Why is it every time I see a newspulper headline about Barack Obama I envision the editors in near orgasmic delight over the "multiculturalism" they perceive in Obama, or the "connection" he has with all the peoples of the world? Or the near hero worship of his "clean and articulate" abilities they wallow in, for that matter? And how come I get a corresponding feeling that all I am getting is delightful puffs of air but no substance when I'm done reading the piece that goes with the sweetness and honey that is the headline?
What in heaven's name has gotten into Sam Harris? The Los Angeles Times regularly lends its op-ed page to the atheist activist. In God's Dupes, Harris took advantage of the opportunity today to make a bizarre and slanderous accusation against American Christians.
He began by equating conservative Christians with Jihadist murderers: "Within every faith one can see people arranged along a spectrum of belief. Picture concentric circles of diminishing reasonableness: At the center, one finds the truest of true believers — the Muslim jihadis, for instance, who not only support suicidal terrorism but who are the first to turn themselves into bombs; or the Dominionist Christians, who openly call for homosexuals and blasphemers to be put to death."
Washington Post arts critic Philip Kennicott is enraptured in Tuesday's paper that an annual lecture sponsored by the federal-arts-subsidy lobby had evolved from "conservative curmudgeon" William Safire to a more traditional "bold and perhaps even controversial speech that included sustained criticism of religious fundamentalism." From who? Former PBS anchor Robert MacNeil, who used to be one-half of the MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour. Like your average liberal media anchor, MacNeil wouldn't know a fundamentalist from an evangelical from an orthodox Catholic as he lectured (sigh) that Christian fundamentalists are awfully similar to Islamic fundamentalists:
"It is inevitable that artists should become the targets of such fundamentalist anxieties," he said. "Because it is in the nature of artists to push the frontiers of taste and morality, to show society both its pieties and its hypocrisies."
Brent Bozell's culture column this week unfolds the new polling numbers for the MRC's Culture and Media Institute on the American people's impression of moral decline and the media's role in it:
A new cultural-values survey of 2,000 American adults performed by the polling firm of Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates for the Culture and Media Institute reveals a strong majority, 74 percent, believes moral values in America are weaker than they were 20 years ago. Almost half, 48 percent, agree that values are much weaker than they were 20 years ago.
The Newsweek feature BeliefWatch has become a true intersection of left-wing ideology and non-traditional religious beliefs. Except of course when it comes to bashing conservative Christians. Then it sticks right with the media’s low standards.
The March 19 BeliefWatch by Lisa Miller called James Dobson of Focus on the Family the “religious right's standard-bearer and junkyard dog.” Miller bashed “Dobson's Lear-like fury” for daring to criticize allegedly eco-evangelist Rich Cizik, “the Washington-based lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals.”
Dobson complained that Cizik wasn’t representing evangelicals about the religion of the moment – the environment. But Miller saw red instead of green and said Dobson’s real agenda wasn’t religion – it was politics. “In other words, he’s thought to be a Democratic sympathizer, and in an election season, displays of evangelical unity are critical,” she said of “tree hugger” Cizik.
A front-page article in today's Los Angeles Times (Saturday, March 10, 2007) trumpets that an "Evangelical Agenda Fight is Heating Up." The piece is by Stephanie Simon, whose slanted coverage we've once cited here. Among the number of problems in Simon's latest piece:
1. In the article, Simon tags James Dobson of Focus on the Family as a "conservative crusader." Fair enough. But the Rev. Jim Wallis, who openly advised Democrats and Sen. Kerry during the 2004 campaign (here), avoids any "liberal" tag. He is simply identified as the "best-known champion of such causes" as "citizenship for illegal immigrants, universal healthcare and caps on carbon emissions." Wallis and some other pastors want to expand the evangelical agenda to include issues such as global warming.
For all those wondering just how many Americans view the media as a major contributor to the moral decay in the country, Cheryl Wetzstein’s article in Thursday’s Washington Times is a must read (h/t NB reader bulletproof, emphasis mine throughout):
Most Americans think culture is becoming more immoral, and they view the media -- both entertainment and news -- as prime culprits, according to a new survey.
If the media continue to "singularly promote" secular values while undermining orthodox faith and values, it will be very difficult to reverse America's moral decline, said the National Cultural Values Survey, released yesterday by the Culture and Media Institute (CMI) of the Media Research Center.
