ABC's Laura Marquez displayed last night how the media just don't get religion.
Introducing her story on a rift in the Episcopal Church as conservative parishes in Northern Virginia voted to leave the American branch of the Anglican Communion for greener theological pastures, Marquez blamed conservatives for troubling the church's still waters.
"Members of Virginia's Truro Church may have been singing the words "The Church's One Foundation," but the action they took today rocked that foundation to its core."
In other words, conservative, orthodox Episcopalians are the bad guys, prompting a "secession" as Marquez called it, from the Episcopal Church. But that just shows Marquez's confusion as to the church's true foundation.
The front page of Monday’s Washington Post is a topped with a local religion story, as seven Episcopal parishes voted to break with the Episcopal Church USA over the church’s tilt away from the Bible and toward a "progressive" future with gay bishops and gay "marriage" ceremonies. Reporters Michelle Boorstein and Bill Turque describe these dissidents as "conservative" four times in the story (and once in the headline), but there are no "liberals" in the piece, not gay Bishop Gene Robinson and not the top Presiding Bishop, Kathleen Jefferts Schori. In paragraph 17, the reporters do attribute talk of a "leftward drift" to a disgruntled parishioner.
(Perhaps most surprising is the picture: conservative opponents of homosexuality embracing after the decision to split away. Nearly every national newspaper story on gay issues is illustrated by gay plaintiffs, gay protesters, gay parents – and social conservatives go for years without being pictured.)
"Put down the candles and step slowly away from the menorah." Reading her pay-per-view New York Times column of today, that's what I felt like shouting at Jennifer Michael Hecht. Hecht manages to turn the Festival of Light into a celebration of the rejection of traditional Judaism - and an odd bow in the direction of colonialism and cultural imperialism.
Hanukkah celebrates "a revolution against assimilation and the suppression of Jewish religion." Syrian-Greeks had colonialized Israel, overturned the Temple, and turned Jews away from their religion. A small band of faithful Jews defeated the Greek army, drove them from the Israel, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of God.
According to Hecht, that was . . .a bad thing. In her view, "progressive, modern Jews" should actually consider the Syrian-Greeks the heroes of the story, and those who fought against them to restore traditional Judaism the villians.
The MRC's new Culture and Media Institute has already drawn national press attention by making a Christmas list -- not your everyday Christmas list, mind you, but a list of who's been naughty in denying Christmas in the public square, and who's nice in upholding traditions. The list of "Santa's Helpers" and "Grinches" is here. CMI's Kristen Fyfe explained:
It seems almost ridiculous that acknowledging Christmas should be controversial. In a country where 96% of the citizens celebrate it, why do so many feel like Christmas is under attack? An online poll done by the Chicago Tribune last week showed that 68% of respondents think there is a war on Christmas. Why?
If political reporters think their job is to lay out the facts, then why would anyone try to claim Nancy Pelosi is not a liberal? In Tuesday's Baltimore Sun, reporter Matthew Hay Brown is the latest Pelosi profiler to suggest liberal is just a "brand" Republicans have tried to burn on her. He began: "As she introduces herself next month to a national audience, incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be stressing her roots in working-class, Catholic Baltimore as a way of recasting the liberal image with which Republicans have tried to brand her." Brown extensively used liberal professor Kathleen Hall Jamieson, often used by network reporters over the years to debunk political ads, to attempt to make plausible the bunk that Pelosi is firmly in the mainstream because, forget the voting record, she's a Catholic grandmother. In 19 years in the House, Pelosi has a lifetime American Conservative Union rating of three out of 100.
You can lead the Boston Globe to the facts about immigration, but you can't make it think. The focus of the Globe's editorial of today, African-Americans need apply, is "the disappearing African-American hotel worker." Precise figures for the Boston hotel industry aren't available but the Globe notes that in Los Angeles, African-Americans "comprise only about 6 percent of workers in downtown hotels."
The Globe acknowledges that "new immigrant populations . . . have been replacing African-Americans in hotel service jobs for about a decade." So you'd think that perhaps the Globe would take the next logical step and call for a clampdown on immigration, particularly illegal immigration.
