Patterico's Pontifications


Bill Keller’s Beclowning Achievement

Filed under: 2012 Election,General,Media Bias,Religion — Karl @ 10:43 am

[Posted by Karl]

Plenty of people — Ed Morrissey and Mollie Hemingway anomg them — have neatly dissected New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller’s perfect storm of ignorance and bias when it comes to the religious beliefs of those running for the GOP presidential nominee.  Keller identified Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum as “all affiliated with fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity,” when Santorum is Catholic, Bachmann is Lutheran, and Perry is a Methodist.  Keller hauls out the boogeyman of “dominionism,” when none of his targets are dominionists, and so on.  The response (such as it is) to this criticism by Keller and the rest of the establishment media is nearly as telling as the original smears.

On Twitter, Keller had two responses to his critics.  First, Keller noted that he was not seeing any quarrel with the basic point that we should ask candidates about their faith. I certainly have no quarrel with that point.  In 2008, I wrote about Barack Obama’s decades-long membership in a church based on black liberation theology and his decades-long relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and criticized the establishment media for not treating Obama the way JFK or Mitt Romney were treated on faith issues.

However, this merely underscores the major criticism lodged against Keller, which was that the New York Times avoided giving Obama scrutiny on faith issues.  Keller’s second response was that the NYT was “late to Rev. Wright in ’08, but we got there, and did it well.”  This response is dishonest or delusional, possibly both.  When a political controversy erupts in March 2008 and the NYT does not give it proper news coverage until September 2008, getting there late is bad coverage.  Would Keller defend covering a hurricane six months late? Please.  Nor was the quality of the NYT coverage good, by the standards Keller now thinks should be applied, asking none of the sort of questions Keller now thinks should be asked.  Indeed, Keller’s response on this point is particularly embarrassing once you learn that the NYT actually covered Obama’s relationship with Rev. Wright in April 2007, reporting:

It is hard to imagine, though, how Mr. Obama can truly distance himself from Mr. Wright. The Christianity that Mr. Obama adopted at Trinity has infused not only his life, but also his campaign. He began his presidential announcement with the phrase “Giving all praise and honor to God,” a salutation common in the black church. He titled his second book, “The Audacity of Hope,” after one of Mr. Wright’s sermons, and often talks about biblical underdogs, the mutual interests of religious and secular America, and the centrality of faith in public life.

With hindsight, it is easy to imagine how Obama could distance himself: by relying on the establishment media generally, and the NYT in particular, to mostly look the other way at the crucial moment.

It is worth noting — as Ed Morrissey and Lisa Miller did — that the NYT’s Keller is hardly alone in falsely playing the “Crazy Christian” card.  Similarly erroneous, x-degrees-of-separation journalism has been committed by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, NPR’s Fresh Air, Ryan Lizza at the New Yorker and Michelle Goldberg, a senior contributing writer for Newsweek/The Daily Beast.  From there, the bogus story gets treated as a serious topic of discussion at forums including the WaPo, CNN and USA Today.

Thus does the establishment media function the way Hillary Clinton once claimed the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy operated.  Thus does the establishment media again operate with the sort of “epistemic closure” that the Julian Sanchezes, Conor Friedersdorfs and Andrew Sullivans of the world are so quick to condemn in the conservative media (when they aren’t busy ignoring Sullivan’s obsession with the status of Sarah Palin’s uterus).  Ironically, Sullivan has been foaming at the mouth about “Christianism” for years.

Indeed, almost all of those soooo concerned about bogus memes circulating in a conservative echo chamber will never treat Rachel Maddow the way they treat Glenn Beck.  (Indeed, they won’t blink over the fact that a religious left activist — the Rev. Al Sharpton — now hosts a show on MSNBC.)  They will never view NewsBeast the way they view WorldNetDaily.  They will never compare Bill Keller to Sean Hannity — and rightly so.  After all, Hannity correctly identified the theology of Obama’s longtime church and interviewed Rev. Wright.  Hannity committed more actual journalism on this subject than Keller did.  More self-aware lefties in the media, like TNR’s Jonathan Chait, should take note that this is another example of the magical thinking of liberals.



