the plot gives us a group of "right wing Christians" bent on purging England of its immigrant population, a group the TV series is fictionalizing as the "White Wings Alliance." In a day when extremist Muslims the world over are killing people for not being a Muslim, this show features the exact opposite situation. Christian "extremists" killing innocent, moderate Muslims. For what reason? Only the Beeb knows for sure.
Exploring the notion that some Anglican parishes could soon return to full communion with Rome in protest of the Church of England allowing ordination of female bishops, Time magazine writers David Van Biema and Jeff Israely felt it necessary to throw in some loaded language about how English conservative Anglicans are different than their American Episcopal cousins:
Both the special nature of the English crisis and the Pope's possible involvement hinge on the fact that most of the English dissidents this week are not the evangelical, Bible-thumping members of the Communion whose fury at the American ordination of an openly gay bishop has led to talks of schism this summer. Rather they are members of a faction, heavy on liturgy and ritual, that abhors evangelicalism but considers itself very close to the Catholicism from which the Anglican Church originally sprang.
But wait, if conservative Anglicans across the Pond are about to bolt their church because the Bible forbids female bishops, how is that any less "Bible-thumping" than conservative Episcopals in the United States leaving the church because of openly homosexual bishops, a practice that also runs afoul of Scripture?
You have to wonder sometimes what the headline writers at the news network Web sites are thinking.
Take in this gem from FoxNews.com today:
Um, yeah, the "notion of [a] suffering" Messiah comes from Hebrew prophecy itself (see Isaiah 53), according to historic Christian teaching, which holds that Jesus Christ fulfilled the numerous prophecies about the Messiah from the Old Testament, starting from Genesis 3:15 (the protoevangelion) and extending all the way through the books of "the Law and the Prophets" (Acts 28:23).
It's hardly an earth-shattering notion that Jesus Christ was prophesied in the Old Testament, and even journalists who don't believe in Jesus as Messiah should surely have a functional knowledge of this basic, nay central, claim of orthodox Christianity.
Covering the recent decision by a synod of bishops in the Anglican Church to permit the ordination of female bishops, CNN.com repeatedly alluded to "traditionalist" opposition to women holding episcopal office, but failed to find one such spokesman for traditionalists to defend the theology behind the position. (h/t Damian G. of Conservathink)
Indeed, the one traditionalist cited in the article had a middle-ground position, saying he had no problem with female bishops, so long as conservative Anglicans could have an out of sorts. Of course that compromise was smacked down in another synod vote:
Near the end of Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show" there was a taped segment of co-host Julie Chen talking to the executive producer of the CBS reality show "Big Brother," Allison Grodner, who previewed some of the contestants in the show’s new season: "Dan is a Catholic school teacher from Michigan. He really doesn't think women are equal. And he felt really strongly, especially, about the possibility that Hillary Clinton would have become president. He said he would have left the country. And he was dead serious about that."
After describing the stereotypical conservative white male, Grodner went on to describe an Obama supporter on the show, a young Afircan-American woman: "Libra is the rebel mom and strong opinions, very liberal. She's the Obama girl in Bush country." Just prior to that description of the "rebel Obama girl" a clip was played of the conservative Dan explaining his opposition to Obama: "My only concern is Barack Obama is wildy charismatic, has a huge aura around him. Which, if you're not very educated, you may vote for him just because, you know, he's more charismatic."
"Big Brother," which is hosted by Chen, seems to be taking a political angle this season. Watch video of cast preview here.
Here we go again. Another relic pops up of questionable authenticity that one or two experts is saying casts doubts on the unique claims of Christian orthodoxy. So of course Time.com put the story of the so-called "Gabriel's Revelation" tablet in its July 7 top stories lineup (see screencap at right), with the teaser headline, "Was Jesus' Resurrection a Sequel?"
The story by David Van Biema and Tim McGirk breathlessly began by noting how this "revelation" could set some orthodox Christians on edge:
A 3-ft.-high tablet romantically dubbed "Gabriel's Revelation" could challenge the uniqueness of the idea of the Christian Resurrection. The tablet appears to date authentically to the years just before the birth of Jesus and yet - at least according to one Israeli scholar - it announces the raising of a messiah after three days in the grave. If true, this could mean that Jesus' followers had access to a well-established paradigm when they decreed that Christ himself rose on the third day - and it might even hint that they they could have applied it in their grief after their master was crucified.