Mary Cheney’s announcement of her pregnancy and upcoming lesbian parenthood has inspired national-media stories playing up "furious" conservatives in the Vice President’s Republican base, even as activists on the gay left use the news to lobby against defense-of-marriage policies in Virginia and other states.
CNN’s "Paula Zahn Now" took up the permissive cause on Thursday night with a supportive news story by Mary Snow on how Virginia is "unfriendly" to gay rights, followed by an imbalanced panel discussion in which one liberal insisted homosexuals had to fight for their cause or "You're going to get dragged behind a truck otherwise." MRC’s Robert Knight, featured in the Snow report, told me that CNN didn’t use his remarks that "every birth is a blessing," or that loving fathers are important. Why? Because it wouldn’t match the "furious" conservative template? Paula Zahn started with the conservative fury, right from the beginning:
Regular viewers of Fox News’ “Hannity & Colmes” know that the two hosts rarely agree on anything, and that when they do, their guests better watch out, because they’re going to be blasted from both sides. Such was the case Tuesday evening when H&C invited the Reverend Paul Scott of the Messianic Afrikan Nation to discuss his bizarre views about race and Christmas (video available here courtesy of our friend at Ms Underestimated). Colmes began, “So, you have a beef with Christmas this year, or every year?” The Reverend replied:
Well, the problem that we have is with traditional Eurocentric Christmas, the lily white Christmas. Christmas is the whitest time of year. And in a situation and a climate when black men are being shot by police officers, black -- elderly black grandmothers are being shot by police officers, black men are being forced to dance their way out of traffic tickets, white comedians feel that they can make jokes about black men.
Colmes accurately inquired: “That has nothing to do with Christmas, though, as you well know. Do you think most people look at Christmas through the lens of race?” The Reverend amazingly answered: “I think that racism is so prevalent in our society you can't separate anything from race.” He said that. He really did. And that’s when the fun started:
It is amusing to me that the South was always considered by Democrats as "the people", the salt of the Earth, and the so-called rank and file in the "solid South" when the they had a lock on their votes from 1820 all the way until 1980. The South was the all-American region and the Democrats loved them dearly. Yes, for over 160 years the Democrats counted the Southern states as stalwarts and they loved them like brothers. But, now that the Southern states more often vote GOP they are a "problem" and are filled with Bible- brainwashed racists who pine for a return to slavery as far as the left is concerned.
CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, is well known for bashing those who bash Islam or those who associate it with terrorism. Now they are attacking conservative columnist and radio talker Dennis Prager. Reports the AP:
An Islamic civil rights group wants a columnist removed from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council for criticizing Rep.-elect Keith Ellison's decision to use the Quran during his ceremonial swearing-in next month.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations said Monday that comments by Dennis Prager, a columnist and conservative talk radio host, displayed an intolerance toward Islam that makes him inappropriate to serve on the council, which oversees the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.
Channel 4, a TV station seen all across England, has decided to embrace the country's coming Islamification. Reports the Daily Mail:
Channel 4 is to reignite controversy over the wearing of the veil - by featuring a Muslim woman in full niqab giving the broadcaster's alternative Christmas message.
The woman, today named only as Khadija and said to be a lecturer in Islamic studies, will go head-to-head with the Queen when she gives her annual speech to the nation on 25 December.
Producers are said to have "discovered" her after a month-long search for a suitable candidate.
A spokesman for the channel added: "We felt it fitting that Channel 4's alternative Christmas message should be given by a Muslim woman in a year when issues of religious and racial identity and freedom of expression have dominated the news agenda.
The Washington Post's Michelle Boorstein penned a front page story on two Northern Virginia Episcopal parishes preparing to vote on whether to formally sever ties with the denomination and to submit to the authority of a more conservative Nigerian Anglican bishop.
Boorstein gets off to a biased start by labeling said Nigerian bishop as "controversial." No such label was assigned Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefforts-Schori, although her theology is far from congruent with historic, orthodox Christianity.
What's more, one of Boorstein's sources, Diana Butler Bass, was presented merely as "a U.S. church historian."