Religion on the Job

Filed under: Religion — DRJ @ 10:37 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

A Central Texas bus driver is out of a job, and he says his religious views caused him to be fired:

“After he was dispatched to take the women to Planned Parenthood in January, [Edwin] Graning called his supervisor “and told her that, in good conscience, he could not take someone to have an abortion,” his lawsuit said. The women’s names, their location and the clinic location were not included in the lawsuit. Planned Parenthood also provides health care services unrelated to abortion.

Graning, a Kyle resident, is “an ordained Christian minister who is opposed to abortion,” the lawsuit said.

His supervisor, who is not named, responded by saying, “Then you are resigning,” the suit said.

Graning denied he was resigning and was later told to drive his bus back to the yard and then was fired, the lawsuit said.”

The law requires that an employer accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs unless it causes a “substantial financial hardship.” A law professor interviewed in the report indicated the outcome might hinge on whether the employer knew in advance of Graning’s religious concerns.



Court: School can Refuse to Fund Christian Group

Filed under: Education,Judiciary,Religion — DRJ @ 3:16 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In a case involving San Francisco’s Hastings College of Law, the Supreme Court ruled today that the school could refuse to fund a Christian group that violates the school’s nondiscrimination policy by excluding gays. Writing for the majority (the liberals and Justice Kennedy), Justice Ginsburg said the Christian group effectively sought preferential rather than equal treatment by seeking an exemption from the nondiscrimination policy.

Justice Samuel Alito’s dissent described it as “a serious setback for freedom of expression in this country.”



Christians Arrested at Dearborn Arab Festival

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Religion — DRJ @ 6:01 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Four Christians were reportedly jailed last Friday at a Dearborn, MI, Arab festival:

“Police in the heavily Arab Detroit suburb of Dearborn say they arrested four Christian missionaries for disorderly conduct at an Arab cultural festival.”

The link above goes to Hot Air where the post states the Christians were handing out literature. The BlogProf says he has corresponded with one of the arrested men who also attended last year’s Dearborn festival, and he apparently claims they weren’t even doing that:

I received this note from David Wood of Answering Muslims:

Muslims threatened to kill Nabeel and me if we showed up again at Arab Fest in Dearborn, so we went there yesterday. They didn’t kill us. Instead, police arrested us and we got to spend a night in jail (along with two others who were video recording us). Interesting city. I feel a documentary coming on. Title: “Welcome to Dearborn.”

Is it now illegal to preach Christianity in Dearborn, Michigan? Have Sharia rules been imposed there?

David added in a later note:

Yes, we’re banned from handing out literature, but we didn’t do that. We followed the rules, and still got thrown in jail. They flat out lied about us. We can prove they lied with the video footage (just like last year), but the police took our cameras and won’t let us have the footage. There’s major oppression of anyone who criticizes Islam.”

I’d like to hear more from the police because this sounds like the arrests were made based on trumped-up disorderly conduct charges. If so, a lawsuit and court order might convince the Dearborn police not to pick the easy way out. Frankly, though, I hope there is a better explanation because it shouldn’t be this easy to get Americans to put the Sharia way over U.S. Constitutional law.



Douglas County Tea Party

Filed under: Religion — DRJ @ 2:45 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

A patriotic and religious moment at last Friday’s Douglas County, Georgia, Tea Party:

Do most Americans accept differences in race, creed, color, national origin, sex, politics and religion? Sometimes I think our biggest differences arise from those who put secular government first and those who don’t.



Christian Judges

Filed under: Judiciary,Religion — DRJ @ 12:45 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The LA Times AP reports on four San Diego lawyers who are running for Superior Court judgeships based on a Christian platform:

“A group of conservative attorneys say they are on a mission from God to unseat four California judges in a rare challenge that is turning a traditionally snooze-button election into what both sides call a battle for the integrity of U.S. courts.

Vowing to be God’s ambassadors on the bench, the four San Diego Superior Court candidates are backed by pastors, gun enthusiasts, and opponents of abortion and same-sex marriages.

“We believe our country is under assault and needs Christian values,” said Craig Candelore, a family law attorney who is one of the group’s candidates. “Unfortunately, God has called upon us to do this only with the judiciary.”

The challenge is unheard of in California, one of 33 states to directly elect judges. Critics say the campaign is aimed at packing the courts with judges who adhere to the religious right’s moral agenda and threatens both the impartiality of the court system and the separation of church and state.”