But then Van Biema and McGirk dialed it down a bit (emphasis mine):
The general election campaign began in earnest when Barack Obama wrapped up the Democratic nomination the night of June 3. Since then, the New York Times has continued to flatter the Obama campaign with superior coverage, as shown in a story count conducted by Times Watch.
Consistently, Barack Obama and his wife Michelle were portrayed as racial trailblazers whose religious beliefs and patriotism (and his lack of a flag pin) came under vicious and unfair attacks by conservatives. Meanwhile, John McCain was portrayed as a stiff, out-of-touch, gaffe-prone speaker struggling to appease the right wing of his party.
Between June 5 and July 5 (skipping June 4 to eliminate the pro-Obama skew from news reports of him clinching the Democratic nomination), the Times ran 90 stories on Barack Obama, compared to 57 on McCain (there was some overlap, as several stories devoted significant space to both candidates). Times Watch logged those stories one of three ways, as either positive, negative or neutral toward the respective candidate. The findings were striking: If Hillary Clinton thought she got an unfair shake from the press against Barack Obama (she did), then John McCain certainly has a legitimate bias beef against the Times.
He ain't triangulating, he's my post-partisan. That's Eugene Robinson's innovative new MSM means of covering for Barack Obama. As Obama sprints toward the center and away from many of the positions that won him the nomination from the liberal Dem base, WaPo columnist Robinson has suggested that the nominee isn't engaging in the kind of cynical "triangulating" that made Bill Clinton famous. No, Obama's just being the post-partisan he really was all along.
Robinson trotted out his theory on last evening's "Race for the White House" on MSNBC in reaction to Obama's announcement, mirabile dictu, that far from junking Pres. Bush's Office of Faith-Based Initiatives—long a target of the secular left—a President Obama would actually expand the program! Sounds like a cynical ploy to some. But not to Robinson . . .
The Los Angeles Times continues to demonstrate that it is simply unable to reliably provide truthful information about the Catholic faith. A June 27, 2008, book review in the Los Angeles Times, by staffer William Lobdell, falsely claims,
The concept of papal infallibility wasn't introduced until 1870, and the only infallible statement issued by a pope was in 1950 when Pius XII declared that Mary, upon her death, was assumed bodily into heaven.
There are two significant errors in this one sentence. First: Lobdell is wrong that the "concept of papal infallibility wasn't introduced until 1870." Although the doctrine was not formally defined until 1870 at the First Vatican Council, its "concept" (as Lobdell would say) can be traced back to the earliest years of the Church.
Derrick Z. Jackson of the Boston Globe has done it again. Now, usually Z is one of those columnists that is sure every white American is a racist and many of his columns are based on that assumption, but it looks like he is branching out from his normal black/white identity politics angle and adding a new twist to his column. You see, Z has just discovered that whites don't hate only blacks, they hate Muslims too. How inclusive, eh?
Even more ridiculously, Z imagines that white Muslim haters in "red states" are forcing Barack Obama to distance himself from his Muslim background. In fact, according to Z, Islam is the victim of white America's newest "red scare" and Obama is feeling the heat because of that undue hatred. It all means we are "Holding Muslims at arm's length" to Derrick Z. Jackson.
Great news for free speech fans that likely won't get reported much of anywhere outside the rightosphere: the national Canadian "Human Rights" Commission has declined to prosecute a "hate speech" allegation against columnist and author Mark Steyn and the magazine Maclean's.
The allegation, brought against Steyn as part of an effort by the Canadian Islamic Congress (that country's resident apologists for radical Islam comparable to CAIR here) to use the government to censor critics of Islam. It was the second of three motions before three separate bodies to be dismissed; Steyn still awaits the decision of the British Columbia provincial commission.