Wetzstein shared some fascinating data from the CMI survey:
As reported by NewsBuster Ken Shepherd Wednesday, America’s newspapers are getting rid of their religion sections like bad habits.
Speaking of losing one’s religion, Comedy Central Wednesday evening featured the star of the “Sarah Silverman Program” having sex with God, and disparagingly tossing him out of bed in the morning using the lame excuse that she had to help her friend move out of her apartment (video available here).
NBC's Today has a special attraction to stories "updating" Jesus, going "On The Road" with The DaVinci Code, and just last week, promoting the idea that the bones of Jesus had been located in an ossuary in Jerusalem. On Wednesday, liberal priest, sociologist and author Andrew Greeley, a longtime NBC favorite, came on the air to promote his new book about Jesus and his relationships with women. Father Greeley "updated" Jesus so dramatically that he practically put him in league with NARAL and Planned Parenthood:
Curry: "He, he also, according to you, had very good relationships with women. Very strong friendships with women."
Greeley: "If he were alive today and behaved the same way he would be considered to be a radical feminist."
The same day the MRC's Culture and Media Institute (CMI) released its study [pdf available here] dealing with the media's preference for "secular progressive" values over those of those of orthodox religious faiths, evangelical magazine Christianity Today noticed that many newspapers are losing their religion [sections].
The CMI study concluded that:
Americans have clearly identified the media as primary culprits in the
nation’s moral decline. If the media continue to singularly promote
Progressive values and a secular worldview, while undermining Orthodox
faith and values, reversing America’s moral decline will be very
In her March 7 article, writer Sarah Pulliam noticed a mixed bag on the media's handling of religion coverage. Apparently even as many newspapers end or severely restrict religion coverage in print, religion news-oriented newspaper blogs prove popular with readers:
Kenneth Walsh of U.S. News & World Report tried to reassure readers of a new, moderating Hillary in an article titled "Crafting the New Hillary."
Is that being done by her handlers, or by the liberal media as well?
Walsh reported she was moving to the center, on economics and even on
Clinton is also trying to come across as more cautious and centrist, if often ambiguous in her policy stands, to reassure independents and conservatives. In an interview with CNBC's Power Lunch
last week, she urged Bush to address fundamental problems in the
economy, such as soaring foreign debt and massive budget deficits. She
called the stock market plunge a "wake-up call" and encouraged the
administration to find some "sensible and reasonable" answers.
Over the years, the liberal media has often insisted that Hillary
Rodham Clinton is a centrist, even a conservative when it comes to
traditional values. That's why it's important to know that when
evidence unfolds quietly that instead, Senator Clinton is solidly and
passionately on the left-wing vanguard promoting the widest possible
berth in America for abortion and homosexuality, the media will stay
New video of Hillary speaking and being passionately
supported on Friday, March 2, at a board meeting of the Human Rights
Campaign, the nation's largest radical gay-left group, is now on YouTube.
In her speech, Hillary takes after social conservatives who fought for
a Federal Marriage Amendment to prevent "gay marriage" from being the
new and emerging law of the land: "This amendment was wedge politics at
its worst. It was mean-spirited. It was against the entire forward
movement of American history. It was the first time that anyone was
proposing that we amend the Constitution to deny citizens rights,
rather than widen the circle of rights and opportunities."
The Associated Press is reporting Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards responded harshly Ann Coulter’s "faggot" remark. At an appearance in Berkeley, California, he said:
"I think it is important that we not reward hateful, selfish, childish behavior with attention. I also believe it is important for all of us to speak out against language of this kind; it is the place where hatred gets its foothold, and we can’t stand silently by and allow this kind of language to be used."
If only the former Senator would follow his own advice. Didn’t he reward "hateful, selfish, childish behavior" by hiring two harsh feminist, anti-Catholic, anti-Christian bloggers and then refusing to fire them? On the February 16 edition of CNN’s The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer asked him about his staffers (unlike the evasive anchors Meredith Vieira at NBC, Terry Moran at ABC, and Bob Schieffer at CBS). Edwards passively said that he "rejected" their statements and he "strongly disagrees with them." He stated that their resignations were "a personal decision" and dismissed the criticism as coming "particularly from people on the far right of the political spectrum." The transcript from The Situation Room is below.
We'll see how the electorate decides, but there's no doubt who won the "Today" show primaries this morning. For the Dems, it was Barack, and among Republicans, Rudy.
