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In 1993, then-Washington Post reporter Michael Weisskopf dismissed followers of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell as â€ślargely poor, uneducated, and easy to command.â€ť A correction came the next day: â€śThere is no factual basis for that statement.â€ť Post ombudsman Joann Byrd later confessed that â€śseveral able editorsâ€ť passed right over that inaccurate dollop of snobbery without recognizing its bias.
Almost 20 years later, that same contempt for religion continues. In fact, in some quarters of the media, religious bigotry has become acceptable.
In the words of Time writer Amy Sullivan, Democrats and their media friends are either â€śspooked or boredâ€ť by religion. They donâ€™t really pay attention to the beliefs of the vast majority of Americans who say they believe in God â€“ unless and until religious people stall the secularist agenda. Then religion becomes a strange, undemocratic force that must be scorned and stopped.
As part of its 25th anniversary, the Media Research Center has assembled a report revisiting the â€śobjectiveâ€ť mediaâ€™s hostility to organized religion, especially whenever it leans toward tradition or conservatism. For â€śSecular Snobs,â€ť the MRC has compiled 45 quotes in six broad categories:
I. Simple-Minded Christianity: The â€ścomplex, intellectual ideologyâ€ť of liberalism is seen as a much more impressive worldview than the old-time â€śfundamentalist faithâ€ť that provides a false sense of security to the less-educated American.
II. Republican Theocracy: From Falwellâ€™s Moral Majority in the 1980s to Rick Santorumâ€™s campaign in 2012, journalists continually proclaim that conservatives in the Grand Old Party want to impose something â€śpunitiveâ€ť and â€śpuritanicalâ€ť on America that is not unlike the ayatollahs in Iran.
III. Liberal Saviors: The media eliteâ€™s fear of GOP theocracy is matched by a willingness to entertain â€“ without embarrassment â€“ that leftist icons and Democratic Presidents from Clinton to Obama bear a striking resemblance to Jesus Christ.
IV: Bible-Thumping Death-Dealers: On hot-button issues like abortion and homosexuality, the religious right has been blamed for encouraging a â€śclimateâ€ť of violence, no matter how kind and generous their rhetoric.
V. Romeâ€™s Rottweilers: Journalists report and approve of Vatican City when the Pope is opposing capital punishment or U.S. wars, but when it comes to social issues and church governance, recent pontiffs have been slammed as vicious enforcers of â€śrigidâ€ť orthodoxy.
VI. Religion Slammed by Non-News Media Celebrities: For years, leading entertainers from Bill Maher to Rosie Oâ€™Donnell have ridiculed the American majority for how their religious beliefs have led to violence, extremism, and cults of â€śorganized pedophilia.â€ť
The report recommends the news media take religion seriously. If the Post apologized for Weisskopfâ€™s snide â€śeasy to commandâ€ť verbiage, why does this long-standing journalistic disrespect for religion continue?