The national commission did not announce the dismissal publicly so here's the Maclean's reaction:
On June 20, I blogged about how All Saints Episcopal Church in Phoenix, Arizona, was thanked at the conclusion of a viral video entitled "I'm Voting Republican." The video featured actors portraying Republican voters who sounded left-wing talking points, including one portraying a minister saying that he was voting GOP because women should "never, ever, ever" be trusted with decisions over their own bodies.
After publishing my blog post, I called the church office for comment, leaving a voice mail for the church's financial administrator, who was thanked by name in the credits.
Checking my e-mail tonight I found the following e-mail reply, by the executive assistant to All Saints' rector, denying advance knowledge by church officials of the "content... or intended use" of the video:
"Good Morning America" co-host Robin Roberts treated Father Michael Pfleger to a fawning interview on Thursday in which she mostly ignored his radical comments and lauded the "maverick priest," describing him as "not someone to be silenced."
Although, a previous segment featured a single clip of Pfleger's sermon at the former church of Barack Obama where he viciously attacked Senator Hillary Clinton, Roberts ignored other, more inflammatory remarks by the priest, such as his assertion, made during the same sermon as the Clinton attack, that "America has been raping people of color and America has to pay the price for the rape!" Of course, Roberts didn't mention this quote. Instead, she spun Pfleger as someone who is "passionate about the Word" and cheered the anti-crime and poverty work he's done.
George Stephanopoulos might be Chief Washington Correspondent of ABC News, but that apparently doesn’t stop him from hosting partisan book parties at his Georgetown home for Democratic authors trying to help the Democrats "get religion" and nab some more voters of faith. In Thursday’s Washington Post, religion reporter Michelle Boorstein wrote a story boosting the new book by Michael Sean Winters on wooing Catholics back into the Democratic fold:
All the pieces were there for a classic Washington celebrity book party: George Stephanopoulos's gorgeously appointed Georgetown home, media glitterati like Chris Matthews milling around, a book about politics, a bunch of priests.
A bunch of priests?
If anything embodied the complicated, shifting and sort of weird relationship between politics and religion these days -- particularly on the left -- it was the party Tuesday night for local writer Michael Sean Winters's new book: "Left at the Altar: How the Democrats Lost the Catholics and How the Catholics Can Save the Democrats."
Over the course of two programs on Tuesday evening, CNN political analyst Roland Martin unhesitatingly ran to the defense of Barack Obama against the recent criticism of Dr. James Dobson, who characterized the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate of "distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology" in a 2006 speech. On the "Election Center" program, Martin tried to deny Dobson’s influence in the American evangelical community: " I think we're doing the nation a disservice by calling James Dobson an evangelical leader." Then on "Anderson Cooper 360," he accused Dobson and other evangelicals of wanting to "tear down Obama, the person who is talking about faith..."
Former top Democratic aide-turned ABC journalist George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday spun Barack Obama's repeated exclusions of Muslims as a way to "combat this issue" that he is a follower of Islam. Reacting to a question by "Good Morning America" co-host Robin Roberts about Muslim voters feeling snubbed by the Democratic presidential candidate, Stephanopoulos admitted that the campaign is distancing itself from anything Islamic.
He then justified, "What the Obama campaign makes no apologies for, though, is trying to combat this issue that's really running around e-mail chains all across the country that Barack Obama is a Muslim. He is not." Stephanopoulos continued, "And they feel that they have to take every possible step they can to combat these rumors." In other words, the fact that the Obama campaign excluded two Muslim women from a campaign rally last week is an understandable reaction for someone trying to "combat rumors?"
By now you may have seen press coverage of a new viral video entitled "I'm Voting Republican" in which numerous people give facetious reasons for voting GOP this November, all of them echoing liberal memes about conservatives and Republicans.
But checking the credits, I came across something that caught my eye, the "Special Thanks" portion of the video credits. One thing in particular stood out, a note of thanks to "All Saints' Episcopal Church." The name appearing above that credit lists one "Shelley Dudley" as another person thanked for her help. Since SyntheticHuman Pictures, the company that produced the "I'm Voting Republican" video hails from Phoenix, I quickly found the Web page for the church in question and that Ms. Dudley is the church's financial administrator.