Narrating the segment on the political duel between Obama and Hillary in Selma, Alabama this weekend, Andrea Mitchell portrayed Obama as having authentic appeal, while picturing Hillary resorting to heavy-handed political tactics.
Consider Mitchell's opening line: "On the 42nd anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the historic clash over voting rights in Selma, Alabama, Barack Obama was supposed to be the main attraction, until Hillary Clinton, slipping in the polls to Obama among African-Americans, decided to come." Translation: a sinking Hillary tries to steal Barack's limelight. Not very flattering.
As Mitchell mentioned that Hillary had brought Bill because of his "enormous popularity with black voters," a clip rolled of a woman literally squealing in excitement and delight as Bill walked by in the parade. But doesn't that highlight Hillary's relative weakness as much as Bill's strength?
After stating that "Obama answered critics who say his mixed ancestry makes him not black enough," Mitchell rolled a clip of Obama speaking in a preacher's cadence as he told a church gathering: "don't tell me I'm not coming home when I come to Selma, Alabama. I'm here because somebody walked."
Compare and contrast Obama's strong -- versus Hillary's screeching -- pulpitperformances here.
NBC may no longer employ Kennedy family journalist Maria Shriver, but NBC's favorite historians can still be accused of being big Kennedy fans. A new book from RFK's daughter Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who lost a run for governor of Maryland to Bob Ehrlich in 2002, slams the religious right and warns of mixing God and politics. In a book ad in the Book World section of Sunday's Washington Post, her book boasts three promotional blurbs: one from Bill Clinton, one from perennial NBC/MSNBC guest Doris Kearns Goodwin, and one from Michael Beschloss, listed in the ad as "bestselling author and NBC News' presidential historian."
The book's title is "Failing America's Faithful: How Today's Churches Are Mixing God wth Politics and Losing Their Way." I doubt Mrs. Townsend would ever write a book about Martin Luther King Jr., lamenting how he mixed God with politics. But if the cause is conservative, then the religion is spoiled. The book summary on Amazon explained:
Fox & Friends Weekend hasn't lost Kiran Chetry -- it's gained Ainsley Earhardt. The recent FNC hire began her tenure on this weekend's shows, and by all appearances has made a smooth landing. Sandwiched between the "Kelly Brothers," Kelly Wright and Greg Kelly, one of the first stories the trio discussed this morning was the results of the presidential straw poll at this weekend's CPAC conference in Washington.
Kelly Wright described Mitt Romney's straw poll win as a surprise "because of his Mormon background," then added that "he isn't running to be chief theologian, he's running to be chief executive officer of the United States." Observed Earhardt: "a lot of people were skeptical about [Romney] but many people after hearing him speak at the CPAC conference yesterday, many people were calling to say he's going to be the top candidate." Ainsley also made reference to Newt's relatively strong showing of 14% despite the fact that he won't join the race, if at all, until at least September.
Despite growing into a massive network, National Public Radio still demonstrates signs of being the same countercultural liberal listening post that came of age in the Vietnam era. On Thursday’s Morning Edition, NPR covered war and post-traumatic stress disorder in a trendy liberal way: as an opportunity to sell combat veterans on the mystical healing power of yoga.
Government-subsidized yoga for veterans? NPR reporter Allan Coukell (sounded like "Cockle") suggested it’s the government-funded wave of the future: "So far, most of the veterans have been paying for the sessions themselves, but [Tom] Boyle hopes the Veterans Affairs system will start to offer yoga nationwide. He already sees PTSD and other symptoms of battle stress in troops back from Iraq — and he knows thousands more are still to come."
Ever heard of the Wise Men of Chelm? They are the well-intentioned but foolish residents of an imaginary Jewish village, and the object of humor that stretches back 500 years. Here's one story. One of the "wise men" is sent to a neighboring village to bring back a horse. On the way home the horse wanders off and is lost. "Schlemiel!" remonstrate the townspeople with him. "Don't you know you have to lead the horse back on a rope?"
A week later the same man is sent off to bring back a slab of butter. Learning from his mistake and taking the advice to heart, he drags the butter all the way home along the dusty road on a rope.
The Wise Men are still with us. They might be gone from Chelm, but continue to populate academia and the MSM. One resident popped up on the pages of the Boston Globe this morning. Andrew Bacevich is professor of history and international relations at Boston University. In Rescinding the Bush Doctrine, Bacevich calls for Congress to learn from the errors of President Bush's ways in Iraq, and "focus on averting any recurrence of this misadventure." And just how would the well-intentioned professor rope in our foreign policy and prevent it from wandering off, so to speak? By formally and legislatively renouncing the use of preventive war. Specifically, Bacevich calls on Democratic leaders to "offer a binding resolution that makes the following three points":
First, the United States categorically renounces preventive war.
