The "BeliefWatch" column in the front section of Newsweek magazine is often better described as a "Non-BeliefWatch," offering the latest supportive coverage of atheists, humanists, Unitarians, free-thinking leftist dissidents, and "blasphemy challengers." In this week’s "BeliefWatch," Newsweek's Lisa Miller highlights leftist Rocky Anderson, the mayor of Salt Lake City, running down Utah as deluded and denouncing Mitt Romney as a sellout to right-wing handlers.
"There is a culture of obedience in this country, but it's probably no more evident than in most parts of Utah," Anderson told NEWSWEEK in an interview. "That's why we've seen the highest approval ratings here for this entirely corrupt, disastrous presidency." As for Romney, his "opposition to abortion and stem-cell research is a very different Mitt Romney than the one who ran for governor of Massachusetts. I felt that Mitt Romney was a man who could really bring people together in a nonpartisan fashion, who would always stand up for the highest ideals and not worry about the polls ... I can only think this is a man who's caving to what his handlers want him to say."
Monday’s Early Show on CBS picked up on Time magazine’s promotional cover story "How The Democrats Got Religion." Reporter Jeff Glor used two guides to explore how the Democrats would "level the praying field," but didn’t exactly tell viewers that these guides were involved in the drive to help the Democrats. The first expert was Time magazine’s Amy Sullivan, who wrote a "God Gap" essay for the magazine. CBS didn’t explain she was an aide to then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and during her stint with the liberal magazine The Washington Monthly, she advised the Democrats on how to "get religion" in the last presidential election cycle, to no avail.
The other expert was so-called "conservative evangelical" Rev. Joel Hunter, a man eager enough to help the Democrats that he was selected by the people at the left-wing magazine Sojourners to ask Hillary Clinton a question at the CNN/Sojourners Democrat debate (clips of that event were sprinkled throughout the CBS story.) He asked Hillary Clinton a seemingly pro-life question that enabled her to proclaim that she's always been for abortion being very rare. Rev. Hunter’s also written a book titled Right Wing, Wrong Bird: Why The Tactics of the Religious Right Won't Work with Most Conservative Christians.
On the same day that he attacked the GOP as being "scared of black folks," CNN contributor Roland Martin posted a column on CNN.com in which he proclaimed the "irrelevancy" of Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church, specifically in the context of a recent document that clarified what the Catholic Church teaches about other Christian denominations. He advised non-Catholic Christians that they "shouldn't even bother getting upset" over the recent document issued by the Catholic Church. "Just chalk up to an old man trying to get a little attention," he said of Pope Benedict XVI. Martin also described the Pope as a "hardliner" who was trying to correct interpretations of the Second Vatican Council by liberals, who, in the Pope's view, had gone "too far in some of their declarations." At the same time, he also praised a Catholic priest in Chicago (Martin's current place of residence) who launched a death threat publically against a gun shop owner in a nearby suburb earlier this year.
Martin's column, as described by CNN, "are part of an occasional series of commentaries on CNN.com that offers a broad range of perspectives, thoughts, and points of view." CNN's own past indicates that they probably aren't going to make the "range of perspectives" very broad. When controversy erupted over the Danish Mohammed cartoons in 2006, they took the following stance: "CNN has chosen to not show the cartoons in respect for Islam."
What a difference a year makes. The publishing of Muhammed cartoons in the Danish newspaper Jyllends-Posten caused an uproar among Muslims worldwide last year. Despite the newsworthiness of the cartoons as they related to the unfolding story of violent riots throughout Europe and the Middle East, many news outlets reporting on the story refused to publish or show the cartoons out of, um, respect for Muslim sensibilities.
Now, the outcome of a lawsuit resulting from the fracas is left floating somewhere in a media backwater, as journalists seek more lucrative prey. A Muslim group based in Denmark that filed a libel lawsuit against a Danish political party leader has lost. They sued because Pia Kjaersgaard, leader of the Danish People's Party (DPP), accused some members of the Islamic Faith Community of treason for traveling to the Middle East in order to publicize the drawings, thus fanning the flames of violent dissent. The court found the term "treason" non-libelous "because it was used extensively in public debate."