"What will win now? This politicized culture, or that old Anglican, spiritual way of being in the world," Bass told Boorstein, practically casting biblically orthodox Episcopals as rabble rousing radicals within the denomination.
In the midst of an otherwise positive story Monday night about the “revival” of religiously-inspired movies, such as The Nativity Story and Facing the Giants, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric saw a dark side. She pressed Catherine Hardwicke, director of The Nativity Story and Mike Rich, the film's screenwriter: "Do you worry at all that non-believers may feel excluded and diminished at a time when we're so divided about so much?" As if there's a dearth of non-spiritual films for people to see. Has anyone at CBS News ever worried about how the faithful feel “excluded” and “diminished” by multiplexes playing only violent and sexually-explicit films, to say nothing of the many which include scenes ridiculing the faithful or portraying religious figures as criminals?
The CBSNews.com online version of the story has this text in place of Couric's question: “But what if you don't believe? That was Chicago Mayor Richard Daly's concern last week when he banned ads for The Nativity Story from the city's annual Christmas festival.” A “Christmas” festival without the very story on which it is based!
National Public Radio oozes liberalism in nearly everything it does, especially when it starts tickling itself, like insisting Cheney lives in Rove's butt on its game shows. NPR's website advertises its "First Ever Holiday Craft Contest." Listeners are invited to design either a handmade menorah or a Christmas tree ornament. "We are looking for designs that reflect the news of 2006. We also welcome quirky, funny and/or offbeat designs. (See examples to the left.)" That would include a Christmas ornament with Scientology baby Suri Cruise, and some Mel Gibson mockery:
Sample Entry: Mel Gibson Mel-norah. This menorah works on two levels: It symbolizes a willingness to accept Gibson's apology for his anti-Semitic rant but also, for skeptics, offers the chance to watch hot wax drip down his punim (the Yiddish word for face). Materials: Mel Gibson cutouts and menorah.
How do you know when you've gone overboard with political correctness? When even the liberal panelists of Fox News Watch chide you for it. Host Eric Burns normally stays above the fray. But for some reason, on this evening's show he chose to criticize US Airways for removing from one of its flights six imams whose actions had made other passengers uneasy.
Said Burns, introducing the segment: "There were two stories in the news this week about religion. First, Pope Benedict in Turkey tried to encourage tolerance between Catholics and Muslims. Second, a story of tolerance of U.S. Airways and Muslims - there wasn't any - as six Muslim religious leaders, or imams, were recently yanked off a US Airways flight for no apparent reason other than that a passenger thought they were behaving strangely. Jane, I wonder if the moral of these two stories is first that the media are not at all captivated by this Pope . . but they are captivated by stories that seem to show that anti-terrorist policies sometimes go too far."
It would be political malpractice for Democrats to hand the microphone for their weekly radio address to someone whose remarks didn't advance the interests of their party. And sure enough, the transcript of left-wing preacher Jim Wallis's talk of today reveals nothing that wouldn't comfortably fit in the mouth of Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi.
Wallis might coyly call himself "non-partisan," but does that oblige the CNN-AP to follow suit? Yet in its story on Wallis's address, AP-CNN referred to Wallis as "non-partisan" and tried to bolster that view of him by adding that "the religious leader has been openly critical of Democratic politicians." Perhaps as a matter of the Dems' overly-partisan form. But as a matter of substance, Wallis's views are indistinguishable from those of the liberal mainstream of the Democratic party.
Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony certainly deserves his rightful share of criticism and rebuke for his handling of the church abuse scandal. However, a front-page headline in today's Los Angeles Times (Saturday, December 2, 2006) delivers an unfair and misleading impression over supposed "inaction" by the Cardinal.
Yesterday the Los Angeles Archdiocese announced it will pay a $60 million settlement to 45 people who say they were abused by Catholic priests. Today's Times reported the news with five articles, five photos, and 5078 words. (Two articles are on the front page: one is the major headline at the top of the page, and another is at the fold. The five articles I've counted also include a 'Q&A' piece and a Church-bashing commentary by staffer Steve Lopez.)