Elected officials often espouse support for Christian or religious values but I don’t recall any judicial candidates who embraced Christianity as part of their judicial philosophy.

What do you think?



Cordoba House

Filed under: Religion — DRJ @ 10:59 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Why did New York approve a Muslim Center near Ground Zero, and why will it be named Cordoba House?

“Plans to build Cordoba House, a 15-story Islamic Center two blocks north of Ground Zero, received a major boost yesterday when a Manhattan community board backed the proposal by a 29-to-1 vote. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said the center would help “bridge and heal a divide” among Muslims and other religious groups.

Perhaps the Imam is sincere but I find the whole project an outrage. The name Cordoba House at best conveys a total insensitivity to the families of victims of the attack at worse it shows sympathy with the terrorist’s goals. Cordoba, was the Capital of Al-Andalus the Islamic Caliphate that ruled much of Spain during the Middle Ages. One of Al-Qaida’s main goals announced after the 9/11 attack was the restoration of the Cordoba Caliphate in Al-Andalus.

The Project is said to cost $100 million and no one seems to know who is paying for all of this. There are hundreds of Mosques in the New York area in a nation dedicated to religious freedom. If the Imam wants to “bridge and heal a divide” among Muslims and other faiths he should look beyond Manhattan. There are no churches or synagogues in Mecca, Riyadh or Kuwait. In Egypt, Iran and other Islamic nations those who don’t adhere to Islam practice their faiths at great risk to themselves and their families. I don’t understand why Mayor Bloomberg and other local officials are supporting this project.

Can anyone explain?”

I don’t think New Yorkers want to know the answer.



Green Shepherd Obama

Filed under: Government,Obama,Religion — DRJ @ 7:57 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In the run up to his Presidential campaign, Barack Obama spoke about his religious faith and affirmed it would help him govern:

“But what I am suggesting is this – secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square. Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Williams Jennings Bryant, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King – indeed, the majority of great reformers in American history – were not only motivated by faith, but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause. So to say that men and women should not inject their “personal morality” into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Moreover, if we progressives shed some of these biases, we might recognize some overlapping values that both religious and secular people share when it comes to the moral and material direction of our country. We might recognize that the call to sacrifice on behalf of the next generation, the need to think in terms of “thou” and not just “I,” resonates in religious congregations all across the country. And we might realize that we have the ability to reach out to the evangelical community and engage millions of religious Americans in the larger project of American renewal.”

This week’s Weekly Standard suggests that’s exactly what the Obama Administration is doing as the Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships plans to use America’s churches to promote Obama’s climate change legislation:

“Last month, the council spent a day at the White House briefing senior administration officials on its “final report of recommendations” for improving collaboration between the government and religious organizations. The 164-page document, entitled “A New Era of Partnerships,” takes up the “priority areas” identified by President Obama—Economic Recovery and Domestic Poverty, Fatherhood and Healthy Families, Environment and Climate Change, Global Poverty and Development, and Interreligious Cooperation.

Poverty, families, interreligious co-operation: All pretty standard. But what does an office created to help better provide social services to the needy have to do with climate change?

Apparently, the president’s council envisions the “partnership” between government and religious institutions as a means of spreading the administration’s environmental warnings, rather than just a way to help churches feed the hungry and clothe the poor. Faith-based organizations, the report notes, can take “a prominent leadership role in influencing policy, education, and action in those areas.”
The council hopes the new EPA faith office will also help churches and other nonprofits improve “access to financing,” including “establishing revolving loan programs or working with utility companies to help finance greening building projects.” The ultimate aim of all this government-supported retrofitting is clear: “Regional staff would work to engage local faith-and community-based groups to help meet Obama administration targets for greening buildings and promoting environmental quality.” [Emphasis added.]“

Obama and his Administration have already been caught using the NEA to push their partisan agenda. Now they’re using America’s churches.



Wisconsin Judge Rules National Day of Prayer Unconstitutional

Filed under: Judiciary,Religion — DRJ @ 5:34 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Wisconsin U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb has ruled unconstitutional the National Day of Prayer that was first established by Congress in 1952:

“In a 66-page opinion issued Thursday, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb said the holiday violates the “establishment clause” of the First Amendment, which creates a separation of church and state.