Time magazine has a lengthy piece on Democrats and religion called, "How the Democrats Got Religion." (HT: Drudge) (Btw, the original title on the web yesterday was "Leveling the Praying Field.") It focuses on efforts by Democrats (most notably, Sens. Obama, Clinton, and Edwards) to attract voters who are religious. There is certainly an attempt at balance in the article, but the folks at the DNC must be pretty happy. The article, penned by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, claims, "The Democrats are so fired up, you could call them the new Moral Majority."
"The new Moral Majority"? Yikes. The article devotes substantial space to showing how Democrats are trying to muster up a majority to win elections, but what about the "moral" part? Gibbs and Duffy neglect a number of important issues and episodes regarding Democrats and religion. Witness:
1.John Edwards and anti-Catholicism:
How on earth do you compose a piece thousands of words long on Democrats and religion without mentioning John Edwards' gross episode with anti-Catholic bigotry earlier this year? (See this and this.)
New York Times reporter Michael Luo's front-page Saturday story on Hillary Clinton's religious faith, "For Clinton, Faith Intersects With Political Life,” was a pretty transparent attempt to moderate the candidate's secular reputation by emphasizing her religiosity.
Meanwhile, Luo naively cast Hillary Clinton as a passive spouse betrayed by her husband during the Monica Lewinsky scandal -- as if Bill Clinton’s White House philandering came as a total shock after all the years in Arkansas.
"Long before her beliefs would be tested in the most wrenching of ways as first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton taught an adult Sunday school class on the importance of forgiveness. It is a lesson, she says, that she has harked back to often."
Through the long piece, Luo portrayed Hillary as a victim.
The old-style "Latin Mass" (the "Tridentine use") of the Catholic Church was never banned, but it required the permission of a local bishop to be performed. But in a recent announcement, Pope Benedict XVI has "opened the door to wider use" of the Latin Mass by not requiring local authorization. The effect on Catholics around the world, if any, will be minimal, as the vast majority of masses will continue to be celebrated in people's own languages.
Big whoop, eh? This is the kind of news that maybe justifies a tiny "In Brief" appearance in your paper. But the Los Angeles Times never leaves a stone unturned in trying to portray Catholics and Catholic-related news in the most unflattering light. (I posted this only a few days ago.)
London-based New York Times reporter Alan Cowell was no fan of Tony Blair's support for George Bush and the Iraq War -- he particularly enjoyed repeating left-wing anti-war mockery of Blair as "Bush's poodle."
"Before Gordon Brown took power as Britain's new prime minister, there was much talk about whether the electorate would warm to the dour, methodical and detail-driven Scot, particularly after so many years of soaring oratory from his predecessor, Tony Blair
The Los Angeles Times has slammed Robin Williams' new film, License To Wed, in a review in today's paper (Wed. 7/3/07). However, the review made no mention of Williams' offensive and bigoted anti-Catholic remarks on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno two weeks ago, as reported by NB's Michael Chapman. (See also this and this.) Neither has the paper published anything about Williams' words, although the episode took place in the Times' backyard. Yet the Times gave tons o' ink to Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic tirade last year during a DUI arrest. (Read about that here.)
The story of Immaculée Ilibagiza is nothing short of remarkable. During the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Immaculée and six other women hid in a tiny bathroom in the house of a Protestant minister as rival tribesmen searched to kill them. They hid under unimaginable conditions for three months as the threat of a gruesome death lurked outside.
During my waking hours I was in constant communication with God, praying and meditating for 15 to 20 hours every day. I even dreamed of Jesus and the Virgin Mary during the few hours I slept. (page 107)
Yet when 60 Minutes profiled Ms. Ilibagiza's story last night (Sun., 7/1/07), no mention at all was made of her persistent prayer, even though this is absolutely a central component throughout her amazing story. Her prayers seemed to result in miracles during her confinement. (Read the book. I have, and it's unbelievable.)
