The Da Vinci Speech Code? WaPo’s 'On Faith' Invokes Mary Magdalene to Blast Rush

March 8th, 2012 3:00 PM

Things are getting pretty surreal around the Washington Post’s “On Faith” blog when a supposedly credentialed cleric turns to the loopy fiction of “The Da Vinci Code” for ammunition to attack Rush Limbaugh. 

Rev. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, a minister in the United Church of Christ and a senior fellow at the George Soros-funded Center for American Progress, attacked Limbaugh by comparing Sandra Fluke to Mary Magdalene, in a March 5 post titled “Mary Magdalene to Rush Limbaugh: Your apology is too little, too late.”

Attacks on conservatives are standard fare on the “On Faith” blog. The editor of “On Faith,” Sally Quinn, also got into the Rush-bashing fest, attacking Limbaugh’s audience for daring to support him.

A regular at “On Faith,” Thistlethwaite often wields dubious theology in service of leftist politics. She fatuously claimed that Jesus would be an Occupy supporter, and blamed Christianity for the Oslo shooting. The theology of Thistlethwaite resembles the Disney movie Fantasia more than Christianity.

But the March 5 post was particularly rich. Her first paragraph attempted to compare Limbaugh’s admittedly deplorable personal attack on a known liar with the early Church’s attack on Mary Magdalene: “Rush Limbaugh, conservative radio talk show host, attempted to silence women’s voices in the public square through sexual shaming. The early church did the same thing to Mary Magdalene, sexually shaming her in the 6th century, mistakenly calling her a prostitute, and effectively undercutting her spiritual authority.”

Never mind that Mary Magdalene was considered a saint by the early Church and the medieval Church, and venerated by both early and medieval Christians as such. Thistlethwaite was too busy spinning a story about men demeaning women to bother with the truth.

The “theology” Thistlethwaite uses to justify that ridiculous assertion is laughable. She cites the Gospel of Mary to support claim that Mary Magdalene was somehow demeaned by the early Church. The Gospel of Mary was authored by the Gnostics, a term for followers of a series of heretical sects which taught that “secret” knowledge was necessary for salvation. Gnosticism was rejected by both the early Church and is currently rejected by every modern Christian denomination.

About the only place the Gospel of Mary is taken seriously besides Thistlethwaite’s column is in the fantasy-fiction of Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code.” And, sure enough, Thistlewaite sites the novel as an authoritative source, claiming that “‘The Da Vinci Code,’ both the book by Dan Brown and the film based on it, has pretty much restored Mary Magdalene’s reputation as a wealthy woman and a leading supporter of Jesus of Nazareth.” 

Thistlethwaite did note that the “fictional account by Dan Brown does add some non-biblical innovations” (i.e., that early Christians didn’t believe Jesus was really God), which is pretty much like saying that Stalin didn’t have much patience for people who disagreed with him.

Thistlethwaite also cited Karen King, a Harvard Divinity School scholar who used the Gnostic Gospels to conflate Gnosticism with early Christianity, claiming among other things that, “The new texts also contain an unexpected wealth of Christian imagination of the divine as feminine.”

When the only “sources” Thistlethwaite can cite are “Gospels” rejected by every branch of Christianity, feminist pseudo-scholars, and a work of fiction that has been eminently debunked in its “factual” claims, her tenuous grasp on Christian theology is clearly evident.

Thistlethwaite’s grasp of politics is just as tenuous as her grasp of theology. She claims that “Republicans are probably losing a generation of women and men who are appalled by this sexually demeaning attack on women” – conveniently ignoring that liberal pundits regularly call women all sorts of derogatory sexual epithets – as even honest liberals have been forced to acknowledge. But attacks against conservative women who don’t kowtow to the liberal gospel apparently don’t count for Thistlethwaite.