Second, the United States will henceforth consider armed force to be an instrument of last resort.
Third, except in response to a direct attack on the United States, any future use of force will require prior Congressional authorization, as required by the Constitution.
Update/Correction (3/1/2007, 10:32 EST): Oops. Ted Olsen is the online managing editor for Christianity Today and he e-mailed me to point out his byline as the "former solicitor general" was part of the satire. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go have lunch with James Cameron...
Former solicitor general Ted Olsen wrote a brief satire that illustrates the absurdity of filmmaker James Cameron's belief that he's found the remains of Christ because he found a family tomb in Israel bearing the names Jesus and Mary. It's posted at Christianity Today's Web log.
Most people who tune in to morning TV "news" programs know the unbearable lightness of the product, full of celebrity cotton candy and tragic tales of tabloid woe, of climbers lost on mountains and teenagers lost in the tropics. So it was a little shocking to be diverted from that maudlin box of info-bon bons known as the Anna Nicole Smith deathmatch to questions on the grand and glorious subject of Biblical anthropology, and a "discovery" of the alleged bones of Jesus.
Why this whiplash-inducing change of subject? It's sad but true that the "Today" crew went into promotional hyperdrive for the Discovery Channel special on the alleged bones of Jesus because someone spread Hollywood glitter on it -- James Cameron, the director of "Titanic." (Christians are joking among themselves that Cameron doesn't seem to know who the real King of the World is.) The Cameron connection has been a constant attraction for The Discovery Channel.
The press releases of the Discovery Channel boast that its parent company, Discovery Communications, is the “number one nonfiction media company.” That identifier is now in shambles, and the paper it’s printed on fit only to be crumpled and thrown away. The folks at Discovery have rendered themselves carnival barkers peddling sensationalistic garbage, trashy money-making gimmicks dressed up as real journalism.
The Discovery Channel is hyping to the heavens its new documentary on “The Lost Tomb of Jesus.” James Cameron, the Oscar-winning director of “Titanic,” has joined filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici in publicizing claims that a 2,000-year-old tomb containing 10 boxes of bones belonged to the family of Jesus of Nazareth. It also echoes the dopey “DaVinci Code” novel by asserting that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, that the couple had a son. They claim the son was named Judah and that all three were buried together.
As noted in NewsBusters on Monday, NBC’s "Today" show breathlessly reported the claims, articulated by filmmaker James Cameron in a new Discovery Channel documentary, that the tomb of Jesus, with Christ buried inside, has been located. Co-anchor Matt Lauer hyped the network’s exclusive interview with Cameron by credulously repeating the documentary’s assertions and stating the film could "rock Christianity to its core."
In contrast, the other networks provided a more skeptical interpretation. On the February 26 edition of ABC’s "Nightline," anchor Terry Moran repeatedly noted that many archaeologists are skeptical of the claims that the tomb of Jesus and a reported family have been found. On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," reporter Dan Harris prefaced a segment on the subject by observing, "If the claims in this new documentary are true, and many people doubt that they are, they would challenge some of Christianity's central articles of faith..." Over on CBS, "Early Show" anchor Hannah Storm peppered the film’s director, Simcha Jacobovici, with a number of tough questions:
Hannah Storm: "Simcha, are you attacking the basic tenets of Christianity that Jesus indeed rose from the dead?"
Hannah Storm: "What about people who say this is nothing more than a publicity stunt, Simcha?"
In a press statement released today, MRC President Brent Bozell urged the Discovery Channel to table the misleading James Cameron documentary "The Lost Tomb of Jesus."
“If the Discovery Channel fails to
cancel this slanderous ‘documentary,’ it will have to explain why it is
intentionally misleading the public,” said L. Brent Bozell III,
president of the Media Research Center, referring to Sunday’s upcoming
airing of The Tomb of Jesus. “They should be embarrassed by this plunge
into sensational speculation masquerading as ‘science.’ To slander
Christianity at the start of the Lenten season is unconscionable.”
