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In 1993, then-Washington Post reporter Michael Weisskopf dismissed followers of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell as “largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command.” A correction came the next day: “There is no factual basis for that statement.” Post ombudsman Joann Byrd later confessed that “several able editors” 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 “spooked or bored” by religion. They don’t really pay attention to the beliefs of the vast majority of Americans who say they believe in God – 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 “objective” media’s hostility to organized religion, especially whenever it leans toward tradition or conservatism. For “Secular Snobs,” the MRC has compiled 45 quotes in six broad categories:
I. Simple-Minded Christianity: The “complex, intellectual ideology” of liberalism is seen as a much more impressive worldview than the old-time “fundamentalist faith” that provides a false sense of security to the less-educated American.
II. Republican Theocracy: From Falwell’s Moral Majority in the 1980s to Rick Santorum’s campaign in 2012, journalists continually proclaim that conservatives in the Grand Old Party want to impose something “punitive” and “puritanical” on America that is not unlike the ayatollahs in Iran.
III. Liberal Saviors: The media elite’s fear of GOP theocracy is matched by a willingness to entertain – without embarrassment – 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 “climate” of violence, no matter how kind and generous their rhetoric.
V. Rome’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 “rigid” orthodoxy.
VI. Religion Slammed by Non-News Media Celebrities: For years, leading entertainers from Bill Maher to Rosie O’Donnell have ridiculed the American majority for how their religious beliefs have led to violence, extremism, and cults of “organized pedophilia.”
The report recommends the news media take religion seriously. If the Post apologized for Weisskopf’s snide “easy to command” verbiage, why does this long-standing journalistic disrespect for religion continue?