On Thursday’s Today, NBC’s Meredith Vieira interviewed Robin Williams, introducing him jokingly that he "has always made people look to the heavens and say what was he thinking? So it's only appropriate that in his latest film, License To Wed, he plays a man of the cloth. And his character, Reverend Frank is more than a little unorthodox." He’s playing an Episcopalian minister, but all his trouble lately has been by making harsh jokes about Catholic priests and pedophilia.
On the June 18 Tonight show, Williams unfurled a whole routine suggesting there were pedophiles everywhere among the Catholic priesthood, a smear on the vast majority of serious and celibate priests, as well as mean-spirited jokes about priests being sexually aroused in the confessional. Ten days later, he smeared his critics – specifically, without citing names, Michael Chapman on NewsBusters -- suggesting they didn’t care whether child-abusing priests were exposed, that keeping it quiet was okay. About halfway into the interview, Vieira steered into his mockery of priests:
After the network morning shows allowed Elizabeth Edwards to speak out against Ann Coulter, with limited challenge, host Bill O’Reilly discussed the subject with Ann Coulter and later Dick Morris on the June 28 edition of "The O’Reilly Factor." On two occasions, first with Ann Coulter then with Dick Morris, O’Reilly noted that he invited Elizabeth Edwards on "The Factor" to discuss personal attacks, not only on the right, but on the left as well. This is how the Fox News host described the situation first when interviewing Ann Coulter.
"Okay, now after that interview, and nobody knows this, we called Elizabeth Edwards. And we said, ‘you know we’re real interested in this personal attack stuff because we have a problem with that on the left. Would you come on, either sit, you know, on a set, or on the phone?’ ‘No.’ Now, I’m saying to myself, wait a minute, you call into a program that no one watches, alright. And you have a point, no one watches. She’s- nobody sees this. I’m giving you a forum where ten million people on radio and TV are going to see it and you say no."
Maybe this afternoon's oppressive heat and humidity on the Hardball Plaza in DC were getting to Chris Matthews. I'm not sure how else to explain his complaint, to the effect that it is wrong of the Roman Catholic Church to apply its rules to politicians as it does to other adherents.
His remark came in the course of a debate on religion on this afternoon's edition of "Hardball" between Christopher Hitchens, author of the atheist polemic "God Is Not Great", and the Reverend Al Sharpton.
HARDBALL HOST CHRIS MATTHEWS: Today you have the Roman Catholic church through its bishops challenging the rights of Catholic office-holders to take positions for abortion rights. They basically say you have to be for imprisonment of people involved with abortion or else you're not a Catholic and you'll be excommunicated. It seems to be an era, not just because of Islam, to keep religion out of politics . . . Why are they foisting themselves, why are the religious leaders jumping into the political marketplace and saying to politically-elected people, who are duly elected, "you cannot take that position and be in our church, or we will excommunicate you"? That seems to be what's going on.
On Tuesday's episode (6/19/07) of The View, Michael Moore advocated socialized medicine by saying that "Jesus told us that we would be judged by how we treat the least among us." (Video at Hot Air.)
The problem? For one, starting many years ago, Michael Moore has displayed behavior that many followers of Jesus would find offensive. Moore also reportedly has a dubious history in dealing with "the least" around him in his own life.
1. Back in high school, the rebellious Moore staged a play that openly mocked Jesus' Crucifixion. Read about it on Moore's own web site:
On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," the ABC program used an attack by an aide to presidential candidate Sam Brownback on fellow contender Mitt Romney to delve into the former Massachusetts governor’s religious beliefs and whether bigotry will derail his campaign.
Comparing the treatment of Romney’s religion to past campaigns, Dan Harris asserted that this sort of thing "happened for orthodox Jews when Joe Lieberman ran for vice president in 2000."
