While the Innocence of Muslims is still being blamed for the riots and murders in the Middle East, the national news media has no problem running a speculative story that disrespects the teachings of the Christian faith. New "evidence" now suggests that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene after all, but the artifact in question dates back to the 4th century A.D.
This all began when Harvard historian Dr. Karen King received a tiny strip of papyrus from an anonymous collector. After translating the Coptic script thereon, she found two phrases, one which reads, "Jesus said to them my wife. Elsewhere on the paper it continues, "She will be able to be my disciple."
ABC and CBS News brought it up on Thursday evening, but could only afford to allot a few seconds of coverage. NBC Nightly News did not mention it at all. All three network morning news broadcasts devoted significant attention to the story, and predictably worked in references to Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code novel.
In the introduction to Wednesday's Good Morning America on ABC, Elizabeth Vargas teased the story as if it were one of the biggest of the day.
Real-life Da Vinci Code. Christianity's biggest mysteries about to be solved. The tiny scrap of paper that could prove Jesus had a wife. Why this faded fragment might solve an age-old question.
Amy Robach continued the coverage 10 minutes later, but Vargas followed up with more color commentary.
There's been for centuries debate whether Mary Magdalene was married to Jesus, because of the Gnostic Gospels. A whole set of gospels claim in fact that was true. It would've been very unusual for a man at that time, a Jewish man not to be married.
To his credit, Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos wondered if the scrap of papyrus was fake, but Robach and Vargas rushed to defend its validity.
NBC's Today Show reminded viewers of the upcoming story three times before co-host Savannah Guthrie had reporter Anne Thompson share the details. "Watch out for the lightning bolts that are sure to strike us," Thompson joked, insisting that the debate has been changed forever:
Now King says early Christians argued over whether it was better or not to marry and it wasn't until after a century of Jesus' death that he began to use his marital status to support their positions. You can bet this discovery will do the same today all around the country, and the world.
CBS This Morning oddly used the story as a plug for same-sex marriage when co-anchor Charlie Rose asked reporter Alan Pizzey what kind of questions will be raised as a result. He also said the discovery "challenges the very foundation of Christian thinking."
While there was some acknowledgment that the artifact's age doesn't prove anything, the major networks treated the story as if it deserved a considerable amount of attention.
The Catholic League's Bill Donahue responded by providing some context, something the networks forgot or just flat out ignored.
King is known for her fertile imagination. For example, she previously claimed that Mary Magdalene was one of the apostles. Even better, in the book in which she made this extraordinary claim, she “rejects his [Jesus’] suffering and death as the path to eternal life.” Not much left after that.
King has her share of critics, both among practicing Christians and secular scholars. Neglecting to mention that fact is a deplorable oversight by the networks.