Fox News Reporter And His Publisher In Bogus Book Marketing Scheme?

When it comes to making up fake stories in order to advance a partisan, right-wing agenda, nobody does it quite as well or as often as Fox News. Generally it involves deceptively spinning some event or purposefully mischaracterizing the comments of a Democrat. But frequently they will manufacture a phony story from scratch, and that may be what happened with this one by Fox News reporter Todd Starnes.

Fox News - Todd Starnes

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Starnes is perhaps the Fox figure who is most fixated on the perceived persecution of Christians in America. He has produced story after story on the same subject with alleged examples of innocent believers being harassed, oppressed, or maligned. However, many of his yarns turn out to be fables that are proven to be false when examined in full.

This week Starnes reported on a five year old girl whose father claims she was prohibited from praying in her school’s cafeteria. No one else can corroborate the charge. The school administration investigated and found no evidence to back up the claim. And there is no policy at the school that would prohibit a student from praying at lunchtime. This how Starnes began his story:

“A Florida school district is giving teachers a refresher course on religious liberty after the parents of a five-year-old kindergarten student said a teacher told their daughter that she was not allowed to pray before eating her lunch time meal.

“Marcos Perez, of Oviedo, Fla., said the incident occurred earlier this month in the lunch room at Carillon Elementary School.”

However, Starnes left out a pretty significant bit of information regarding his personal relationship with the family in the story. The Orlando Sentinel reported that Marcos Perez, the father of the girl, is also the Vice-President of Sales for Charisma House, a Christian book publisher that just happens to be publishing Starnes’ own book about – guess what – discrimination against Christians: “God Less America: Real Stories From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values.” That is a fact that Starnes failed to disclose in his story. [Note: After this association was revealed by the Sentinel, Starnes edited his column to add his relationship with the girl's father] It can hardly be seen as an inadvertent omission when Starnes’ story includes quotes from a man he surely knows without revealing that fact.

So to recap: Starnes has a book coming out soon that describes alleged episodes of discrimination against hapless Christians. A Christian schoolgirl is allegedly forbidden from praying in a story that could have come right out of Starnes’ book. And the beleaguered child is the daughter of the man responsible for selling the book and coming up with attention-getting marketing schemes. But I’m sure it is all just a harmless coincidence.

This is How Hobby Lobby Practices Their Allegedly ‘Christian’ Values

This week the Supreme Court heard a case brought by the arts and crafts retailer Hobby Lobby. The company seeks an exemption from the mandate in the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) that requires employers to offer insurance plans that include coverage for contraceptives. The basis for their request is that they are a “Christian” enterprise and that they believe that certain methods of contraception are de facto abortion.

The problem with their legal argument is that science does not regard contraception as abortion, so the belief of the company’s owners is factually false. What’s more, they are asserting that a corporation can have a religious affiliation just like a person. That’s a strained proposition unless you believe that a corporation also has a soul, is capable of sin, and is subject to divine judgement. Do good corporations go to Heaven?

However, even if we were to accept their assertion of a religious objection to the mandate, Hobby Lobby can cannot seriously claim to have a spiritual conflict with the law as regards contraception, or even abortion. That’s because, despite the company’s owner saying that “Being Christians, we don’t pay for drugs that might cause abortions,” their business does engage in practices that violate their professed beliefs.

Hobby Lobby

Hobby Lobby pays millions of dollars to stock their shelves with cheap products made in China, a country where abortion is legal and is even provided by the government for free – when they aren’t forcing it on women who want their babies. It is impossible to accept that the company is unconditionally opposed to a voluntary form of preventive health care that obviates the need for an abortion, while supporting a system that encourages abortion outright. If Hobby Lobby can do business with China when the profit motive compels them to, they cannot simultaneously pretend that an American woman having access to an insurance policy that includes coverage for contraception is some sort of abomination against their Lord.

Hobby Lobby’s hypocrisy, of course, is not the only reason they should lose this case. It would be frightening if the Supreme Court ruled that a corporation can have a religious belief. That would set the stage for any business to discriminate against employees for anything from race or sexual orientation to facial hair or consumption of pork. It would enable some companies to seek an exemption to ObamaCare if they believe that only faith healing is in accordance with their religion.

For Republicans, and their PR division, Fox News, to cheer on the Hobby Lobby case represents a severe departure from their professed principles. While they falsely allege that ObamaCare allows the government to come between the patient and the doctor (in fact, the government is merely attempting to prevent insurance companies from doing so), they are embracing a ruling that would give that power to every corporation.

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Permitting businesses to dictate what sort of health care their employees can have is not an expression of the individual liberties that conservatives pretend to favor. And it’s even more offensive when corporate high priests impose their religious beliefs on the people who work for them. Especially when those beliefs are discarded in order to increase profits.

The Anti-Pope: Rush Limbaugh Pimps For The Money Lenders Lobby

Poor Jesus. After going to all the trouble of throwing the Money Lenders out of the temple, now he has to deal with cretins like Rush Limbaugh who think that the church founded in his name is beholden to secular profiteers and godless corporations.

Rush Limbaugh

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How else could Limbaugh explain his opinion that the Catholic church would be lost “If it weren’t for capitalism?” It is astonishing that the people who most aggressively impose their religious beliefs on others, who demand that the whole of society celebrate their holidays and insist that their values be codified into law and school curriculum, these people seem to have the shallowest grasp of the faith they profess. And Limbaugh is not alone in his Adoration of Greed. A few years ago Bill O’Reilly said on his Fox News program that…

“Every company in America should be on its knees thanking Jesus for being born. Without Christmas, most American businesses would be far less profitable.”

O’Reilly actually believes that this country should be grateful that Jesus came along because the holiday commemorating his birth is such a boon to businesses. Now that’s the Christmas Spirit, isn’t it.

Limbaugh’s tirade was sparked by a recent paper authored by Pope Francis that articulated a version of Christianity wherein a moral society cared for the least of its citizens. He explicitly repudiated Republican values like “trickle-down economics” and preached that economic “inequality is the root of social ills.” That is the sort of talk that unhinges right-wingers whose greatest fear is to be lumped in with the unclean masses who, ironically, are the producers and consumers of the goods their businesses peddle.

All of this comports with the Christian hypocrite dogma spewed by political hacks who are only trying to exploit people who follow Christ’s teachings. These pundi-vangelists couldn’t care less about faith or service. However, the Republican Party shares something in common with the worst aspects of the Christian church. They are both trying to sell stories on faith to ill-informed people who are motivated by fear. But these religious scam artists are only concerned with their own welfare. They have no real compassion or generosity. Their tunnel-blind self-interest is a stark affirmation of the wisdom of the revered Catholic Dom Helder Camara, Archbishop of Recife, who said…

“When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.”