But unlike in 2000, when Joe Lieberman ran for vice president on a liberal Democratic ticket, Mitt Romney is running a social conservative. And thus, Harris alternated from wondering if "a resurgence of the type of bigotry the church has faced since it was founded 177 years ago" might torpedo Romney’s bid, to speculating on the "uncomfortable questions" about Mormon beliefs:
Writing at Beliefnet, Rod Dreher makes a good point (h/t Small Dead Animals) about how radical Muslims have learned how to manipulate the Western media's guilt complex:
The US media, by and large, gives the leadership of the Muslim community in America largely uncritical treatment, and accepts their duplicitous words at face value. In "Islam vs. Islamists," we meet a French Muslim filmmaker living under government protection after having not once but twice gone undercover to document Islamist radicalism in Europe, including the "double discourse" of Islamists saying one thing to a non-Muslim audience, and quite another when talking to Muslims. I've seen a related phenomenon in person on several occasions, in which Islamist leaders mouth soothing banalities about peace, love and tolerance, but get angry when you point out contradictions between their self-serving rhetoric and the reality of what they believe and advocate. Watching the film last night, I gasped at the grainy clip of several women being stoned to death -- aired after an Islamist imam in Canada said that adulterers should be stoned to death. I've heard the very same thing come out of the mouth of a Dallas lay Islamic leader, twice. He's a smart and accomplished man, and very smooth -- yet to his credit, I guess, he's not ashamed of the barbarity of what he believes. At least he's honest about it. Anyway, as Dr. Jasser points out, the American news media is so intimidated by CAIR and other Islamist and shadow-Islamist organizations that they serve as the Islamists' useful dupes -- making it that much more difficult for voices like Dr. [Zuhdi] Jasser's to be heard.
According to Coalition for Urban Renewal and Education's (CURE) website, community activist and conservative columnist Star Parker will guest co-host "The View" Tuesday, June 19. Parker will appear with the show's long time token non-liberal Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Parker's name is not on "The View's" website, but confirms Michael Moore and Toby Keith are two of the show's guests.
Star Parker is the current president of CURE and a former welfare mother. Parker converted to Christianity and began her life as an activist. Her recent columns included attacking Senator Clinton over her changing stances on Iraq and hailing the Supreme Court for upholding the federal partial birth abortion ban.
Mark Leibovich's front-page profile in Saturday's New York Times of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney painted the former Massachusetts governor as all style and little substance -- "Polished and Upbeat, Romney Struggles to Connect on Stump."
"Mitt Romney loves the word 'great.' As in, 'Have a great day,' 'Things are going great,' 'I’m feeling great.' Mr. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, also looks great, sounds great and smells great, like shaving cream. Everyone who asks him something gets a 'Thanks, great question.'"
"In a halting cadence, Mr. Faux (pronounced 'Fox') explained that his 26-year-old son, an Army National Guardsman, was about to leave for Iraq.
"'What is your plan to fix this problem?' Mr. Faux asked, his voice breaking slightly.
This may come as a surprise to many religious Americans in the country: PBS this month is broadcasting a documentary presenting both sides of the controversial issue of the “separation of church and state.”
As many of you know, this has been an ongoing debate for decades as to when this term first appeared, and what the Founding Fathers’ intent truly was concerning government involvement in organized religion.
The documentary’s goals are described thusly at the PBS website (emphasis added throughout):
News people often hedge on the accuracy of the existence of God, but National Public Radio showed an ease in declaring they were in the presence of a "goddess" (no quote marks for her) on Thursday's All Things Considered newscast. The "feminine divine" in question was 9-year-old Sajani Shakya. Anchor Michele Norris proclaimed "she is a goddess, or Kumari, venerated as a deity in the Kathmandu valley of Nepal," who was visiting Washington as part of the Silverdocs film festival. NPR reporter Neda Ulaby began:
ULABY: The goddess is, frankly, a little jet-lagged. But adorned with golden saffron robes and a ceremonial third eye painted on her forehead, she's the most majestic 9-year-old this classroom of American kids has ever met.
Clay Waters of Times Watch alerted me to a new item in the Shameless Hillary Department: Ben Smith at Politico.com reports Mother Teresa's missionaries have protested Hillary's use of a photograph of her waving next to Mother Teresa in a Hillary campaign video, in which the announcer said: "Hillary in effect, was the face of America, in Africa, in India..." The picture was used as the words "in India" were narrated. Will the rest of the media follow up on this story?
