Last month, Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton likened the Catholic Church in Los Angeles to "an ugly old political attack dog" and suggested that the state legislature reexamine its tax-exempt status for property. Why? Because Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles spoke out during a Mass against a proposed bill in California that would legalize physician-assisted suicide. He also singled out Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, who calls himself a Catholic, for supporting the bill. Skelton hyperventilated over the episode and claimed it was a "collision of church and state." He also clamored that Mahony's comments regarding Nuñez "cross[ed] the line."
Meanwhile, presidential candidate Barack Obama made an appearance at South-Central Los Angeles' First AME Church last Sunday (4/29/07). According to the Times, Obama addressed the congregation and "drew a sustained ovation when he rebuked the Bush administration." The paper covered the event with over 1,100 words and a very generous photo. (See an image of the article here.)
In addition, KTLA5 television in Los Angeles reported, "[Obama] said times are changing and a brighter day is ahead -- especially if he is elected president ... Obama danced and sang with the choir and the congregation prayed for him to become president."
KTLA5 also reported (emphasis mine):
[Obama said:] "We are going to usher in a new America ... Not only by providing health care for every American in this country, not only for every child to have a decent education, not only by ending the senseless war in Iraq, but also by electing as president, Barack Obama."
He also called on the community to help ... "This campaign may be a vehicle for your hopes and your dreams, but ultimately it is going to be because of you." ...
[Stevie] Wonder was ushered onto the stage next to Obama, where he sang a song saying in part "Barack Obama is going to be the next president," as the congregation amened.
So ... Where are the cries over a "collision of church and state" now? Will First AME Church be tagged as "an ugly old political attack dog," too? (I hope it won't. I'm just asking.)
In a November 8, 2005, article, the Times reported that a "public relations and political consultant" from First AME Church "tells candidates they can worship at First AME but cannot speak from the pulpit about their candidacy." Hmmm. Is that so? Judging from Obama's speech, it looks like someone broke the rules. Who was it?
(By the way, this article from ABC7 in Los Angeles also reported, "[Obama] told parishioners that he would need their support in his campaign for the presidency." ... View images from the event at ViewImages.com.)
On Monday (4/30/07), the Catholic League weighed in on the episode with a statement. It hit the nail on the head with this (emphasis mine):
[Sunday], Obama blasted the Bush administration’s handling on the war in Iraq while preaching at a Christian church. Now imagine a pro-life Republican candidate speaking at a Catholic Church denouncing the Democrats for supporting partial-birth abortions. And imagine the reaction he would receive if there were a color photo of him on the front page of the New York Times speaking at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The double standard is nauseous, and it smacks of religious and racial prejudice.”
Are we missing something here? Double standard? Anyone?
Can I file this under, "What if a Republican Had Done It?"