On Thursday, Mollie Hemingway of the GetReligion blog pointed out CBS's "major mistake" on the March 31, 2013 edition of Sunday Morning. On the Easter Sunday broadcast, Martha Teichner confused two biblical figures with the same name when she stated that "only one of the Gospels places Mary at the crucifixion, alongside the so-called 'beloved disciple' – possibly John the Baptist." Actually, the prophet was beheaded many months before Jesus' arrest.
During her report, Teichner also spotlighted the Broadway adaptation of Irish author Colm Toibin's novella "The Testament of Mary," which perverts the biblical Mary of Nazareth into an angry woman bitter over her son Jesus' execution and openly disdainful of His followers. [audio available here; video below the jump]
The correspondent spent the entire segment on the role of Jesus' mother in Christianity, and led with the Catholic Church's longtime devotion to her. Almost three minutes in, Teichner asserted that "during his [Jesus'] adult ministries, she [Mary] is seldom mentioned, although Mark describes what has been interpreted as a rift between them."
This reading of Mark 3: 31-35 is actually outside of the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox tradition about the Virgin Mary, but the CBS journalist turned to Professor Craig Evans of Acadia University in Canada for support. Evans claimed that the passage "definitely does point to a little bit of tension, at least at that point, between Jesus and his family." Teichner continued with her ill-informed statement about John the Baptist's presence at Jesus' death at Golgotha.
Near the end of her report, the correspondent played several clips from the stage production of "The Testament of Mary", along with two soundbites from Toibin, who defended his distorted version of the Virgin Mary:
FIONA SHAW, ACTRESS (from the play "The Testament of Mary"): And you must leave here because they will come looking for his followers-
TEICHNER: So why is a different Mary shocking?
SHAW: I am not one of his followers!
TEICHNER: Irish actress Fiona Shaw plays Mary late in life-
SHAW: Not – not one of you was normal, I said-
TEICHNER: Angry, tortured by doubt, as she remembers.
COLM TOIBIN, AUTHOR, "THE TESTAMENT OF MARY": There's, sort of, almost a hunger to create this woman.
SHAW: My son appeared. Oh, he was wearing rich clothes-
TEICHNER: Colin (sic) Toibin wrote 'The Testament of Mary', now on Broadway.
TEICHNER (on-camera): Is what you've done sacrilege?
TOIBIN: Anyone who looks at the story of Christianity – of the crucifixion itself – must wonder, even on the best days, even – you know, on Easter Sunday, I wonder if there's any other way to look at it. And so, I'm offering that as an artist.
TEICHNER (voice-over): His provocative take isn't the only alternative Mary story. In early Jewish texts, she was a harlot – the virgin birth untrue. She also appears in the Koran, honored by Muslims above all other women. Who was she really? The answer depends on the eye and the heart of the beholder.
More than three years earlier, during an October 2009 report on Sunday Morning, the CBS veteran hyped an online poll from Parade Magazine that found that "nearly a quarter of the respondents call themselves spiritual, not religious. And how about this? Half the people polled say they seldom, if ever, attend religious services." Perhaps, Teichner could have found someone in the remaining three-fourths to educate her about some of the basic details of the Gospel accounts.