One of the scenes in the video features an actor named Jason J. Baker portraying one Rev. David Madison saying, "I'm voting Republican because women just can't be trusted to make decisions about their own bodies. Never, ever, ever." Behind Baker is a stained-glass window.
Given the partisan nature of the video and the advice the company gives in a "Get Involved" section of its Web site for concerned viewers to join liberal groups like MoveOn.org, it may be worth someone in the mainstream media asking if it's appropriate for a church to let its facilities be used for the filming of a partisan video.
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez described the Catholic Church’s refusal to allow filming on Church property of a movie prequel to "The DaVinci Code," starring Tom Hanks, this way: "...the battle between Tom Hanks and the Vatican. You know he's in Rome filming the prequel to 'The Da Vinci Code,' 'Angels and Demons,' and the Church there is up in arms, they're barring them from filming in churches. They believe the film, like the book, is sacrilegious."
On Wednesday, ABC’s "Good Morning America" featured a story on the controversy in which correspondent Nick Watt declared: "When the might of Rome clashes with a literary behemoth, expect some colorful language. 'An offense against God,' is what a diocese of Rome spokesman just called this book." Watt then later proclaimed: "The Dan Brown express will not be stopped," to which GMA co-host Diane Sawyer replied: "Yes, Nick, I mean that's the irony, isn't it? The more the Church complains, probably the better it is for the business."
Meanwhile, on Thursday’s "Early Show," correspondent Allen Pizzey explained: "Fans of the book, 'Angels and Demons,' keep streaming into the churches in Rome where the plot unfolds. But the film crew turning it into a movie has been banned from them and any other Church property. The plot is not overly anti-Church, but some of the most graphic scenes are not something with which the Church wants to be associated."
CNN, following in the footsteps of ABCNews.com’s overblown take on the subject, couldn’t help but to insert snotty language into its report on the Catholic Diocese of Rome’s denial to the filming of the movie adaptation of Dan Brown’s "Angels and Demons." CNN international correspondent Jennifer Eccleston, closing her report on Thursday’s "American Morning," labeled the Church’s refusal, based on "The Da Vinci Code" book and movie’s bashing of the Catholic faith, "a big problem in Rome, where some sins are just too grave to be forgiven -- even if they're for art's sake."
"Sins" that are "just too grave to be forgiven" calls to mind Matthew 12:32, where Jesus Christ refers to blasphemy against the Holy Ghost as a sin that won’t be forgiven "neither in this world, nor in the world to come." It isn’t certain that Eccleston had this scriptural quotation in mind, but she certainly gave the impression that the Church is being "un-Christian" for not letting Ron Howard and Tom Hanks film there.
ABCNews.com, reporting on the Catholic Diocese of Rome refusing permission to Ron Howard’s plans to film the movie prequel to Dan Brown’s "The DaVinci Code" in two historic churches, used loaded wording in the headline: "Church Cracks Down on New ‘Da Vinci’ Film."
The lead for the report, written by Phoebe Natanson and Luchina Fisher, also used similar imagery to describe the Catholic Church’s refusal: "Once again, the Catholic Church is coming down hard on writer Dan Brown, the author of ‘The Da Vinci Code.’ The producers of Brown's latest thriller to be made into a film, ‘Angels and Demons,’ have been banned from filming key scenes inside any church in Rome, on the grounds that the book is "an offense against God," according to a church spokesman.
Speaking of "coming down hard," wasn’t Brown doing just that in "The Da Vinci Code" by depicting the Catholic Church as a nefarious organization?
I noticed this photo accompanying an unrelated and relatively straightforward AP story at MSNBC.com about Barack Obama's electoral strategy. As you can see, it falls into the Obama-as-messiah mold, albeit a little more subliminal and requiring more biblical literacy than previous still shots:
Photo by Alex Brandon/AP. Caption: "Sen. Barack Obama walks to the pulpit to speak at the Apostolic Church of God service about fatherhood in Chicago on Sunday."
As you can see from the photo, the background is a brick wall with the text "Jesus Christ Is Lord" emblazoned beneath a depiction of a descending dove. Depicting Obama beneath it evokes to the biblically literate reader the account of the descent of the Holy Spirit as a dove upon Jesus after his baptism, as recorded in all four gospel accounts.