“I understand that many may disagree with that conclusion and some may even view it as a criticism of prayer or those who pray,” Crabb said in her opinion. “That is unfortunate. A determination that the government may not endorse a religious message is not a determination that the message itself is harmful, unimportant or undeserving of dissemination.”

The opinion comes in a case filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based group of self-described “atheists” and “agnostics.”

Here is the opinion and this is the section I think best explains the Court’s reasoning:

“However, recognizing the importance of prayer to many people does not mean that the government may enact a statute in support of it, any more than the government may encourage citizens to fast during the month of Ramadan, attend a synagogue, purify themselves in a sweat lodge or practice rune magic. In fact, it is because the nature of prayer is so personal and can have such a powerful effect on a community that the government may not use its authority to try to influence an individual’s decision whether and when to pray.”

The Court also pointed to the “divisive” impact and exclusionary effect of the National Day of Prayer as reflected in complaints listed at pp. 57-60 of the opinion. The Court then concluded with another example and a list of religious matters that aren’t prohibited:

“The same law that prohibits the government from declaring a National Day of Prayer also prohibits it from declaring a National Day of Blasphemy.

It is important to clarify what this decision does not prohibit. Of course, “[n]o law prevents a [citizen] who is so inclined from praying” at any time. Wallace, 472 U.S. at 83-84 (O’Connor, J., concurring in the judgment). And religious groups remain free to “organize a privately sponsored [prayer event] if they desire the company of likeminded” citizens. Lee, 505 U.S. at 629 (Souter, J., concurring). The President too remains free to discuss his own views on prayer. Van Orden, 545 U.S. at 723 (Stevens, J., dissenting). The only issue decided in this case is that the federal government may not endorse prayer in a statute as it has in §119.”

Religion is too controversial for one judge or one opinion to decide in a way that convinces everyone, and that’s especially true if the judge has to explain what the opinion doesn’t mean as well as what it does.



Spreading the Word

Filed under: Government,Religion — DRJ @ 6:55 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Here’s an unusual search and seizure case:

“The million-dollar question: Will you go to heaven?” is printed on the back of bills used as gospel tracts by a Dallas-area evangelical group.

The counterfeit money was seized by Secret Service Agents back in 2006 when a North Carolina man tried to deposit the $1 million bill in his bank account.

Last week, a Texas federal district court ruled that the fake money, printed by the Great News Network, is fake enough that it doesn’t pose a risk of fraud, so it’s not illegal.

Note: The U.S. doesn’t make a $1 million bill, or any bill over $1,000 for that matter. The slip–which bears the face of President Grover Cleveland–also says: “This is Not Legal Tender” and “Department of Eternal Affairs.”

The court also ruled that the Secret Service violated the Fourth Amendment when it took more than 8,000 of the bills from the organization’s offices without warrant, an unconstitutional search and seizure.”

The decision overturned a 2006 preliminary injunction ruling that treated the $1M bills as counterfeit money, not religious tracts, even though it appears only one person out of millions thought it was real:

“U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis refused to grant a request by Darrel Rundus of the Great News Network to order federal agents to return thousands of tracts – printed as million-dollar bills – seized June 2 from the ministry’s Denton office.

According to court documents, Secret Service agents became involved in the case after a bank customer in North Carolina recently tried to deposit one of the tracts. That led agents to the Denton ministry, where they grabbed up more than 8,000 tracts.
The government argued in court filings that the million-dollar bills are the same size as federal reserve notes, use a portrait of President Grover Cleveland and have the distinctive peach and green coloring of new currency denominations. The back of the bill also looks like the $20 bill, except that the borders contain type-written warnings against sins such as lustful glances at women. Repentance is also urged.

Brian Fahling, a Mississippi attorney who filed the injunction request on behalf of Great News Network, said the ministry has passed out millions of the tracts to spread a Gospel message, not to circulate counterfeit currency.

“One person out of 6 million was confused by this?” Mr. Fahling said about the bank incident in North Carolina. “It’s just absurd to think anybody would view this tract as real money.”

No word on the fate of the eternal optimist in North Carolina who tried to deposit one.


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