Media Bash Beck for Not Being Evangelical After Years of Bashing Evangelicals

August 31st, 2010 5:48 PM

The editors of the mainstream media must think we all have very short memories.

Their latest schtick is to smear conservative talk show host Glenn Beck as a creepy Mormon who has no business influencing evangelicals.

Aside from the disgusting hypocrisy of Mormon-baiting one minute and then bashing Islamophobia the next, these news outlets are also hoping you've forgotten about their recent smearing of evangelicals like Sarah Palin, John Hagee, and James Dobson.

But hey, they shouldn't be held accountable for their own religious bigotry on display in 2008. That was a whole two years ago, and anyway they had a Democrat messiah to protect.

For a flashback at how low the media stooped then, let's review an editorial cartoon shamelessly bashing Pentecostalism that appeared on the Washington Post's website on September 18, 2008:

This cartoon, which insults Pentecostalism as gobbledygook and portrays a God that spouts profanity, was so offensive Post ombudsman Deborah Howell was forced to admit "readers were right to complain."

And the bashing didn't stop there.

On September 5, a week after Palin's acceptance speech with McCain's campaign, tax-payer funded NPR claimed many Pentecostals view Iraq as "a holy war," and then suggested the Alaska governor's involvement in the church has "no doubt shaped her faith, and possibly, her view of world events."

Four days after that, CNN's prime time show AC 360 asked if Palin's colorful religion would "impact policy in Washington." That same day saw run an article that painted Pentecostalism in exotic tones, and then sincerely asked if Palin believed in separation of church and state.

Not to be outdone, liberal website brazenly posted the headline "What's the difference between Palin and Muslim fundamentalists? Lipstick."

That's how much respect the media had for Christianity two years ago.

Worse yet was Time magazine on October 9, 2008. Less than a month before the election, hard-hitting journalist Amy Sullivan wondered "Does Sarah Palin Have a Pentecostal Problem?" What followed was an entire article of unabashed religion-baiting:

Palin's religious background must initially have been seen as a positive to McCain campaign vetters, who assumed that her faith would appeal to the conservative base of the party that has always been suspicious of McCain. But ever since she joined the ticket in late August, the Alaska governor's various religious affiliations have caused headaches. First came reports that her pastor at the nondenominational Wasilla Bible Church was connected to Jews for Jesus, an organization that seeks to convert Jews to Christianity. Prominent Jewish leaders, including the co-chair of McCain's Jewish outreach effort, have since demanded to know whether Palin also believes that Jews must be converted. The Bible Church became an issue again when Katie Couric asked Palin about the church's promotion of a program to help gays "overcome" their homosexuality.

Note the subtle dig at the beginning - McCain chose Palin to appease the Republican party's powerful base of evangelicals. That was another popular theme in the media then, and many news outlets exploited it for all it was worth.

On August 15, 2008, Washington Post writer Krissah Williams Thompson bragged that "Bush's unpopularity has been an embarrassment to the evangelicals who overwhelmingly voted for him." Thompson went on to gush that McCain could "not afford to lose" the Christian vote and was forced into "fighting back" against Democrat advances on his base.

On June 28, Newsweek's Lisa Miller echoed the narrative that "for decades, right-wing kingmakers used their sway with voters to pick candidates and set a national agenda." This was seen as the primary reason McCain picked Palin.

Indeed, the Los Angeles Times claimed that Palin helped McCain get a clutch endorsement from James Dobson, which would translate into "millions of evangelicals" deciding their vote.

Ah, harmless minister Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and one of the media's favorite Christian punching-bags. When Dobson chatted with Palin during the election season, the Washington Post flippantly called him the "Christian Right leader" who ostensibly decided "how [his] God will be voting on election day."

It pained the media that devout Christians had such powerful influence on the Republican party.

During the presidential primaries in January, ABC News lamented that "the Republican contest was essentially about one thing: religion." Political commentators like Dobson, and vice presidential nominees like Palin, were too devout in their Christian beliefs and could not be trusted to handle policy decisions.

When audio of President Obama's pastor, Jeremiah Wright, broke into the national conversation, the media frantically compensated by attacking random pastors who endorsed McCain from a distance. On May 22, the Associated Press gleefully reported that McCain was forced to drop a routine endorsement from a church he'd never been a member of:

McCain actively courted Hagee, who leads a megachurch with a congregation in the tens of thousands and has an even wider television audience. Former Republican presidential rivals also sought Hagee's backing.

The preacher has controversial views that were well-known before McCain accepted his endorsement at a news conference Feb. 27 in San Antonio shortly before the Texas presidential primary.

Obama's longtime membership in a controversial church was not to be taken seriously. But McCain accepting endorsements as he passed through Texas was an embarrassment.

And yet suddenly, after so many years of complaining that conservatives were too evangelical, the media are worried that a new cultural leader, Glenn Beck, is not evangelical enough.

NewsBuster Tim Graham recently caught the Washington Post asking if Mormons are really Christians. Yes, that Washington Post - the same paper that printed a disgusting cartoon about Pentecostal gibberish. Suddenly, we're supposed to believe it cares about doctrinal purity among evangelicals.

The New York Times on Monday printed an editorial from Ross Douthat that criticized Beck's Mormonism for having too many "theological differences" from Dobson-esque Christianity. He went on to snicker that "neither serious evangelicals nor serious Mormons should be terribly enthused" about Restoring Honor.

Serious evangelicals? Like who? Sarah Palin, who was branded a witch-hunter? John Hagee, who was repeatedly called "controversial" for months? What about that theocratic control freak James Dobson who gets to decide how God votes - is he a serious evangelical?

If the media want to encourage evangelicals to follow respectable leaders, it would help if they identified evangelicals who are actually called respectable.