Fox Nation vs. Reality: The U.S. Closes Imaginary Vatican City Embassy

In it’s ongoing struggle to find evermore outrageous atrocities to attribute to President Obama, Fox Nation has reported that Catholic groups are appalled that the United States is planning to close its embassy in Vatican City. There is just one little problem.

Fox Nation

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The United States does not have an embassy in Vatican City. Nor does any other country. The Vatican is simply too small to host any of these facilities, so they are actually headquartered in Rome. The truth of the matter is that the U.S. is closing one of its offices in Rome that houses the ambassador to the Vatican, and relocating it to a much larger compound that also houses the U.S. embassy to Italy. It will continue to have its own building and entrance, and its even a little closer to the Vatican itself.

This hasn’t stopped the right-wing media circus from hyperventilating furiously about some sort of imagined insult to Catholics. The Fox Nationalists, quoting from the “Moonie” Washington Times, which was quoting from Breitbart “made up” News, said that “The Obama administration, in what’s been called an egregious slap in the face to the Vatican, has moved to shut down the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See.” That actually goes even further into false territory because it doesn’t simply suggest a relocation, but an elimination, neither of which are true.

It is curious that this particular crockery should erupt in the days following a rather remarkable publication from the Pope that condemns unfettered capitalism as abusive to the poor and other excluded members of society that the church is duty bound to protect. The Pope even went so far as to repudiate the conservative gospel of “trickle-down economics” as a theory that “has never been confirmed by the facts.”

Could it be that the Pope’s unambiguous support for income equality and the moral principle that “all citizens have dignified work, education and healthcare,” has prompted the conservative fib factory to invent a new controversy as a distraction from a papal declaration that eviscerates conservative values?

Pope Francis: Economic Inequality “Is The Root Of Social Ills”

A couple of months ago, Pope Francis stunned many of his right-wing leaning flock when he came out strongly opposed to the economic inequality that has fractured many nations, including the Untied States. His admonition that “The world has become an idolator of this god called money,” could not have been a clearer denunciation of the chasm that separates the wealthy minority from the other 99% of society. Well, he’s done it again.

Pope Francis

In an official Vatican “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel), The Pope went into even more detail about the greater harm of the greed and power associated with world markets and unfettered capitalism. I’ll let him tell it:

“Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.”

“Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded.”

“In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.”

“While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation.”

“In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market.”

“As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills.”

“The economy can no longer turn to remedies that are a new poison, such as attempting to increase profits by reducing the work force and thereby adding to the ranks of the excluded.”

“Politics, though often denigrated, remains a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity, inasmuch as it seeks the common good. [...] I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor!. It is vital that government leaders and financial leaders take heed and broaden their horizons, working to ensure that all citizens have dignified work, education and healthcare.”

As I have noted in the past, Fox News is the closest thing in U.S. media to a Vatican PR office, with a roster that is heavily weighted with Roman-Catholics. They include: Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Megyn Kelly, Bret Baier, Bill Hemmer, Brian Kilmeade, Andrew Napolitano, Jeanine Pirro, Laura Ingraham, Dennis Kucinich, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and Father Morris. Rupert Murdoch, the CEO of Fox News parent News Corp was himself inducted into the “Knights of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great” by Pope John Paul II. And if that isn’t enough, the current Senior Communications Adviser in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, Greg Burke, was previously the Fox News correspondent covering the Vatican, a position he held for ten years.

Pray for Fox News

It is interesting to note how divergent these parishioners are from the philosophy of their spiritual leader, but it isn’t new. In February of 2012, Juan Cole compiled a list of doctrinal variances between the church and the conservative hypocrites. In March of 2010, Glenn Beck outright begged his disciples to “run as fast as you can” from any church that uses the words “social justice” or “economic justice.” In other words, renounce any parish that practices the teachings of Jesus.

A few weeks ago Sarah Palin said the nastiest thing she could think of about Pope Francis. She called him a liberal. A couple of days later she had second thoughts and apologized to the Pontiff, who probably couldn’t have cared less. I wonder if she is rethinking her apology now.

Faux Miracle From Fox News: Christian Brain Defect Saves Muslim Man?

Over the years Fox News has been properly criticized for its brazen political partisanship, rabid anti-Obama crusading, and support for a far-right, corporate-friendly, Tea Party agenda, but less has been mentioned about their religious bias for Christianity and open proselytizing.

Fox NewsSure, we all remember the annual “War on Christmas” campaigns and the efforts to discriminate against Muslims who have the effrontery to want to build mosques so that they can practice their religion as the Constitution guarantees. But little notice has been paid to the increasingly televangelical tone of Fox’s programming. More and more, Fox broadcasts stories whose only purpose is to shore up faith in Christianity.

While Fox rarely reports on religious discrimination against other faiths, they have a hyper sensitivity to what they regard as slights to Christians. Host Todd Starnes seems to produce daily pieces about some imaginary suppression of the rights of Christian soldiers, which is usually just an example of them being required to be tolerant of non-Christians and gay Americans. Gretchen Carlson launched her new program by noting that she will feature stories that favor her faith. And Christian leaders like the Pope are a staple of Fox’s schedule, except when he advocates for the poor.

But an article on the Fox News web site takes real leaps of faith in promoting what they characterize as a miraculous conversion from a pagan Islamic belief to glorious Christianity. The headline preaches “Muslim man becomes Christian after recovering from brain aneurysm.” The story is one of hope for the salvation of infidels who suffer from not knowing Jesus. Of course, Fox never considers the possibility that having a serious brain defect might lead to delusional thoughts and behavior.

However, a more egregious deceit in the story is revealed as it unfolds. Rather than being a tale of a man who is transformed instantly into a beacon of faith due to a life-threatening illness, the conversion actually took more than twenty years to take effect. It began with questions about why he survived after waking from a month-long coma induced by the aneurysm.

“That question started Shamsi-Basha on a 20-year journey that he says led him to Jesus Christ. He began reading the Bible and was baptized in 1996, but he says it took another 10 years of challenges — including a divorce, his father’s death and becoming homeless — before he fully accepted becoming a Christian.”

So contrary to Fox’s portrayal of this incident as a miracle enacted by the waving of a magic wand over some poor soul, it is actually a story that has almost nothing to do with the illness from two decades prior, and more the result of relentless and prolonged hardship that is often the inspiration for people to grasp onto the notion of a higher power in their desperation for relief and peace of mind.

Regardless of what one chooses to believe about this man’s experience and spiritual conversion, it is pathetic (though typical) that Fox decided to exploit the story and present it in such a deliberately misleading fashion. It is further evidence that Fox is more interested in acting as missionaries than as journalists. And since the subject of this article has also written a book about his journey, Fox also gets an opportunity to practice its other religion: the holy sacrament of commerce.