First, take a look at the appalling illustration that accompanies the article in Time magazine this week (February 26, 2007, page 46). In the darkest of colors and tones, a sinister-looking, pasty-faced priest is pictured. As his empty, white eyes furtively peer back towards the viewer, his pale, wiry fingers grip what looks to be a Bible. Paper money is leafing out of the book pages. (I've posted the illustration here.) The artist is Sam Weber. I don't know if he's familiar with the 19th-century anti-Catholic drawings by Thomas Nast or the modern-day, anti-Vatican caricatures by Jack Chick; but I bet both guys would be proud. (By the way, do you think Time would allow the same caricature using a rabbi? I wouldn't think so.)
The article is, "Pilfering Priests," by Tim Padgett. (Online, the title is "When Priests Pilfer.") The heading below the main title warns, "the Catholic Church is facing another crisis: clergy who steal money from their parishes." Interesting. But what are the facts?
Brought to you by the same people who couldn't get enough of Ron Howard's Christian-bashing The Da Vinci Code, comes another promotional effort of yet another Hollywood director's take on Jesus Christ conspiracy theories. At the top of the show NBC Today host Matt Lauer greeted viewers with the following tease about James Cameron's new documentary: "A shocking new claim that an ancient burial place may have housed the bones of Christ and a son. This morning a Today exclusive that could rock Christianity to its core."
Today co-host Meredith Vieira conducted the interview and promoted the discovery this way: "There are so few 'wow' stories out there, this is one of them." While Today did air some contradictory statements for the most part the entire segment ran as a full blown infomercial for Cameron's documentary. The following are all the teases and then the full segment as it aired on the 7:30am half-hour of the February 26th Today show:
Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez has never been shy in taking slaps at the Catholic Church, especially the archdiocese of Los Angeles. And then there was his February 18, 2007, column, in which facts and truth went by the wayside. Wrote Lopez,
Look, I was never a perfect student in Catholic school. But I recall a thing or two about the Christian duty of looking after the neediest amongst us. And if I've learned anything in the last two years, it's that this city has a lot of need.
It's time for [Los Angeles Cardinal Roger] Mahony to lead his army of Christian soldiers down the hill and into the service of their fellow men. I know from experience that one person can make a difference in someone's life. I'd even volunteer, selflessly, to make some introductions.
Is there any canard against President Bush more tired than the notion that he ignores the Establishment Clause, or as his liberal critics tend to put it, the "separation of church and state"? Maureen Dowd offered a classic exemplar of the criticism on this morning's Meet the Press, telling Tim Russert that: "W has sort of merged church and state while trying to keep them apart in Iraq."
Russert didn't ask Dowd to substantiate her assertion. But when Bush antagonists are pressed for proof, they typically point to the president's Faith-Based Initiative and the manner in which the W incorporates religious themes in his public pronouncements. But as has been documented, Pres. Bush has in fact invoked religion much less explicitly than many of his predecessors, including liberal icon FDR. In his D-Day prayer, for example, Roosevelt stated, among other things, that "with Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy." I defy Dowd or others sharing her view to provide an example of Pres. Bush coming anywhere close to FDR in suggesting that God is on our side. As for the Faith-Based Initiative, it incorporates a variety of safeguards specifically designed to prevent violation of the Establishment clause, including the following:
There’s a new national campaign called “First Amendment First” that is looking to eliminate the influence that religion and religious groups have in setting policy and impacting elections. On Friday, former CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite endorsed their views.
As reported by MediaNews (emphasis mine throughout):
Alarmed by what they see as religious groups' growing influence on government policy, a consortium has launched a public awareness campaign to defend the First Amendment's vow that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
This is a tale of two editorials. The New York Times this morning applauds a New Jersey court ruling holding public schools liable when they fail to take measures to stop the taunting or bullying of gay students. Coincidentally, a Boston Globe editorial today applauds a Massachusetts court ruling upholding the right of the Lexington school district to expose elementary school students to children's books -- such as 'Who's in a Family?' and 'Molly's Family' -- that feature same-sex parents. This was done pursuant to a state law law that "requires that all public school districts develop curricula advancing respect for diversity, including for gays and lesbians."
In the Bay State case, parents had claimed that their constitutional rights to free exercise of religion were violated, as were their rights as parents to raise their children as they see fit. The court disagreed, ruling that "options remain for the parents, such as private school or home schooling, so their rights were not abridged." Not only did the Globe declare the judge's ruling "reasonable," it opined that "the earlier most students learn [to 'respect difference'], the better."