A November 30, 2006, article by Los Angeles Times staff writer Seema Mehta is entitled, "Evangelical pastor, Obama join forces to battle AIDS." In an unflattering passage on evangelicals, Mehta forwards the claim, "They [evangelical Christians] remain one of the religious groups slowest to respond to the pandemic [AIDS]."
Mehta's claim simply isn't true. What is one way that we know this? Mehta's own newspaper editors directly debunk her on the very same day as her article!
In a Friday night story on criticism of Pastor Rick Warren, for inviting Democratic Senator Barack Obama to the evangelist's annual “Global Summit on AIDS and the Church” held at the Saddleback Church in Orange County, California, ABC's Jake Tapper relayed how “many conservative Christian leaders...were furious with Warren for inviting Obama. Why? Because the Senator supports abortion rights.” But on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, though anchored by Brian Wilson, reporter Anita Vogel added an extremist label: "Evangelist Rick Warren, famous for his best-seller A Purpose Driven Life, has taken a lot of heat from Christian conservatives and the far right for even inviting Obama to this conference because of the Democratic Senator's support for abortion rights. Pastor Warren says that kind of thinking won't solve anything."
I'm confused. Doesn't the MSM abhor the mixing of religion and politics? Isn't it quick to invoke the specter of theocracy and decry the crumbling of the [non-existent] "constitutional separation of church and state"? Well, yes, in general. But there is an exception to the MSM rule. Turns out it's OK to mix religion and politics, when it's Dems in general - and Barack Obama in particular - who are making the merger.
On this afternoon's Hardball, guest host David Shuster played a clip of Obama, in church, explictly calling for his Christian religious faith to "guide us to a new and better politics."
Asked Shuster of CNBC chief political correspondent John Harwood: "Your reaction - mixing religion and politics in that way?"
Harwood: "It's smart. Democrats need to do more of that."
As the movie "The Nativity Story" premieres nationwide today, one underreported story is the city of Chicago choking on a promotion for the movie at its annual Christmas festival. That sounds sort of funny, trying to ban the Christ from the Christmas event, especially when Chicago (government and media outlets alike) so aggressively welcomed the Gay Games this summer. The Chicago story hasn't emerged yet on ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, The Washington Post, The New York Times, or USA Today. (Exceptions are Fox's John Gibson and Glenn Beck on CNN Headline News.) Robert Knight of the MRC's Culture and Media Institute offered his view over at Human Events:
The Christkindl, or Christmas Fairy, is welcome at a Christmas festival in Chicago. So is Santa Claus. But a film about the birth of Jesus has provoked city officials to lower the boom.
Chicago officials deny actually ordering Christkindlmarket officials to cancel an exhibit of “The Nativity Story.” They just sort of asked them to dump it, kind of the way Da Bears ask an opposing runner to gently drop to the turf. Dose Bears would be embarrassed, however, by the sheer cowardice and political correctness on display this week in Chicago’s Daley Plaza.
Has it at long last begun to occur that John F. Kennedy is fading from the perennial lists of historian's picks of the "top most influential" historical Americans? If this latest survey of Historians is any indication, it just may be.
And it is about time, too… unless you are a hero worshipping journalist like Peter S. Canellos of the Boston Globe who is calling foul in his piece this morning titled, In pantheon, whither JFK?.
The Atlantic Monthly asked 10 eminent historians to rank the 100 most influential Americans of all time, and Kennedy did not make the cut. Worse, he was named on only two ballots.
Only TWO. Gosh, this is a calamity.
Canellos goes on to reveal others on the list, a list that includes the presidents before and after JFK, and informs us why these historians didn't put JFK on the list and why the two who did, did so.
Sunday's Washington Post Magazine carried a story on how Democrats can close the "God gap" in national politics, or more precisely, it publicized the man trying to close that gap for liberals. It's titled "The Gospel According to Jim Wallis." The subtitle is meant to be amusing: "For Democrats to win back the White House, they may well have to rely on the power of the Almighty. And it's not Bill Clinton." On the opposite page is an illustration of a Christ-like figure pulling open his vestments to reveal a red-white-and-blue Democratic donkey.
