Church at Odds with Its Motto

When it comes to Christianity, some reporters seem unable simply to report the news. In a Washington Post news story-not an editorialreporter Craig Whitlock wrote about the controversy surrounding sectarian prayer in the Maryland State Senate Chambers. He quoted one pastor as praying, "Father, it is an abomination to you for leaders to commit wickedness. We pray you will guard their minds from Satan's evil thoughts. We pray that you will keep our leaders from doing evil. We pray that our leaders recognize that we are all accountable to you for our actions." Not content to let the words speak for themselves, the reporter added, "The pastor's stern words seemed at odds with the motto of his church listed at the bottom of its letterhead: 'A warm-hearted church with a heartwarming message."

This reportorial undercutting of Christianity has been going on for years. Bernard Goldberg, in his book Bias, which documents the liberal bias of the media, related that producer Roxanne Russell referred to Christian activist and Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer as "the little nut from the Christian group." And have you ever noticed the prevalence of stories discrediting biblical Christianity in the nation's leading magazines during the Christmas or Easter seasons? Columnist Don Feder observed that during Holy Week in 1996, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report both had cover stories debunking Christianity. Newsweek's headline was "Rethinking the Resurrection," and U.S. News's was "In Search of Jesus: Who was he?" Both, said Feder, amounted not to coverage of a scholarly debate, but "slick skepticism." He went on: "Would any of these publications have the chutzpah to run a cover story questioning the authenticity of Moses' message ('Moses, Man or Myth') or dissing Islam's founder ('Muhammad-Charlatan or What?')."

New Republic magazine, in its January 21, 2002, issue, ran a cover story entitled, "What Would Jesus Have Done? Pope Pius XII, the Vatican, and the Holocaust." Observers were outraged at the article's overt attack against Christianity. In a article, author Harry Crocker charged that the New Republic article characterized the New Testament, the symbol of the Cross, and the Catholic Church itself as "inherently anti-Semitic." Crocker noted that the "article is especially important because it shows that anti-Catholic hate is being mainstreamed." The American Taliban

Anti-Christian slander grew significantly during the early days in the War on Terror following the September 11 attacks. The media often described Christians as "the American Taliban," or as a fundamentalist group similar to Islamic fundamentalists. In other words, Biblebelieving Christians are morally equivalent to violent Islamic radicals. Sometimes the connection is made directly, as we saw in one of Bob Norman's columns in the New Times Broward-Palm Beach. In "De Regier, Plumbing the Depths of the Christian Taliban," Norman wrote, "The underbelly of the Christian Right is as scary as anything that ever dwelled in a Tora Bora cave. If September 11 taught us anything, it should have been to distrust religious fundamentalists of any kind, to leave them stranded on the banks of the political mainstream where they belong ... Jeb [Bush] has been catering to evangelical loonies ever since he took office; he routinely appoints way-out-there Christian wackos to key posts and backs the Religious Right on issues like abortion, the death penalty, and education. As for President Bush, I need utter only one word: 'Ashcroft. "

Specifically, Norman attacked Governor Jeb Bush's nomination of Jerry Regier to head the Florida Department of Children and Families. "Regier's oft-stated goal in life," said Norman, "is to take over our secular, Godless government and help create a Christian nation. He's a key agent in a radical movement that to me sounds a lot like the Taliban, only with a Bible instead of a Qu'ran.." Singing from the same anti-Christian hymnbook, columnist Robyn E. Blumner commented in the St. Petersburg Times, "The religious right has spent more than twenty years chipping away at the wall of separation between church and state, trying in Taliban-like ways to inject religion into public schools and the operations of government."

Similarly, promoters of Why the Religious Right Is Wrong About Separation of Church and State, by Robert Boston, sharply attacked the "radical religious right" in an almost full-page advertisement in the Los Angeles Times. "The radical religious right has declared war on America," warned the ad. "It's a religious war."19 Even politicians sometimes get into the act. Outgoing Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle complained to the media that domestic religious fundamentalism was causing a climate of hate in the United States. He too seemed to be comparing Christian conservatives to the Taliban when he said, "You know, we see it in foreign countries, and we think, 'Well, my God, how can this religious fundamentalism become so violent?' Well, it's that same shrill rhetoric, it's that same shrill power And that's happening in this country. And I worry about where, over the course of the next decade, this is all going to go."

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