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Fox News “Grapevine” Reinforces Persecuted Christian Gospel

Reported by Priscilla - February 8, 2009 -

There is a saying that “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” and “Grapevine” is a stunning example of that aphorism; as it offers short sound-bites on information that is presented as Fox “fact” without analysis or rebuttal. There are “themes” that resonate in the “Grapevine” (anything that disputes global warming is one) and among them is the meme that there is a “war on Christians.” This, obviously, appeals to the religious right whom, one assumes, view Fox News as their media Bible. On Friday night’s (February 6th) “Grapevine” we were treated to a statement that supports the aforementioned theme – a theme that was set in motion by an earlier Fox News article (February 4th) titled “Conservative Groups Declare Obama's Stimulus Bill a War on Prayer.” The first shots are being fired in the Fox/right wing “crusade” against what they see as Obama’s “war on Christians” – yet another right wing whine that, like the bogus “war on Christmas,” reeks of “sour grapes.”

Update - See Media Matters for script and video of Neil Cavuto telling Senator DeMint that "he's right" about the so called religious persecution. There should be no doubt about the demographics of Fox News. Can anyone give me an Amen!

The February 4th article began with a sentence sure to get the pitchfork gang salivating: “Democrats in Congress have declared war on prayer, say conservative groups who object to a provision in the stimulus bill that was passed by the House of Representatives last week. The provision bans money designated for school renovation from being spent on facilities that allow "religious worship." It has ignited a fury among critics who say it violates the First Amendment and is an attempt to prevent religious practice in schools.” Naturally, the head of the religious right Liberty Counsel, Matthew Staver, was quoted at length. The article provided a brief rebuttal (Barry Lynn From Americans United for Separation of Church and State and a sentence summing up the ACLU position) but bookended the article with more commentary (whining) from “The Traditional Values Coalition.” The religious right had already set in motion their pre-emptive strike against the evil Democrats – see People for the American Way’s “The ‘Big Lie’ Strategy: Religious Right Stokes False Fears of Religious Persecution” which details how the religious right “ratcheted up the rhetoric” of a “phony crisis” in advance of Republican Senator Jim DeMint’s amendment to strip church/state protections from the bill and how they spun the resulting defeat of the amendment. The Fox News article was part of a culture war skirmish which even included Fox fave Michelle Malkin who indignately stated, on her blog, that the defeat of the DeMint amendment was another reason not to support the stimulus package.

Always willing to aid and abet the “culture war,” Friday night’s Grapevine began with Jim DeMint’s comments regarding the defeat of his amendment which, clearly, had some church/state problems. The background graphic was vintage Fox agenda driven propaganda – a photo of DeMint aside a Democratic donkey logo with the phrase “lack of faith” (although the positioning of the phrase, under DeMint, could have conveyed the wrong impression!). Brit Hume’s replacement Bret Baier (who if he really wants to emulate Hume, should work on the sneer) reported that “Senator Jim DeMint is accusing his Democratic colleagues of being hostile towards religion.” (Note that the word Republican did not modify “Senator”). Baier stated that “Senators defeated DeMint’s amendment to the economic stimulus bill that would have eliminated language prohibiting colleges from using the funds on buildings used for — as stated in the bill — "sectarian instruction, religious worship or a school or department of divinity." (Note that Baier did not say WHY the amendment was defeated). He then read DeMint’s comments that “this is a direct attack on students of faith, and I’m outraged Democrats are using an economic stimulus bill to promote discrimination... this language is so vague, it's not clear if students can even pray in a dorm room renovated with this funding." That was it – end of story – Democrats hate religion – get it?

Comment: I guess the religious right and Republican Senator Jim DeMint don’t have a problem with “bearing false witness” because their attempts to galvanize the base by demonizing Democrats are a bold, fresh pile of steaming crap. People for the American Way are correct when they say that “stoking fears about anti-Christian “persecution” and claiming that liberal politicians are out to destroy religious liberty” are ways to agitate the “base” and raise money - Fox being a willing partner in this venture. If Fox had bothered to explain the amendment’s defeat, they might have noted that it was considered an “attempt to remove the provision in the economic recovery bill that prohibited the government from providing federal funds to construct or repair buildings used for religious purposes. The Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear that the establishment clause of the first amendment of the Constitution prohibits federal grants to be used for capital improvement of structures devoted to worship or religious instruction.” In other words, the provision in the stimulus bill was about not awarding construction grants for buildings used for religion. It wasn’t about stopping students from praying in their dorms. But when you’re communicating right wing propaganda, who needs those pesky details!

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