Where Are The Fox News Catholics Now That The Pope Has Endorsed Income Equality?

Pope Francis has been breaking some stereotypes recently with commentaries that convey his infallible opinion that it isn’t the Vatican’s role to cast judgement on gays (“If a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge”), or become fixated on abortion or marriage equality (“it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”). He even said that non-Christians may be welcomed into Heaven. Now the Pope has extended his reach into a more accepting and progressive practice of faith by embracing the notion of equality with regard to economics.

Pope Francis
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“The world has become an idolator of this god called money. [...] It is the consequence of a world choice, of an economic system that has at its centre an idol which is called money. [...] To defend this economic culture, a throwaway culture has been installed. We throw away grandparents, and we throw away young people. We have to say no to this throwaway culture. We want a just system that helps everyone.”

American conservatives have long wallowed in their self-righteous exploitation of what they deemed to be Catholic doctrine. They have attempted to apply their feigned moral superiority to political opponents, even calling for Catholic churches to deny communion to people like Nancy Pelosi and John Kerry. These views are commonly expressed on Fox News where their resident Catholic correspondent, Father Jonathan Morris, went so far as to denounce an entire faction of Americans simply because they voted for President Obama, saying “If anybody voted for Barack Obama because he is pro-abortion, that would certainly be an objective moral wrong.”

Fox News is the closest thing in media to a Vatican PR office, with a roster that is heavily weighted with Roman-Catholics. They include: Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Megyn Kelly, Bret Baier, Bill Hemmer, Brian Kilmeade, Andrew Napolitano, Jeanine Pirro, Laura Ingraham, Dennis Kucinich, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and Father Morris. Rupert Murdoch, the CEO of Fox News parent News Corp was himself inducted into the “Knights of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great” by Pope John Paul II. And if that isn’t enough, the current Senior Communications Adviser in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, Greg Burke, was previously the Fox News correspondent covering the Vatican, a position he held for ten years.

The Catholic-centric dominance of Fox’s programming surely contributes to the network’s bias with regard to issues concerning abortion, gay rights and marriage equality. The Fox ministry even attaches Catholic dogma to peripheral matters like military service and ObamaCare. No wonder they wage a “War on Christmas” at the end of every year.

However, despite their pious adherence to alleged church doctrine when issues important to conservatives are raised, they blindly stumble past any criticism of Catholic politicians or pundits who stray from the path on matters like war and capital punishment, which the church vehemently opposes.

Now the message from the Pope is one that calls for turning away from rank profiteering and instead attending to the needs of the poor and those struggling to provide for their families; the elderly who have given their lives to build this nation and are now being abandoned by right-wingers who want to cut Social Security and Medicare; the young who, through no fault of their own, are suffering and hungrey and being denied decent housing and education. In other words, the Pope is standing up for the 99% who have done the most to make America what it is, but who are being trampled by an upper-crusty class of elitists, politicians, and gullible Teabaggers.

Pray for Fox NewsFor years Fox News has made it’s opinions known on following the teachings of the Catholic church that so dominates their ranks. Now will they continue to do so when their spiritual leader demands that they focus their efforts on behalf of the American people who need help the most, rather than the billionaires who won’t ease their greedy grasp on a few of their beloved dollars so that children won’t starve or their parents won’t be denied life-saving medical care?

Will the Pope’s admonition that it is not necessary to talk about abortion and Marriage equality all the time be heeded so that people do not become victims of the “throwaway culture?” Or will Fox persist in demonizing the poor as lazy moochers who are a burden to society? I’ll give you one guess.

Fox News Presents: Islamophobia On Parade

For years Fox News has been the central clearinghouse for bigoted attacks on the Islamic faith. They have featured anchors and guests who assert that all Muslims are terrorists. They openly oppose freedom of religion when it is Muslims who are seeking it (remember the Ground Zero Mosque?). They virulently assault any person or group who advocates tolerance and cooperation with peaceful Islamic representatives, including American citizens. And this week they demonstrated their repugnant hatred once again.

On Friday, Sean Hannity converted his Fox News program into a liberal bashing festival of hate and deceit. He assembled a studio panel heavily weighted to conservative extremists to take on the subject of “Saving America.”

For some reason, the task of saving America had much to do with Anthony Weiner’s troubled campaign for mayor of New York City. There was little controversy on this matter since every participant agreed that Weiner’s behavior was unconscionable. However, one participant was critical of the debate because she felt it distracted from a much bigger problem:

Brooke Goldstein: “What’s amazing to me is that we’re spending time debating ‘Shmecklegate’ when Huma Abedin, who has connections to the Muslim Brotherhood, who is connected to the chief financier of Al Qaeda, is his wife and has top security clearance.”

To which Hannity replied: “This is a great point.”

Goldstein is regurgitating, and Hannity is concurring with, a long ago debunked lunacy that was invented by noted Islamophobe, Pamela Geller. The falsehood that Abedin is a Muslim Brotherhood double agent in the Obama administration has been spread by the likes of David Horowitz, Glenn Beck, Michele Bachmann, Steve King, and more. These cretins stuck to their slander even after GOP House Speaker John Boehner called their remarks “dangerous,” and Sen. John McCain slammed them as “an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable citizen, a dedicated American, and a loyal public servant.”

Later on Fox News, anchor Lauren Green conducted an interview (video below) with author Reza Aslan whose new book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, explores the historical life of Jesus. Aslan is professor of religion with four degrees (including one in the New Testament) and twenty years experience studying, teaching, and writing about world religions. Nevertheless, the only thing that Green thought was relevant to the discussion was that Aslan is also a Muslim.

Green berated Aslan repeatedly about why he would write a book about Jesus. She seemed to be unable to comprehend that a scholar with impressive credentials in the subject would concern himself with a major historical religious figure who was not of his faith. Aslan politely pointed out that it is his job as an academic to write about these things. But after numerous efforts, Green continued to question his motives.

After enduring this barrage of nonsense, Aslan addressed it specifically wondering aloud why, instead of discussing the content of his book, they were arguing about whether he had a right to write it. He also pointed out that Green’s insinuations that he would have a negative bias toward Christianity were absurd considering that his mother and his wife are both Christians. But none of this seemed to have an effect on Green’s determination to find something sinister in Aslan’s intentions.

At one point, Aslan touched on an obvious hypocrisy in Green’s questioning. He wondered whether she would have any problem with a Christian author writing a book about Mohammed. As it turns out, a colleague of Pamela Geller, and the director of the anti-Islam Jihad Watch, Robert Spencer, wrote a book titled “The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion.” The title pretty much gives away the perspective of the author. However, that didn’t stop Fox News from interviewing him on numerous occasions. He has appeared on Hannity, Glenn Beck, Happening Now, and Fox & Friends, among others. They even identified this obviously biased Christian on the air as an “expert in Islamic law and history.”