It was all just an "error" that's since been "fine-tuned." So says Barnes & Noble [B&N] now about the way its search engine was prominently returning Barack Obama's "Audacity of Hope" in response to search requests for "God: A Biography." We wrote about the matter here last Thursday.
Today, reader Dan H. wrote to tell us about an interesting exchange of emails he had with B&N regarding the situation. According to Dan, after reading our NewsBusters article, he emailed B&N to express his displeasure, and received what to all appearances was a form letter focusing on freedom of expression, rather than the substance of the complaint.
On the one hand, I have to give the Washington Post some credit for its biased June 16 story about a new pro-life pharmacy set to open in northern Virginia this summer. Even with its less-than-fair treatment, it informs pro-life readers of a new pharmacy they may wish to patronize. Of course the store opening is worthy of news coverage for a number of reasons, such as the intersection of faith and professional ethics in health care, but unfortunately, staffer Rob Stein started right off the bat slanting coverage in a way to disparage the enterprise.
When DMC Pharmacy opens this summer on Route 50 in Chantilly, the shelves will be stocked with allergy remedies, pain relievers, antiseptic ointments and almost everything else sold in any drugstore. But anyone who wants condoms, birth control pills or the Plan B emergency contraceptive will be turned away.
Chicago Tribune religion reporter and blogger Manya Brachear echoed a familiar liberal media meme about orthodox Christianity in her latest "The Seeker" blog post, "Have Southern Baptists lost their way?" (emphases mine):
As a number of conservative Protestant denominations now face decline, leaders have chosen to batten down the hatches, endorse orthodoxy and herald the importance of sharing their faith with others.
But if these denominations narrow their theology at the same time they widen their outreach, is anybody going to listen?
Joy Behar, who has made anti-Catholic remarks in the past, appeared unforgiving about Mel Gibson’s past anti-Semitic slurs. Discussing the news that the actor and Oscar winning director was counseling Britney Spears, Behar expressed outrage that Britney’s mother would "allow" the pop star, who is 26, to seek help from Gibson.
Behar reminded the audience of Gibson’s now notorious anti-Semitic comments upon his DUI arrest. "The View" co-host exclaimed she would never send her daughter to an "anti-Semite." Elisabeth Hasselbeck reminded Behar that Spears is an adult whose mother no longer has that authority.
My colleague Tim Graham and I have found over the years that religion reporting in the secular media is often lacking any exploration of the one thing most of us who actually geek out over religion news want to see given attention in the press: theological disputes. After all, what's the point of having a reporter cover religion if you're not going to have him or her go into the substantial theological battle lines drawn in a given church or denomination.
In her June 11 article, "Southern Baptists Elect New Leader," Washington Post's Jacqueline Salmon completely failed to report on such a major theological implication in the Protestant denomination's election of the Rev. Johnny M. Hunt as convention president.True to liberal media form, Salmon boiled down Hunt and his supporters as the "fundamentalist wing" who are "hard line on the inerrancy of scripture" and opposed to the more relaxed "young reformers" who have questioned the old line Baptists on "its bans on alcohol consumption and female pastors."
Yet Salmon neglected one major theological debate roiling in the SBC that is part of a wider centuries-old conflict: Calvinism vs. Arminianism. Wrote Christianity Today's Ted Olsen in a June 10 post:
In yet another example of why the west could be too weak to fight the sort of global terrorism that takes the form of Islamofascism, a textbook monitoring group is charging that American textbooks have been cleansed of mentioning the violence inherent in the Islamic "Jihad." Now, our children will not be taught what "Jihad" truly means, nor that it has been used as an excuse to kill their fellow citizens because our schools have sanitized Islam of all outrage and violence. Will the media follow this story and report that our children are being exposed to Islamic propaganda like this?
According to the New York Examiner, the American Textbook Council reports that textbooks approved for middle and high schools students have caved in to a politically correct cleansing of Islam and dumbed down history critical to a fuller understanding of Muslim history -- one that reflects on our own times.