The head of a politically conservative Catholic group, Fidelis, said he brought the video to the attention of Sister Nirmala, Teresa's successor at the Superior General of the India-based Missionaries of Charity. Fidelis president Joseph Cella called it "wholly inappropriate, disrespectful and disturbing that Hillary Clinton shamelessly exploited Mother’s image as a political tool."
In a speech in New York, Harvard professor Jessica Stern reportedly told her audience, "Catholic priests are not stepping up to condemn those who kill abortion doctors." Her comments were reported in today's New York Sun (Fri. 6/15/07).
Well, Jessica. The reason that Catholic priests aren't "stepping up" is that there has been no reason to. There have been exactly ZERO murders of abortion doctors and clinic workers in the United States and Canada so far in the 21st century. The last murder was nine years ago in 1998. (Even the defenders of abortion recognize this. Look here.)
A judge Wednesday ordered Cardinal Roger M. Mahony to testify in a lawsuit alleging that he failed to protect parishioners from a pedophile teacher, but then granted the Los Angeles cleric's request for a trial delay.
For the Record Clergy abuse: An article in Thursday's California section about Cardinal Roger M. Mahony being ordered to testify in a lawsuit said the suit alleged that he failed to protect parishioners from Paul Kreutzer, a pedophile teacher. In fact, the suit accuses the Archdiocese of Los Angeles of failing to protect parishioners from abuse by Kreutzer between 1974 and 1976. Mahony did not become archbishop until September 1985 and is not named in the suit.
The funny thing about "news" magazine blogs is that there's not much difference in editorializing quotient between the magazine and the blog posts. "Anonymous" Joe Klein is a Time columnist, officially, but he has all the partisan tics that the other MSM political gurus have. In looking at the latest Hillary polls showing her solid support among downscale women, Klein argued on Time's Swampland blog:
I suspect that Hillary's showing among women has the most significance. Something has happened here. You see it on the campaign trail. A lot of previously skeptical women have decided that Clinton's Methodist rectitude is needed to clean up the mess the frat boy made in Washington.
It's always entertaining to hear Klein -- who lied his face off for many best-selling weeks about authoring his millionaire-minting Clinton roman a clef Primary Colors, even to his Newsweek bosses -- pronounce on rectitude.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is often touted and consulted by the media when the subject of Islam is broached. Superficially this makes sense--the comprehensive and high-minded name of the organization suggest a seriousness and universality of purpose and membership.
In fact, however, CAIR is no more representative of America's Muslims than the National Organization for Women is of America's female population. Rush Limbaugh brought to my attention an article that makes this point very clear by showing how many actual dues-paying members CAIR has: less than 1700:
Membership in the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has
declined more than 90 percent since the 2001 terrorist attacks,
according to tax documents obtained by The Washington Times.
An interesting discussion ensued on Tuesday’s “Scarborough Country” surrounding ABC’s “The View” and some of the anti-Catholic positions taken by the various co-hosts.
MSNBC general manager Dan Abrams, sitting in for Joe Scarborough, had Catholic League president Bill Donohue on to discuss his ad placed in Tuesday’s New York Times complaining about the behavior of folks like Rosie O’Donnell and Joy Behar while pointing a finger at Barbara Walters for allowing such antics on her program.
CNN hosted three presidential debates last week, two for the Democrats and one for the Republicans. Democratic candidates were awarded twice as much airtime in a three-day period. CNN has its work cut out for it if it wants to be seen as impartial in the upcoming presidential election.
What tilted the schedule in the Democrats’ favor? Both Sunday’s and Tuesday’s two-hour traditional debates in New Hampshire with each party were hosted by Wolf Blitzer. But on Monday, CNN devoted an hour to the top three Democrat contenders, hosted by the religious-left group Sojourners. Each received 15 minutes of air time. When that hour was over, CNN awarded most of the "second tier" – four more Democratic contenders – more time to discuss their faith in individual interviews on "Paula Zahn Now." That’s almost another two hours for the Democrats.