Fox News

So, for some reason Fox considers it OK for a Christian extremist to write a viciously derogatory book about Muslims, but they find it totally inappropriate for a respected academic, who happens to be Muslim, to write fair and balanced historical look at Christianity. If there was ever any ambiguity as to whether Fox News harbored overt religious prejudice, these incidents should put the question to rest.

[Update] Media Matters has dug into the background of Fox anchor Lauren Green and found that she has reported on Muslims on several occasions despite being a devout Christian. She even wrote that only Christians can be truthful journalists:

“Journalists’ first obligation is to seek truth, and the only way absolute truth can be found is by measuring humanity’s idea of truth against God’s standards, she said. Therefore, the only way for a journalist to achieve ultimate success is to hold to the Christian faith.”

This really helps to explain the astonishingly twisted behavior of Green during her segment with Aslan. She doesn’t believe that Aslan, or any non-Christian, is capable of telling the truth. And this is the sort of openly bigoted reporter that Fox employs.

Where Are The Anti-Tyranny Teabaggers When Fox News Proposes Bugging Churches?

The Tea Party, and their Republican handlers, have created a cottage industry of fabricated fear mongering over imaginary plots to thrust the American people into slavery. Their incessant wailing over non-existent attempts by President Obama to designate himself a dictator and force his socialist, Sharia law down the throats of patrio-pathic Christicans has reached eardrum-busting decibel levels.

So it sort of makes you wonder why they aren’t aiming their NRA-approved assault weapons at their TV sets that are perpetually stuck on Fox News. Because this morning, Brian Kilmeade of Fox & Friends proposed that the government place listening devices in houses of worship.

Fox News

Whatever happened to the right-wing advocacy of small government? Where are the zealots who are convinced that Washington is a cesspool of would-be tyrants? How can those defenders of the Founding Fathers be silent when Fox News promotes such brazen violations of privacy and religious liberty?

The truth is that the righteous wing of the Republican Party was never opposed to big government. They have always favored a brand of oppression that focused on the private lives of the people. When they say that they want government “off their backs” what they mean is off the backs of big business. Regulation is a mortal sin to them. But they reserve the right to dictate how law-abiding individuals practice their faith, not to mention who they marry and what they are permitted to do in the privacy of their bedrooms.

Clearly hypocrisy is not foreign to their way of thinking. And that’s how they can sit back and be silent when their spokesmodels say things that are seemingly contrary to what they pretend to believe. Besides, when you violate the rights of minorities it doesn’t really count, does it?

Fox News Hypocrisy Raises Its Ugly Head At Church

At some point you would think that the mind-control mavens at Fox News would stop and ask themselves if their overtly contradictory messages were going too far. You would, however, be wrong to have such a naive thought.

President Obama and his family spent Easter Sunday this year at their neighborhood St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. By most accounts it was a pleasant outing that celebrated the holiday in a conventional manner. So leave it to Fox News to abandon convention and find something nefarious with which to attack the President.

Fox News

It seems that Rev. Luis Leon offended the Fox martinets of virtue by including in his sermon a message that just happens to comply with the church’s beliefs:

Leon: “I hear all the time the expression ‘the good old days’. Well, the good old days, we forget they have been good for some, but they weren’t good for everybody. You can’t go back, you can’t live in the past. It drives me crazy when the captains of the religious right are always calling people back. For Blacks to be back in the back of the bus; for women to be back in the kitchen; for gays to be in the closet; and for immigrants to be on their side of the border.”

Standing up for the oppressed in society is something that many churches regard as obedience to the teachings of their Savior. But to Fox News it is an affront to their Teabaggery and they simply will not have it. Consequently, they set out to disparage Rev. Leon, his church, and even the President (who had nothing to do with the sermon). On Fox’s America Live, Megyn Kelly hosted a panel that deemed the affair a “Controversial Easter Sermon,” and criticized the Rev. Leon for “blasting conservative Christians.” Over at the lie-riddled Fox Nation, it was characterized as “Another Obama Pastor Problem,” a stale reference reaching back to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Oddly enough, Fox had no problem when a conservative doctor named Ben Carson took to the podium at the National Prayer Breakfast and abandoned the spiritual theme of the event to rattle off a right-wing diatribe about taxes and debt. To the contrary, Fox glorified him as a hero of liberty and began laying the groundwork for his presidential campaign, and/or canonization. Fox described him as “Stealing the Show,” while Fox Nation gushed “Amazing Conservative Speech Upstages Obama At Prayer Breakfast.”

The divergence in presentation of these two events is more than hypocritical. The comments by Dr. Carson were totally inappropriate at a public religious event that for decades was respected as a gathering of harmony where partisanship was set aside. Carson breached that tradition to foist his views on the audience and was exalted for it by Fox News and other conservative outlets.

On the other hand, Rev. Leon was speaking in his own church to his own congregation whom he knows well. The Episcopal Church is regarded as a comparatively liberal denomination that advocates for gay rights and has ordained women and gays as ministers. Leon’s sermon was in keeping with the values of his church and parishioners.

Nevertheless, Fox News chose to exploit this private service to advance their political agenda. And by complaining about the content of the sermon they are effectively conceding that Leon was correct in criticizing “the captains of the religious right [who] are always calling people back.”

Well, as Jesus told Mary “You can’t go back.” And as much as Tea-publicans may pray for it, African-Americans are not going back to the back of the bus; women are not going back to the kitchen; and gays are not going back into the closets. As for immigrants, if they were all to go back there would be no one left here but Native Americans – a scenario that some may regard as preferable.

The Anti-Constitutional, Christo-cratic Case Against Marriage Equality

With the Supreme Court’s deliberations on a pair of marriage equality cases last week, more and more right-wing “Christo-crats” are affirming their faith-based opposition to the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. And increasingly, those affirmations are taking the form of inadvertent admissions that marriage is not within the purview of the state to decide. It is constitutionally impermissible for courts to rule for or against specific religious dogma.

God's Law

Nevertheless, That is exactly what the martinets of virtue on the right are advocating. For example, former CNN contributor Dana Loesch wrote an editorial that appeared on both RedState and the lie-riddled Fox Nation that sought to refute the notion that marriage equality is a conservative position. She insists that it is not, and that…

“Marriage is a covenant between a man, woman, and God before God on His terms. It is a religious civil liberty, not a right granted by government. [...] In suing over “marriage” itself one is demanding that God change His definition of the union between a man and a woman.”

