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No Grapevine Whine - Just Fox's Ongoing "Culture War"

Reported by Nancy - December 27, 2005 -

Monday night (12/26), Brit Hume did a special edition of Special Report that he said would focus on the "role of evangelical Christians in public life." This was essentially a follow-up to the special "Religion in America: Church & State" on Dec 18, also hosted by Hume. The biggest segment of this program, however, was devoted to a 2-part interview with author Bruce Feiler, who emphasized the distinctly un-Foxian themes of peace, tolerance, understanding & coexistence among different religions.

The program opened with an overview (7 mins) of some megachurches by Molly Henneberg, with emphasis on the New Life megachurch in Colorado Springs CO. According to Henneberg, a poll shows that 37% of Americans identify themselves as evangelicals, while 59% do not. Henneberg included a clip of President George W Bush.

James Rosen then interviewed (8 mins) Charles Colson. Rosen included both background on Colson ("a committed soldier in the culture wars") & some information about his current activities. Rosen also included a clip of Bush. Colson actually had some interesting things to say about "restorative justice" vs the "law & order" approach, & was "worries about Christianity becoming a commodity, not a way of life" but there wasn't time to explore those issues in depth.

Jonathan Serrie then interviewed (8 mins) former President Jimmy Carter. Unfortunately, I was taping the re-broadcast of the program, which was interrupted only 2 minutes into the interview for an ALERT! that the Miami serial rapist suspect had been recaptured; the program went live to Miami police press conf for the next 6 mins, & returned to the Serrie-Carter interview with only time for Serrie to say "thanks" & "Merry Christmas."

Major Garrett then interviewed Bruce Feiler, author of "Where God Was Born." This was a very lengthy interview, with the first part taking approximately 9 mins & the second part approx 7 mins. During all that time, Garrett never mentioned that the book is published by William Morrow, which is owend by FNC's parent, News Corp.

Garrett tried valiantly to turn this into a religious & cultural war scenario ("searching for a larger truth in a post 9/11 world") but Feiler resisted, emphasizing -- of all things! -- tolerance & understanding. He said, for example, that his favorite line in the Bible is Genesis 1 (which he quoted as "let us make humans in our image") & that to him this means that "to dispespect another human is to disrespect God." Feiler also pointed out that "one of reasons the Bible is so powerful" is that it "reflects the violence-peace struggle." He cited Abraham's violence towards his own family, & said that if Abraham's sons could forgive him "that's a model" for how we can achieve peaceful coexistence. When Garrett asked about monotheism being one of the "worst ideas" in terms of generating violence, Feiler pointed out that "monotheism has the potential to be used for great destruction & great harmony." He added that many of us were taught not to "talk about politics & religion in public" but said that "extremists do speak out, so we who believe in tolerance have to speak out too" because "you cannot just cede Scripture to extremists."

Feiler even pointed out that Cyrus the Great was the only non-Israelite accorded the title of "Messiah" in the Bible, for his promulgation of religious tolerance (thus correcting Hume's error, which I had previously pointed out). He also used the distinctly "PC" (according to Fox) term "BCE" when speaking of dates in the Old Testament.

The last few minutes of the program were devoted to informal videos the "behind-the-scenes" staff at FNC saying variations of happy holidays, including "Merry Christmas" & "Happy Hannukah" & "best wishes" & "happy holidays" & "season's greetings."

Comments: Feiler was actually a *very* interesting guest, & here's a link to reviews of his book at Amazon, for anyone who might be interested in reading it.

Unlike the previous Sunday special, which used Roman Catholic iconography to illustrate the program & gave a great deal of air time to William Donohue, this program focused exclusively on Protestant "evangelicals" in the first 3 segments. Feiler was more ecumenical.

If you'd like to complain to Fox about this, email: special@foxnews.com

NOTE TO READERS: Please stay on topic (any of the topics discussed or people interviewed during this program; I'd particularly appreciate feedback from anyone who has read any of Feiler's books). O/T comments will be deleted. Thanks.