The most outrageous part of David Paul Kuhn's article comes right at the beginning, as Wallis presents himself as the defender of the Bible against all those conservative Christians who want to scissor its integrity to bits:
We lead fairly schizophrenic lives during the Christmas season in America. Our popular holiday rituals are bifurcated between the sacred and the secular; between the very worldly commercial extravaganza of Christmas as offered by our department stores – when they have the guts to employ the word “Christmas” – and Christianity celebrating the birth of Our Lord.
Hollywood hasn’t been so split on this question. It is firmly ensconced, and comfortable, in the secular world. Year after year, it offers commercial Christmas movies this time of year, with Grinches and Rudolphs, good Santas and Bad Santas, the Kranks and the Muppets. We’ve been Scrooged, been on Christmas Vacation, and taken rides on the Polar Express. We’ve seen the Christmas-as-a-backdrop movies like “Home Alone,” which, like so many others, might offer something about the Christmas “spirit” but wouldn’t dare to touch the Birth of Christ itself.
William Donohue of the Catholic League suggests that some celebrities get left out of the unforgivable-slur category -- when the targets are Catholics, even Mother Teresa. Take Penn Jillette, the loud, tall half of the magician duo of Penn & Teller, who now not only has a Showtime series called "B.S." but a nationally syndicated talk-radio show:
"Michael Richards gets interrupted by hecklers, unleashes a racist tirade, gets blasted by the cultural elite and apologizes. Mel Gibson gets drunk, unleashes an anti-Semitic tirade, gets blasted by the cultural elite and apologizes. Penn Jillette, without any provocation, unleashes an anti-Catholic tirade, gets a free pass from the cultural elite and never apologizes.
Tuesday’s Post carried a strangely typical story on polygamy today in the bottom right-hand corner of the front page. The headline was "Polygamists Fight to Be Seen As Part of Mainstream Society." Reporter John Pomfret’s story did not offer both sides of the polygamy debate. It aired quite a bit of assertion from polygamy practitioners in Utah, matched only by local law enforcement officials that have largely accepted the practice, prosecuting only crimes around the edges, like sex with child brides. The story features no outraged feminists at the patriarchy in these relationships. There are no religious authorities or academics to take exception to it, or even non-religious critics like Stanley Kurtz of National Review Online. In short, it’s a thinly disguised testimonial packet.
Compare this article to the front-page story Alan Cooperman and Peter Whoriskey wrote last week on the churches maintaining their teachings on homosexuality as a sin, headlined "3 Christian Groups Move to Condemn Gay Sex." That story was much more balanced, with religious traditionalists debating advocates of a Jesus of "radical hospitality" toward gays. Pomfret seems devoted to chronicling the inevitable acceptance of this new trend encroaching on traditional monogamous matrimony:
Also interesting to see is Katie Couric on last night's "CBS Evening News" where a audio glitch made the show end about two minutes sooner than it should've, forcing Couric to stand awkwardly on the set.
With the recent racial slur outburst from "Seinfeld" actor, Michael Richards, we will have to pay close attention to see if Richards gets a softer treatment than Mel Gibson did with his own racial slur laden rant earlier in the year.
But, if this AP report is any indication, it seems sure that "Kramer" won't be as maligned as Mel Gibson.
NBC's Today carried a series on faith this week, and finished it Thursday morning with two liberal journalists about a new website Newsweek is setting up on faith. It all sounded very much like soft-soap Episcopalianism, no doubt because the preacher on the set was Newsweek editor and Episcopalian Jon Meacham, along with Sally Quinn, a writer best known as the wife of former top Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee. Ann Curry began by saying Meacham and Quinn "started a conversation about religion over lunch one day, and that discussion hasn't stopped." Curry continued:
"It's so interesting to think about how, just, what, 20 years ago, we would not speak about faith in America in any sort of big way. We talked about basically the separation of church and state meant that we didn't speak about church because we felt it was going to inflame and cause problems. What has changed? What has changed fundamentally about America that now lets us talk so much about it? In fact, have it influence policy in America. Sally."