Loesch does not bother to reveal where in God’s Dictionary the definition of marriage occurs, nor does she reveal where one can pick up a copy of God’s Dictionary. If she is referencing passages in the Bible, then she is conveniently excluding from God’s definition those pious Biblical figures who maintained multiple (sometimes hundreds of) wives. Likewise she leaves out God’s mandate that rapists be forced to marry their victims. But more to the point, she is admitting that marriage is a construct of religion and, therefore, it is unconstitutional for the state to have a hand in it – except, in her view, so far as Christian-approved nuptials are concerned.

That same doctrine was addressed by Breitbart’s John Nolte in a column accusing the media of trying to destroy religion. That’s the same media that just completed endless hours of blanket coverage of the selection of a new Pope; the same media whose Christmas specials preempt everything else on the air. Nolte argues that recognition of the right for same-sex couples to marry would improperly impose on the right to religious freedom for Christians who regard such behavior as sinful. But if the religious freedom of Christians is violated every time something they regard as a sin is allowed under the law, that would make premarital sex unconstitutional [not to mention lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride. By that measure, the Constitution would require the dissolution of Congress] Nolte says that he is in favor of civil unions, but…

“I oppose same-sex marriage because marriage is a sacrament, and there is a big difference between asking one to be tolerant, and demanding one condone.”

Once again we have an evangelical conservative admitting that his opposition is based on spiritual grounds. And once again, that would make it an invalid argument so far as the Constitution is concerned. They simply cannot assert that something is subject to legal prohibition because it conflicts with their religious beliefs. Were that the case, Jews could seek a Supreme Court judgment mandating that all food in America be produced in accordance with the laws of Kosher. What’s more, no one is demanding that any particular behavior be condoned, merely that it not be discriminated against. That’s a distinction that conservatives have trouble comprehending, or perhaps they just enjoy being bigots.

RedState’s Erick Erickson chimed in with an article asserting that “‘Gay Marriage’ and Religious Freedom Are Not Compatible.” He hinges his argument on the Bible passage, Matthew 19:4-6, wherein Christ says…

“…He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

Erickson acknowledges that in this passage Christ is answering a question about whether it is permissible to divorce one’s wife. It was not a question about who is allowed to marry. But he dismisses that fact and focuses only on what he interprets as a definition of marriage, rather than as a direct response to a specific question. Likewise, he dismisses the part about divorce being against God’s law. This is an example of the convenient piety of so many sanctimonious religious zealots that permits them to pick and chose which principles they will honor. If Erickson wants to make a federal case of the definition of marriage as expressed by Matthew 19:4-6, then he should be consistent and call for a constitutional prohibition of divorce. Instead he impugns the sincerity of his ideological foes by calling them “a bunch of progressive Christians who have no use for the Bible,” even though he’s the one twisting it to fit his political prejudices.

Like Loesch and Nolte, Erickson is admitting that he sees gay marriage as “a legal encroachment of God’s intent.” Therefore, without realizing it, he is admitting that it is not a valid argument in a nation whose Constitution says that it “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Even Bill O’Reilly has noticed that the anti-marriage equality crowd is obsessed with religious justifications, rather than sound legal arguments. He praises gay advocates for saying that…

“‘We’re Americans. We just want to be treated like everybody else.’ That’s a compelling argument, and to deny that, you have got to have a very strong argument on the other side. The argument on the other side hasn’t been able to do anything but thump the Bible.”

Indeed, Bible thumping is not generally viewed in legal circles as a basis for constitutional findings. Yet, as the issue winds through the maze of judicial debate, the Tea-vangelical’s arguments continue to devolve into nothing but sanctimonious sermonizing. It is evermore apparent that their bigotry has no justification under America’s law, so they fall back on God’s law and attempt to ram their beliefs down the nation’s throat. They clearly have no respect for the Constitution or the freedom it guarantees for religious liberty nor, of course, for the equal protection of the law that forbids the state from discriminating against same-sex couples who seek to marry.

Pope TV: The Fox News Connection To The Vatican

Well, here we go again. There’s gonna be another new Pope and for some reason American television is going to be plastered with wall-to-wall coverage of a religious enterprise’s loss of its CEO and their search for a new leader.

Pope TV

With the announcement that Pope Benedict will resign at the end of this month, it also seems like a good time to reprise this article about how a Fox News reporter became the PR man at the Vatican:


Awash In Scandal, Vatican Turns To The Pros At Fox News For Help
[June 24, 2012] It was announced yesterday that Greg Burke, the Fox News correspondent in Rome, has accepted the position of senior communications adviser in the Vatican’s secretariat of state. The article in the Associated Press notes that the Vatican has been having a number of problems such as “a scandal over Vatican documents that were leaked to Italian journalists,” [...] “Benedict’s now-infamous speech about Muslims and violence, his 2009 decision to rehabilitate a schismatic bishop who denied the Holocaust, and the Vatican’s response to the 2010 explosion of the sex abuse scandal.”

When an institution as prominent as the Vatican requires professional guidance through a maze of public relations challenges as steep as these, it only makes sense that they reach out to experts in the propaganda arts. Conveniently, Burke was at hand in Rome and, as a member of the ultra-conservative Catholic prelature, Opus Dei, his accordance with Church dogma is not in doubt.

Presumably the Vatican is confidant that Burke will bring some measure of expertise to his new duties whitewashing the Vatican’s malfeasance. However, Fox News is better known for their prowess in inventing scandals that never occurred (i.e. Birthers, voter fraud, war on Christmas, fast and furious, etc.), rather than in quelling actual scandals. Nevertheless, Burke’s first statements after the hiring suggest that he is precisely what the Vatican is looking for:

Burke: You’re shaping the message, you’re molding the message, and you’re trying to make sure everyone remains on-message.

In other words, Burke will be doing for the church exactly what Fox News has been doing for the Republican Party for years. Which raises a question far more interesting than the one about a Fox News correspondent going to work for the Vatican: What was a member of Opus Dei doing covering the Vatican for an alleged “news” organization for the past ten years? That would be indisputably unethical. It would be fine if he were assigned to farm subsidies or Wall Street, but not the church with which he is so closely associated. That would be like having a top Republican strategist working as a political analyst at a news network.

Oh wait…Karl Rove is already doing that at Fox News. And Fox also employed four prospective GOP presidential candidates in the past year. And they also employ executives who were caught instructing their news staff to slant their reporting to favor Republicans. And they invite Republican politicians and advocates to appear on the air far more often than Democrats or liberals. Mitt Romney alone as appeared on Fox & Friends 21 times in the last year, while appearing only once on any Sunday network news program.

It may be be indisputably unethical, but it’s also the Fox News business model. Whether or not it works at the Vatican remains to be seen. However, the Republican Party and the Vatican have much in common. They are both trying to sell stories on faith to ill-informed people who are motivated by fear.


