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."
It might seem a little jarring in the wake of the religion-bashing bloggers ruining the John Edwards campaign, but the February 18 New York Times Magazine actually contained an article claiming "In the piety primary, the Democrats win hands down." Writer Gary Rosen claimed Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are not hard to envision in church among the faithful, but John McCain and Rudy Giuliani would probably be "fidgeting during the hymns and checking their watches." This is not surprising New York Times content. But here's the surprising part: Rosen is the managing editor of the neoconservative journal Commentary. Here's how Rosen began:
Try a quick political thought experiment. First, form a mental picture of the Democratic front-runners for president — Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Now do the same for the leading Republican contenders — John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. Next (and this is the key step), imagine each of them in church, sitting in a pew, head bowed, or better still, at the pulpit, delivering a homily or leading the congregation in worship.
So if campaign staffers for a prominent presidential candidate make hateful and bigoted remarks about Christians that's big news right? Not according to NBC's Meredith Vieira. The Today show co-anchor failed to question John Edwards about his former bloggers Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan calling Christianity a "mythology" and depicting Bush supporters as his "wingnut Christofascist base." Instead Vieira focused her questions from the left on Iraq, as first noted here, and his opinion of the dust-up between rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The following are all of Vieira's questions to John Edwards on the February 22, Today show:
At first glance, one might question the relevance of religious opinions on the issue of anthropogenic global warming. However, given the cult-like fervor being exhibited on this subject by the media of late, maybe what the world needs is a little balance to add a modicum of sanity to the growing hysteria.
With that in mind, Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia, wrote on op-ed in the Sunday Telegraph last week cautioning readers about the zealotry being exhibited by those convinced that man is destroying the planet (emphasis mine throughout):
Realizing we don't yet know all the details, apparently the AP has decided to not put the story of a Muslim cab driver running down two students after a religious dispute over the wire. Why might that be? They can't all be writing about Anna Nicole Smith?
How can a movie studio get its film promoted on the front page of the Los Angeles Times for free? Easy. Make a film about an abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. Yesterday (Saturday, February 17, 2007), starting on the front page, the Times devoted a plenteous 1,526 words to an article by Gina Piccalo, "A pedophile priest, in his own words."
Although the Times presents it as a legitimate news article, it weakly disguises the fact that the article is simply a promotion piece for the film, Deliver Us From Evil. Check out the opening sentence from the article:
"Deliver Us From Evil," a documentary about pedophile priest Oliver O'Grady and his devastating California legacy, has earned its filmmaker multiple awards and an Oscar nomination.
Brent Bozell's culture column this week centers on those Hollywood sore thumbs called Walden Media, who have made family-friendly and faith-friendly films. Brent told me it was a "V-8 idea," a slap-your-forehead business proposition to serve an underserved market of religious families with children. The new Walden project is the movie "Amazing Grace," as Brent explained:
It is a sad reality: Very few adults, and virtually no child can recognize the name William Wilberforce, the man Abraham Lincoln claimed was known to “every school boy” in America in 1858. Then there’s this: “Amazing Grace” is the most recognizable hymn in the land – but how many people can tell you its origin? To the rescue comes Walden again, with the movie “Amazing Grace,” which tells the true, and beautiful story of William Wilberforce, the brilliant British orator and parliamentarian who fought relentlessly to ban the slave trade in Great Britain and who ultimately succeeded, against all odds, decades before the United States fought a bloody civil war to do the same.
When's the last time you saw an MSMer dispute a politician on the tenets of his own faith? It happened today on Good Morning America when George Stephanopoulos challenged Mitt Romney's depiction of a tenet of Mormonism.
Weekend GMA host Kate Snow noted to the "This Week" host that at a Mitt Romney event Friday someone called out to the candidate that he didn't "know the Lord." Snow asked George to what extent Romney's Mormonism might be a "big hurdle" for him.
Stephanopoulos: "Polls certainly show that it is. He faces a lot of skepticism from evangelical Christians. When I spoke with him, I asked him how Muslims might perceive the Mormon belief that Jesus will return to the United States and reign personally here for a thousand years."
GMA then rolled a clip of Romney saying the following: "Our belief is just like it says in the Bible, that the Messiah will come to Jerusalem, stand on the Mount of Olives, and the Mount of Olives will be a place where there's a great gathering, and so forth. It's the same as the other Christian tradition."
Stephanopoulos: "Actually, we checked in with a Mormon spokesman who said that's not exactly true. They believe the New Jerusalem is here in the United States, in Missouri, and that's where Jesus is going to come."
Neal Gabler called Media Research Center "liars" on this evening's Fox News Watch. The accusation against NewsBusters' parent organization came in the course of a discussion of media coverage of Mitt Romney's announcement of his presidential candidacy.