THOU SHALT NOT WORSHIP FALSE IDOLS
(BUT AMERICAN IDOL IS FINE)
Worship is, in this country, both a public and a private act of devotion. While many Americans pray privately in their homes, around a dinner table, or before they go to bed, they also worship publicly, in church, at their places of business, on the athletic field, at their local soup kitchen, and, for many, every time they say the Pledge of Allegiance or sing the National Anthem.
But worship of any kind, private or public, gets religious America into serious hot water with the liberal media, which has come to mock and resent public displays of faith, or any acknowledgment of God or religion by the state. The mere suggestion that the country is in fact a Christian one is declared backward, dangerous, and heretical to the Constitution of the United States.
Christmas and Christian holidays, prayer, public references to biblical scripture, the Ten Commandments, “In God We Trust,” one nation “under God,” “God Bless America”—it’s all now subject to ridicule and scrutiny by the liberal press, which has decided, without consulting the citizens of our country (80 percent of whom are Christian), that it’s no longer seemly or appropriate to worship out loud. Their collective distaste for displays of Christian devotion has grown from mild to maniacal in less than a decade, despite the fact that the Christian population in the United States has grown from 159,514,000 to 173,402,000 between 2001 and 2008.1
To be clear, the liberal media has no problem with worship—as long as it’s secular. The media worships a great many false idols in its daily broadcasts, front-page stories, news segments, and online features. The liberal media worships Hollywood and celebrity, breathlessly fawning over Angelina Jolie’s every inconsequential gesticulation or Lindsay Lohan’s less-than-shocking crimes and misdemeanors, or the latest castoff on the 147th The Bachelor. It worships its political demagogues, such as John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Barack Obama, and takes turns propping them up on pedestals so that you may worship them, too. It worships liberalism and all its causes célèbres, such as environmentalism, gay marriage, abortion, and, the ACLU’s newest pet cause, jihadi rights. And, of course, it worships itself, with flashy correspondence dinners, magazine parties, self-satisfying award ceremonies, and giddy self-promotion. During the presidential election, CNN called itself “the best political team on television” as many as fifty times … in a single day.
But worship God? That’s something else entirely. Not only has the liberal media seemingly stripped the word from its lexicon, but when it does bring it up it’s to mock believers or champion the cause of the angry atheist, who, the media promises us, represents the new majority opinion about God and faith—that faith should be banished to the far corners of the earth (Alaska would suffice) so that it is spoken of only in hushed tones in one’s own bedroom. You know, like porn.
As a result of the liberal media’s relentless efforts to shame God to a place on the dusty bottom shelf of modern American civilization, it seems that we now have a president who is taking direct cues from the media’s vow of silence. And for that gift, the gift of God-omission, the liberal media rewards President Obama with positive coverage. Sure as the sun rises and sets, the cycle repeats.
OBAMA DEMOTES CHRISTIANITY,
LIBERAL MEDIA REJOICES
Obama’s first year in office was marked by the kinds of slaps to the faithful that we usually see only during an episode of Real Time with Bill Maher. But they were actually foreshadowed in a speech he gave in San Francisco on the campaign trail, in which he said, “You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for twenty-five years and nothing’s replaced them. And it’s not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or antitrade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”
The comment was shocking both for its sheer stupidity—how did that get past his campaign managers when he was going to the Pennsylvania primary just days later?—and for its alarming classism. Religious Americans bristled at the notion that tough economic times make them “cling” to anything, let alone their faith. And they took particular issue with the idea that “antipathy to people who aren’t like them,” “anti-immigrant sentiment,” and “antitrade sentiment” were somehow equatable with religious devotion. At this moment, which Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton and Republican challenger John McCain both seized on readily, Obama seemed to reveal at best a lack of understanding of American faith, and at worst a real disdain for it. In short, he was in perfect lockstep with the liberal media.
So when he eventually became President Obama, the many continued indiscretions that would follow were swept quietly under the carpet by the liberal press, which saw in him a kindred secular spirit who wouldn’t bore them with God references every other minute like the last guy did. “Finally,” they sighed, “a president who is just as uncomfortable with public worship as we are.”
And on the very day he was sworn in, Obama delivered another slight to religious America when he became the first president in the history of the United States to mention atheists, calling America a nation of, among other things, nonbelievers. He would, over the course of his first year, go on to regularly put nonbelievers on the same plane as the religious faithful. This isn’t just an insult to believers. It should also be an insult to nonbelievers, who so militantly insist they are separate from those kooky God lovers, and intellectually superior to them. Lumping atheists into a group of so-called religious fanatics should be the last thing they want. But it’s also an inaccurate comparison. Equating belief with nonbelief is equating apples and oranges. One implies a moral value system, the other is marked explicitly by the lack of one. That doesn’t mean nonbelievers are immoral, of course, but it does mean they are structurally and intrinsically different entities. The president may as well acknowledge Beatles fans and dog lovers in the same breath if he’s going to acknowledge nonbelievers, for they have as much to do with American values as atheism does.
For that inaugural nod, the country’s self-avowed atheists—all 1.6 percent of them—rejoiced, and the liberal media was there to help them celebrate. Steven Waldman wrote of American atheists in the Huffington Post: “Not surprisingly, they greeted Obama’s inaugural declaration with some surprise and joy.” Waldman then quoted Ed Buckner of American Atheists as saying, “In his Inaugural Address today, President Barack Obama finally did what many before him should have done, rightly citing the great diversity of Americans as part of the nation’s great strength and including ‘non-believers’ in that mix. His mother would have been proud, and so are we.”2
Greg M. Epstein, Harvard University’s humanist chaplain (yes, apparently that’s a real post), similarly gushed in his Washington Post column, “I too was pleasantly surprised to see the President return, after a bit of wandering in recent months, to his previous practice of extending a rhetorical hand to my community in his oratory. As reiterated by my colleagues in the American Humanist Association’s recent ad campaign, Obama is the proud product of ‘parenting beyond belief’—his strong relationship with his Humanist mother S. Ann Dunham makes him living proof that family values without religion build character.”3
It seemed that, despite Barack Obama’s careful insistence during the campaign that he was a devoted Christian, with a simple mention of nonbelievers in his inaugural address atheists were ready to claim him as one of their own—he was living proof that being raised an atheist made him a better person!
And, in case anyone thinks the mention of atheists was a thoughtless or casual inclusion, David Axelrod, his senior adviser, admitted that Obama personally inserted the nonbeliever references into his inaugural speech.4
WAIT, WHERE DID JESUS GO?
The nonbeliever mention was just the beginning of Obama’s courtship of the liberal press, notoriously averse to God-talk.
In April 2009, Obama gave a major address on the economy at Georgetown University, a private Catholic college in Washington, D.C. After the address it was discovered that the White House advance team had asked the school to remove or cover all religious imagery and signage, specifically a monogram symbolizing Jesus’ name in Gaston Hall, where Obama spoke. The school did, in fact, cover the monogram with a piece of black-painted plywood.
The incident caused an uproar among Catholics, who denounced both the Obama administration for making such a demand and the school for conceding. Why did the president choose to speak at the Catholic school if he was going to insist on hiding its religious nature?
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, criticized Obama for asking the school to “neuter itself.” “No bishop who might speak at the White House would ever request that a crucifix be displayed behind him,” he said.5
For America’s Christians, it read as though Obama was uncomfortable with religion, or at the very least wished to dissociate himself from it. Religion scholars of all kinds dissected the moment, interpretin...