So get ready for the onslaught of PopeMania that is bound to persist at least until a new Pope is crowned sometime between now and the end of March. Mr. Burke is already on the story and has secured a high profile Op-Ed on Fox News written by John Moody, Executive Vice President and Executive Editor at Fox News, as well as a Pope John Paul II biographer. Moody’s article, not surprisingly, concludes by praising Benedict as “brave” and reminding the Fox Flock that “the promise of heaven [is] lasting and infinite.” You know…..journalism in the proud tradition of “We preach, you deify.”

Bill O’Reilly Says That “Christianity Is Not A Religion”

The War on Christmas is in full swing, folks. And the latest battle occurred last night on The O’Reilly Factor.

O’Reilly brought on David Silverman, President of American Atheists, to set up a manufactured debate over the place of Christmas in society, particularly when sponsored by agencies of the government. In the heated exchange, O’Reilly frequently bellowed at his guest whom he called a “fascist” at one point. But the segment’s most surreal moment came when O’Reilly sought to make the argument that public displays of faith on government property are permissible because…

Bill O'Reilly

Yikes! That’s a rather astonishing declaration. I wonder if Christians know that what they are practicing is philosophical, not religious. Among the repercussions of this revelation is that Christianity would not be protected by the First Amendment which prohibits Congress from “respecting the establishment of religion.” The Constitution says nothing about philosophies.

Just to be clear, Here is the definition of each from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary

re·li·gion noun \ri-?li-j?n\
(1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance.

phi·los·o·phy noun \f?-?lä-s(?-)f?\
(1) : all learning exclusive of technical precepts and practical arts (2) : the sciences and liberal arts exclusive of medicine, law, and theology.

It seems to me that Christianity fits squarely in the definition of religion with its worship of God and devotion to faith. Philosophy, on the other hand, explicitly excludes Christianity as a theology.

O’Reilly has said some idiotic things on this subject. Like when he wrote in his auto-bloviography “Next time you meet an atheist, tell him or her that you know [me]. Then ask him or her if they still don’t believe there’s a God.” But this makes no sense at all. It is an insult to his audience who are not likely to be pleased that their religion has been downgraded. They will surely chafe at their savior being lumped in with the likes of Aristotle, Confucius, Nietzsche, and Sartre, none of whom walked on water or rose from the dead (that we know of). And if supporting the Constitution’s principles of equality and free expression make you fascist, then there are tens of millions of American fascists. Don’t anybody tell O’Reilly or he’ll start a war on the Constitution.

[Update] Bill O’Reilly has doubled down on his insistence that Christianity is not a religion. In fact, he said that the people who think it is are “so stupid it’s painful.” But if you’re looking for stupidity, it’s in O’Reilly’s argument that Christianity cannot be a religion because “there are many different churches that promote the Christian philosophy in many different ways.” Right Bill, and all of them are “churches.” O’Reilly also quoted from a letter by Calvin Coolidge that he said proved that Christianity was merely a “state of mind,” despite the letter saying that “there will be born in us a Savior…” Now that’s not religious at all, is it?

Here We Go Again: Fox News’ War On Christmas Lunacy Returns

It happens every year at this time. Chestnuts roast over open fires; Jack Frost nips at your nose; and Fox News declares that there is a “War on Christmas” that only they can see.

Fox News War on Christmas

Of all the phony stories that Fox News can invent, this is one of the silliest. This a nation in which a sizable majority is Christian. And many who are not also celebrate the Christmas holiday out of convenience. It is a national holiday for which most people, Christian or not, get the day off of work. Every store in America features Christmas sales with products designed for the holiday. Christmas decorations adorn homes, restaurants, offices, lampposts, and anything else that tinsel can be wrapped around. And amid this all-consuming, orgy of Candy Cane colors and Bing Crosby tunes, Fox News still thinks that Christmas is facing some sort of hostile threat.

Never mind that there is good reason for many Americans to feel slighted by the rampant yuletiding going on all around them. Jews don’t get a national holiday. There are no Muslim films scheduled to run non-stop for eight weeks on thirty different TV channels. Hindus and Buddhists and even Unitarians have to fend for themselves. And don’t even bring up atheists.

Nevertheless, the War on Christmas is something that seems to dominate the Fox News Channel every year despite having no evidence that any war is in progress, except against all of the non-Christians. And if it weren’t enough that Fox is once again ranting over a non-existent war, take alook at what else they are railing about as this holiday season commences:

Fox News Doomsday

Yep, that’s a real thing. “Countdown to Doomsday.” Fox News Reporting is covering this vital subject beginning this Wednesday. They are outraged over a made up war on Christmas, but they are producing specials about an expired Mayan calendar. They are committing their awesome journalistic assets to uncover the truth about an alleged Mayan prediction of the demise of planet Earth. Mark my words, brothers and sisters, Fox will get to the bottom of this and declare it to be an ancient hoax. They will firmly denounce any possibility that a civilization from the past can accurately prophesy the end of the world in an apocalyptic holocaust.

Oh wait a minute. I guess there is one ancient civilization’s prophesy of an apocalyptic holocaust with which Fox concurs. And that’s the one that is at war with … someone, maybe the Mayans.

The Fox News Confessional: Dinesh D’Souza Begs Forgiveness

Pray for Fox NewsMost news editorial pages are devoted to expressing opinions on issues of significance to the public. However, as with everything else related to journalistic ethics, Fox News has different perspective.

Dinesh D’Souza, the director of the widely debunked crocumentary, “2016: Obama’s America,” was recently accused of having an extra-marital affair and brandishing his new, young, blonde, fiance in public. D’Souza, it should also be noted, is the president of King’s College, a Christian institution on Manhattan. [Update: The King's College board announced this morning that D'Souza has resigned amid allegations of infidelity] The charges against D’Souza swirled around conservative circles due to the sensitive nature of a devout, right-wing, demagogue being caught with his pants down (again).

Of course, this is far from a unique occurrence in the hypocritical world of sanctimonious piety peddlers. Preachers like Jimmy Swaggart and Ted Haggard have been been embroiled in sex scandals. Politicians like Larry Craig, Mark Sanford, and David Vitter, have had to explain their adulteries and whore mongering. And Fox News was always there to defend them. In the case of thrice-wed Catholic Newt Gingrich, Fox’s own psycho analyst, Keith Ablow, actually wrote a column arguing that America would be stronger under Gingrich precisely because of his multiple sins.

What’s interesting about this, however, is that Fox News has given D’Souza a platform to press his case for absolution. Posted as an “opinion” column, the headline declared “’2016: Obama’s America’ filmmaker — I am not having an affair.”

