Secular Snobs

Documenting the National Media's Long-Standing Hostility to Religion

II. Republican Theocracy

When Martin Luther King spoke from a metaphorical mountaintop about legislating a political vision of his faith, liberals were thrilled. But whenever conservatives bring faith into their politics, 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.

“The only excited, demonstrative delegates any of us could find were the ones from the religious right, Pat Robertson’s God and Country rally. They remind me of those Goldwater delegates of 28 years ago, far more interested in imposing ideological purity on this party than they are on winning the election. They were happy today. They got the platform they want. No room for a pregnant woman to make any decision at all, even if she was raped. It’s a platform tough on welfare, tough on taxes and guns and gays and pornography, tough even on public radio and public television. They cheered Dan Quayle this afternoon and they will cheer Pat Buchanan and Ronald Reagan tonight, but will they help elect George Bush? It’s almost as if they haven’t thought of that, Dan.”
— Charles Kuralt during August 17, 1992 CBS Republican convention coverage.

“Bush, the exponent of a ‘kinder, gentler’ approach to government at the 1988 convention, was presented with a 1992 platform loaded with puritanical, punitive language that not only forbade abortions but attacked public television, gun control, homosexual rights, birth control clinics and the distribution of clean needles for drug users.”
Boston Globe reporter Curtis Wilkie, August 18, 1992 news story.

“Howard, who are the Republicans who are not happy with the way this event looked tonight and similar groupings of these six, meaning, and it’s red meat for conservatives, the positions rather strident tonight: anti-gay, pro-Jesus, and anti-abortion and no gray matter in between?”
— Brian Williams, after a debate amongst Republican presidential candidates, to Newsweek’s Howard Fineman, Jan. 6, 2000 MSNBC’s The News with Brian Williams.

“In John Ashcroft’s America, he said in 1999, ‘We have no king but Jesus.’ But President-elect George W. Bush has nominated Ashcroft to the position of Attorney General of the United States. In the venerable halls of the Justice Department, where he will work, it is the Constitution that is king....Ashcroft will need to assure the nation that he can enforce the Constitution and the laws of Congress when they run contrary to the laws of Jesus, as they surely will. A larger question, spoken or unspoken, will be: Can a deeply religious person be Attorney General?”
— Opening of Jan. 16, 2001 USA Today op-ed piece by former USA Today Supreme Court reporter Tony Mauro.

“The [President’s Council on Bioethics] will be navigating a scientific and ethical landscape significantly more complex than the one that existed...last summer. In November, researchers announced that they had made the first human embryo clones, giving immediacy to warnings by religious conservatives and others that science is no longer serving the nation’s moral will. At the same time, the United States was fighting a war to free a faraway nation from the grip of religious conservatives who were denounced for imposing their moral code on others.”
Washington Post reporter Rick Weiss in a January 17, 2002 “Federal Page” article.


“If you like the Supreme Court that put George W. Bush in the White House, you will swoon over what’s coming. And if you like God in government, get ready for the Rapture.”
— Bill Moyers’ commentary on PBS’s Now November 8, 2002, a few days after Republicans won the midterm congressional elections.

“Attorney General John Ashcroft has earned himself a remarkable distinction as the Torquemada of American law. Tomas de Torquemada...was largely responsible for... [the] torture and the burning of heretics – Muslims in particular. Now, of course, I am not accusing the Attorney General of pulling out anyone’s fingernails or burning people at the stake (at least I don’t know of any such cases). But one does get the sense these days that the old Spaniard’s spirit is comfortably at home in Ashcroft’s Department of Justice.’
— Former CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite in his syndicated column published in the September 22, 2003 Philadelphia Inquirer.

“Look at the little empires that people like James Dobson or Pat Robertson run. They are despotic, Third World fiefdoms where these guys fly around with bodyguards and Lear jets and amass hundreds of millions of dollars taken from people who live on the margins of American society...The image that they present of Jesus and of the Christian is essentially a warrior cult. I mean, it is that obsession with violence, it’s that notion that America can use its imperial power and use its violence to create a Christian society. They condemn...other religion as satanic, I mean, they’re constantly blasting Islam, nominal Christians, liberals. It is a message that’s deeply anti-Christian and I think filled with a lot of bigotry and a lot of intolerance.”
— Former New York Times reporter Chris Hedges, author of the book American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, on the February 8, 2007 Colbert Report on Comedy Central.

“Do you think God belongs in American politics?...[Sarah Palin] knocks the McCain campaign because she didn’t have anybody in the campaign to pray with. That is an amazing public statement to me....I mean, this is a little bit theocratic, isn’t it? A little scary?...Is he [John McCain] the Anti-Christ? I mean what, she’s portraying him as some ungodly figure in which a campaign, a national campaign, where all the people surrounding her, and she couldn’t find anybody that shared her Christianity. Is that what she’s saying?...Why does everything sound like The 700 Club with this party now? I mean, everything seems to be a religious discussion.”
— MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on Hardball, March 26, 2009.


“You then have Rick Santorum representing the theocrats and the Republican Party, which is also part of the base — theocracy, of course, like perhaps the one in Iran, they would like to see that created here.”
Former CNN reporter Bob Franken on MSNBC’s Politics Nation, January 6, 2012.

“Remember earlier in the campaign when Newt Gingrich was worrying everyone about Sharia law: the Muslims were going to impose Sharia law in America? Sometimes Santorum sounds like he’s creeping up on a Christian version of Sharia law.”
— Ex-New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller, now a columnist for the paper, on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, February 28, 2012.