As liberal politicians pose at churches, salt their speeches with Scripture, and insist that their aggressive drive for more government is pious obedience to the Almighty, they are getting powerful cover from the mainstream media.
The biggest help they are getting, apart from credulous acceptance of their sudden spiritual enthusiasm, is the media's demonizing of conservative Christians. Religion's okay only if it mirrors liberal opinion.
The New York Times has been in the forefront of the conservative Christian-bashing, running voluminous pieces that accuse churches of avoiding taxes and warning darkly that the Christian Right is on the verge of turning the United States into a Talibanesque theocracy.
Maintaining this false image takes a lot of repetition and misrepresentation. A perfect example is an article in The New York Times Sunday Magazine (Feb. 18) in which Concerned Women for America's position on spiritual outreach is so grossly distorted as to constitute a lie.
I had the privilege of directing CWA's Culture & Family Institute for nearly six years. At no time did I see any CWA representative say or do anything to support the vicious mischaracterization in this Times article.
Here's the passage, from "Narrowing the Religion Gap" by Gary Rosen, who is identified as managing editor of Commentary magazine:
"On the right, the culprits are familiar, having become stock characters in our politics. In his unsuccessful run for the Republican nomination in 2000, [Arizona senator and Presidential candidate John] McCain called them 'the agents of intolerance,' singling out Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. For a taste of their views, you can visit the Web site of Concerned Women for America (C.W.A.), which bills itself as the 'nation's largest public-policy women's organization.' Its mission is 'to protect and promote biblical values among all citizens,' the Bible being 'the inerrant Word of God and the final authority on faith and practice.' As for dissenters from C.W.A.'s stand on issues like the 'sanctity of human life,' a handy link to Bible passages explains 'why you are a sinner and deserve punishment in Hell.'"
Rosen's reference comes from CWA's Gospel page, which begins by reminding us that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Nowhere does CWA state or imply that people will be sent to hell because of their views on public policy.
The reference that Rosen pulls out of context continues this way:
"God, however, has made a way for you to join Him in Heaven instead. Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sins. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved."
This goes for everybody, regardless of background – liberals, conservatives, Baptists, Catholics, Buddhists, Republicans, Democrats, atheists, it does not matter. It has nothing to do with policy or dissenters of any policy.
Are there any editors at The New York Times who still insist on checking facts? Rosen should apologize not only to Concerned Women for America but to the Times editors who trusted him enough to run his piece.
My guess is that most Times editors wouldn't think of challenging Rosen's assertion because they share his prejudices. It probably made perfect sense to them. Conservative Christians did not become "stock characters" because of balanced coverage.
Rosen's main thesis is that everybody should run to the center, and stop worrying so much about nasty issues like abortion and gay rights. He cites several conservatives that he says "have performed a service lately by denouncing the GOP's pact with such authoritarian bullies."
Those sweet CWA ladies sure are scary. By the way, one of those "observers on the right" that Rosen names is Andrew Sullivan, the blogger/activist who insists that God approves of promiscuous homosexual behavior, all evidence aside.
Rosen takes some leftists to task for insisting on their own orthodoxies, but in his list of "luminaries" he includes Peter Singer of Princeton, who argues that parents should have a week to decide whether they want to kill a baby after it is born. Singer is also floating the idea that it's perfectly moral for humans to have sex with animals.
Remember, it isn't the Singers of this world we're supposed to fear, it's the CWA ladies. We know because we saw it in The New York Times.
Robert Knight is director of the Culture and Media Institute (www.cultureandmediainstitute.org), a division of the Media Research Center.