Fox News D'Souza Affair

Well then, that’s a relief. Apparently D’Souza was separated from his wife while he was prancing around with his new squeeze. And he was unaware that getting engaged while still married was verboten in the Jesus-sphere. [Update: D'Souza's mistress was also married] D’Souza’s article is nothing more than a rebuttal of personal allegations of infidelity. Why is that a subject for an editorial published by a so-called “news” enterprise?

This is further evidence that the word “news” has no business being associated with anything Fox does. They have a mission that is in stark contrast to what the rest of the world calls journalism. Now it’s not enough that Fox is a blatantly biased mouthpiece for hardcore, right-wingism, but it is also assuming the role of confessor, where wayward Republicans can be redeemed by its magic glow.

The Republican March To Church OVER State

Today’s Republican Party has become little more than an evangelical off-shoot of institutional Christianity. The Party’s leaders and followers alike demand unfettered adherence to the religion’s precepts and they require some form of faithfulness expressed in every public utterance. Illustrating the extent to which this applies is an article posted this morning on the Fox News community site, Fox Nation, with the headline Obama’s 9/11 Proclamation Does Not Mention God.”

Fox Nation

So what? What exactly would Fox like for Obama to say about God in his statement to a diverse nation about 9/11? Should he have asked why God would permit the slaughter of so many innocent people? Should he have condemned the God of the terrorists? Should he have questioned God’s allegiance to the Judeo-Christian west by siding with the extremist Muslims who attacked us? After all, if a football team regards their victories as having been blessed by God, then what must Al Qaeda think?

Is it now required that God be mentioned every time the President speaks, regardless of the context? And what other official proclamations would Fox criticize for having no mention of God? Will we soon be seeing headlines like:

  • Obama Fails To Credit God For The Doubling Of The Stock Market
  • Obama Leaves God Out Of Remarks In Praise Of Girl Scout Cookies
  • Obama Awards Presidential Medal of Freedom To Bob Dylan But None For God
  • Obama Makes No Mention Of God While Bowling At Campaign Event
  • Obama Refuses To Note God’s Role In The Rise And Fall Of The Unemployment Rate
  • Obama Takes First Dog Bo For Walk On White House Lawn Without Mentioning God

The GOP’s domination by evangelical zealots is all encompassing. It extends to its presidential nominee Mitt Romney who, while stumping on the campaign trail yesterday, made a delusional suggestion that Obama is planning to remove “In God We Trust” from U.S. coins. He never said anything of the sort. Romney also met with televangelist Pat Robertson yesterday.

The media is just as complicit in this unconstitutional melding of church and state. And leading the way is Fox News. Fox tried to turn a trivial platform issue at the Democratic National Convention into a high grade scandal when the DNC’s platform committee left God out of their document. They attacked Democrats incessantly without ever explaining why God should be in such a document in a country whose Constitution prohibits the “establishment of religion.” Yet they never gave the President credit for personally intervening to reinsert God into the platform.

It remains to seen what religion’s impact will be on the election. Many Republican’s mistakenly believe that Obama is a Muslim. And while Obama is certainly not the first choice of evangelicals, neither is Romney who, as a Mormon, is considered to be a member of a satanic cult by many mainstream Christians. And all of this debate, fanned by a fair measure of ignorance, is exactly why religion ought not to have a role in politics. But just try telling that to a Tea Partying fundamentalist.

Fox News Says: Jesus’ Real Father Was A Rapist, Claims Hollywood

Dateline: Hollywood, CA, 6/26/2012: Jesus’ Real Father Was A Rapist!

This startling proclamation has been reported by Fox News on their Fox Nation web site. The source for this shocking revelation was identified as “Hollywood.”

Fox Nation on Jesus of Hollywood

I wasn’t aware that Hollywood took official positions on spiritual matters. Was this the result of a vote by the Hollywood City Council (which doesn’t exist because Hollywood is not a city. It is a neighborhood within the city of Los Angeles)? Is there an official spokesperson for Hollywood who decides what Hollywood’s positions are? Is everyone in Hollywood now required to hold this position? And what about the people in Burbank where most of the business described as “Hollywood” actually takes place?


The inspiration for this story was the news that Dutch filmmaker, Paul Verhoeven (not from Hollywood), has succeeded after many years in getting a green light for his production, “Jesus of Nazareth.” It is an adaptation of his own book that reportedly includes speculation that Mary’s pregnancy might have been the result of her having been raped by a Roman soldier. The publisher describes the book saying…

“Paul Verhoeven disrobes the mythical Jesus to reveal a man who is, after all, startlingly familiar to us, a man who has much in common with other great political leaders throughout history, human beings who believed that change was coming in their lifetimes.

Gone is the Jesus of the miracles, gone the son of God, gone the weaver of arcane parables whose meanings are obscure. In their place Verhoeven gives us his vision of Jesus as a complete man, someone who was changed by events, the leader of a political movement, and, perhaps most importantly, someone who, in his speeches and sayings, introduced a new ethics in which enlightened behavior and the embrace of human contradictions transcend the mechanics of value and worth that had defined the material world before Jesus.”

Fox Nation credits the uber-rightist media-bashing site, NewsBusters, with bringing the story to Fox. NewsBusters credits Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze. So you know by that trail of bread crumbs that the story is legit. And who could argue with the assertion that Hollywood is unashamedly anti-Jesus? After all, they have only made thousands of films that venerate Christ from “The Greatest Story Ever Told” to “The Passion of the Christ,” and many more about revered figures in Christianity. Not to mention all the movies about Christmas, Easter, and other events deemed holy by church.

Nevertheless, the Fox Nationalists have deemed that, because a movie is being made about an alternative version of Christ’s life, and all movies represent the official view of Hollywood even though those movies have a broad diversity of differing opinions, that this is proof that it is Hollywood making the claim that Jesus’ father was a rapist. It makes perfect sense – if you’re a lobotomized crackhead – or a Fox News viewer.

Awash In Scandal, Vatican Turns To The Pros At Fox News For Help

It was announced yesterday that Greg Burke, the Fox News correspondent in Rome, has accepted the position of senior communications adviser in the Vatican’s secretariat of state. The article in the Associated Press notes that the Vatican has been having a number of problems such as “a scandal over Vatican documents that were leaked to Italian journalists,” [...] “Benedict’s now-infamous speech about Muslims and violence, his 2009 decision to rehabilitate a schismatic bishop who denied the Holocaust, and the Vatican’s response to the 2010 explosion of the sex abuse scandal.”

When an institution as prominent as the Vatican requires professional guidance through a maze of public relations challenges as steep as these, it only makes sense that they reach out to experts in the propaganda arts. Conveniently, Burke was at hand in Rome and, as a member of the ultra-conservative Catholic prelature, Opus Dei, his accordance with Church dogma is not in doubt.

