Religion of Liberalism: Washington Post's 'On Faith' Blog

March 12th, 2012 11:31 AM

The Washington Post’s “On Faith” blog network bills itself as “a conversation on religion and politics.” But the conversation of “On Faith” more accurately resembles a diatribe justifying liberal politics with religious imagery. 

During this past week, Becky Garrison claimed that Christian actor Kirk Cameron was not a Christian because he opposes homosexual marriage, and Lisa Miller declared that “In churches across the land, women are still treated as second class citizens.”

But “On Faith” regularly cloaks attacks on conservatives and liberal advocacy in religious language and themes. Regular “On Faith” blogger Anthony Stevens-Arroyo wondered of Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum whether “such sanctimony [is] attributable to the secretive Opus Dei that he esteems.” The director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, Louise Melling, bizarrely declared that the Obama administration’s “birth control decision defends religious liberty.” Prolific “On Faith” blogger Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite opined that “None of what the tea party teaches has anything to do with the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.”

The Culture and Media Institute analyzed 149 posts on The Washington Post’s “On Faith” blog network from December 1, 2011, to January 31, 2012. Posts that posited a liberal view of religion outnumbered conservative posts by over a 3 to 1 ratio. Of 79 posts that touched upon political matters, CMI found that 57 posts reflected a liberal point of view, 17 posited a conservative point of view, and 5 took no overt political stance.

It is unsurprising that the “On Faith” blog network reflects a liberal tilt. “On Faith’s” editor, Sally Quinn, is a religious agnostic, strident liberal, and ardent feminist, who infamously declared in 1999 that Bill Clinton was America’s first “woman president.” Even liberal critics have harshly criticized Quinn: the Huffington Post’s Taylor Marsh has called Quinn crazy, and The American Prospect’s Tim Fernholz expressed astonishment that “Quinn is being paid by the Post to write this sort of dreck.”

Quinn is not shy about injecting her peculiar brand of liberal feminism into “religious” writings on the “On Faith” blog. Five of Quinn’s seven personal columns blasted GOP candidates or conservative politics. She mocked Herman Cain after his exit from the GOP presidential race, snarking “What will God whisper in Herman Cain’s ear next?” Another of her columns attacked evangelicals who voted for Gingrich as being hypocrites – despite the fact that she herself broke up her current husband’s marriage. Quinn pushed similar stances in “On Faith’s” Under God section, advancing in one column the notion that Mary Magdalene was Jesus Christ’s lover.

Like Quinn, the regular “On Faith” bloggers are reliably liberal. One post by Anthony Stevens-Arroyo (who in 2008 compared American George Patton and Alvin York to Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hasan), was titled “Christmas Means the Redistribution of Wealth,” and argued that the spirit of Christmas was best embodied by liberation theology. Snide comments towards conservatives are common fare at “On Faith.” Openly gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson huffed that “Rick Perry would be pathetic, if he weren’t so infuriating” for his stance on homosexuality. Susan Jacoby, writing for the column “The Spirited Atheist,” mocked “the size of Newt Gingrich’s head” in a post otherwise unrelated to American politics. 

Rev. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, a minister of the United Church of Christ and a senior fellow at the Soros-funded Center for American Progress, penned 17 articles in the 2 month period CMI examined, more than any other “On Faith” blogger. But Thistlethwaite’s Christianity is one of ambivalence: in August 2011, Thistlethwaite blamed Christianity for influencing Anders Brievik to commit murder after the Oslo shootings.

Her posts exude a blend of ridiculous pseudo-Christian theology and liberal political spin. In one post, she claimed that Jesus would have supported the Occupy Movement, even declaring that “Jesus was [emphasis hers] an Occupier.” Often, her posts are transparent anti-GOP rants with little to no religious connection, such as her comparison of Newt Gingrich to the Grinch in which she asked “Is it the Grinch who stole Christmas, or the GOP?”

“On Faith” interviewed prominent liberals such as Cornel West and Russell Simmons, giving them forums to spew their talking points on matters such as Occupy Wall Street and the Lowe’s “All-American Muslim” controversy. By contrast, “On Faith’s” interview with “outed” conservative Christian bisexual Ted Haggard highlighted the scandal of his outing, noting that he “just wanted to die” after being exposed.

Only one of “On Faith’s” regular bloggers, Jordan Sekulow, holds a traditional Christian conservative political view. But, lest readers be caught unaware by orthodoxy, Sekulow’s section is helpfully labled “Religious Right Now.” However, left-wing hack Anthony Stevens-Arroyo’s blog is simply titled “Catholic America.” A more suitable name might be “Liberal Democrat Catholic America.”

The Washington Post’s editorial page reflects a left-liberal point of view. It is not surprising, that “On Faith” is often little better than religiously cloaked liberalism, considering the political predispositions of its editor.

To liberals, religion is not at its heart concerned with the service of God; rather it is a vehicle for the intertwined liberal gospel of Democratic politics and “social justice.”

The Washington Post’s “On Faith” blog reflects that liberal view of religion – and excludes the traditional view of religion.


 The Culture and Media Institute examined 149 “On Faith” posts from these columns: Sally Quinn’s personal column, “Catholic America,” “For God’s Sake,” “Georgetown/On Faith,” “Guest Voices,” “Religious Right Now,” “The Spirited Atheist,” and “Under God.” CMI examined “On Faith” during the 2 month period December 1, 2011 to January 31, 2012.