Presumably the Vatican is confidant that Burke will bring some measure of expertise to his new duties whitewashing the Vatican’s malfeasance. However, Fox News is better known for their prowess in inventing scandals that never occurred (i.e. Birthers, voter fraud, war on Christmas, fast and furious, etc.), rather than in quelling actual scandals. Nevertheless, Burke’s first statements after the hiring suggest that he is precisely what the Vatican is looking for:

Burke: You’re shaping the message, you’re molding the message, and you’re trying to make sure everyone remains on-message.

In other words, Burke will be doing for the church exactly what Fox News has been doing for the Republican Party for years. Which raises a question far more interesting than the one about a Fox News correspondent going to work for the Vatican: What was a member of Opus Dei doing covering the Vatican for an alleged “news” organization for the past ten years? That would be indisputably unethical. It would be fine if he were assigned to farm subsidies or Wall Street, but not the church with which he is so closely associated. That would be like having a top Republican strategist working as a political analyst at a news network.

Oh wait…Karl Rove is already doing that at Fox News. And Fox also employed four prospective GOP presidential candidates in the past year. And they also employ executives who were caught instructing their news staff to slant their reporting to favor Republicans. And they invite Republican politicians and advocates to appear on the air far more often than Democrats or liberals. Mitt Romney alone as appeared on Fox & Friends 21 times in the last year, while appearing only once on any Sunday network news program.

It may be indisputably unethical, but it’s also the Fox News business model. Whether or not it works at the Vatican remains to be seen. However, the Republican Party and the Vatican have much in common. They are both trying to sell stories on faith to ill-informed people who are motivated by fear.

Rick Santorum And The Anti-Intellectual, Theocratic Legacy Of The GOP

The Republican Party has been advocating ignorance for decades. They Reject the 98% of scientists who affirm that climate change is real and the result of human activity. They scoff at evolution in favor of Biblical affirmations that put the age of the Earth at only 6,000 years. They belittle Harvard graduates as elitists and revere candidates they think would make good beer drinking companions.

Now Rick Santorum, the current frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, has said aloud what has only been alluded to in the past. At a forum for the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, Santorum said…

“President Obama wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob!”

Really. How elitist of Obama to suggest that all Americans have access to the same opportunities to improve themselves personally and professionally. What a pompous, exclusionary attitude. Santorum continued saying…

“There are good decent men and women who go out and work hard every day and put their skills to test that aren’t taught by some liberal college professor trying to indoctrinate them. Oh, I understand why he wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image. I want to create jobs so people can remake their children into their image, not his.”

Exactly. Heaven forbid that kids should be encouraged to learn things taught by college professors when all they are capable of is manual labor and assembly line work. Santorum is squarely opposed to kids having higher aspirations. He castigates Obama for wanting to remake kids in the image of someone who began poor, from a broken home, and rose to become president of the United States. But Santorum prefers the image of kids who skip school, get a job, and never achieve anything greater than their parents did. Never mind the fact that most parents sacrifice selflessly to give their kids the opportunity to reach their highest potential.

In Santorum’s world ignorance is the goal. It would have to be in order to persuade people to vote for him. And his followers are fully on board with this. They applauded enthusiastically at his “snob” comment. But this is a relatively recent position for Santorum. In is last campaign for senate, his web site told a different story:

“In addition to Rick’s support of ensuring that primary and secondary schools in Pennsylvania are equipped for success, he is equally committed to ensuring the {sic) every Pennsylvanian has access to higher education.”

Critics will surely jump on that reference as evidence of Santorum’s hypocrisy. But not so fast. He was only in favor of “every Pennsylvanian” having access to higher education, not every American. Screw the Kansans and the Carolinians. Obama has the temerity to favor people from Arizona to Maine earning college degrees. That is unconscionable, but it’s OK for PA.

This weekend also saw Santorum describing the parts of the Constitution that make him vomit.

“I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute. The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country… to say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes me want to throw up.”

Of course, I don’t know of anyone who says that people of faith should have no role in the public square. They can and do in great numbers. However, having “involvement in the operation of the state” is another thing entirely. It’s called theocracy, and it’s what you get when there is no separation of church and state.

The combination of viewing education as a character flaw and the Bible as an addendum to the Constitution is what defines the modern Republican/Tea Party. But it is not what this country is based on and it is not the path to peace and prosperity. And when discourse devolves to the point that the Constitution makes candidates wretch and advocating greater access to a college education makes you a snob, you know that a line of reason has been crossed.

Is President Obama A Christian? Santorum? Gingrich? Romney?

It’s always comforting to know that there is someone you can turn to who can provide answers to the perplexing spiritual problems that we all face on a daily basis. Someone with wisdom and insight and experience in the ways of the Lord.

Such a person is Rev. Franklin Graham, at least in his own mind. He is the son and heir to the Billy Graham evangelist empire, and he appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe today (video below) to discuss the personal faiths of some national leaders. Here is what transpired:

Willie Geist: Do you believe that Pres. Obama is a Christian?
Graham: You have to ask Pres. Obama.

After that dodge, Graham spent several minutes evading the question by repeating the excuse that he doesn’t know what is in another person’s heart. Throughout the segment he pointedly refused to simply say that he believes that Obama is a Christian. However, he does say that he thinks Obama bends over backwards for Muslims and he finds it significant that some Muslims regard him as one of their own.

So what about Rick Santorum? Is he a Christian? Geist posed that question to Graham and got this response:

Graham: Oh, I think so. Because his values are so clear on moral issues. No question about it.

So he cannot answer the question about Obama because he can’t see into another person’s heart, but apparently he can see into Santorum’s heart. And that’s not all. Graham then volunteered this about Newt Gingrich:

Graham: I think Newt is a Christian. At least he told me he is.

Well, Obama also told Graham that he is a Christian, but that didn’t seem to stick. Graham said that what matters most is not what people say but how they live their lives. So of course he would be suspicious of an assertion of faith from Obama, a devoted husband and churchgoer, but he would accept Gingrich’s testimony, despite being a thrice-married, admitted adulterer who left his congressional post in disgrace for ethical violations.

Which brings us to Mitt Romney. When Alex Wagner asked Graham if Romney is a Christian, Graham wiggled this out:

Graham: I like him. He’s a Mormon. Most Christians would not accept Mormonism as part of the Christian faith.

Nevertheless, Graham praised Romney as a candidate. So there you have it. According to this Christian leader, being a serial sinner or a practitioner of a false religion is not an impediment to either the White House or Heaven. But God has much stricter standards for heathens like Obama who are faithful to their families, charitable to others, and ethical in their profession. It really makes you want to sing the praises of whatever brand of Christianity Graham is peddling.