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Bill Hemmer & Fr. Jonathan Morris Bear False Witness Re Obama’s Christianity?!

Reported by Priscilla - October 3, 2010 -

Despite the Pew statistic that 23% of our population is Catholic, Fox News has one clergy person on staff and he is a Roman Catholic priest, Father Jonathan Morris who is always willing to belly up to the news desk with an affirmation of whatever right wing talking point Fox is pushing. It’s interesting that, with regard to clergy, Fox doesn’t seem to be an equal opportunity employer; but maybe Morris’ presence is payback, to the Vatican, for his having been made a “Knight of St. Gregory” for kicking big bucks into the coffers of the Los Angeles diocese. For whatever reason, Morris does get some pretty face time. On Tuesday of this week he was interviewed by Megyn Kelly, ostensibly about Obama’s call to clergy to promote health care reform. The subtext, however, was the dissing of health care which Morris suggests that we can’t afford and which might be as bad as all those bad European countries that have national health care. The next day, the good Father popped up on Catholic Bill Hemmer’s “America’s Newsroom” where he discussed Obama’s recent comments that he was “Christian by choice.” While it was only a part of Obama’s “backyard town hall,” Hemmer claimed that “it dominated” the event. And thus began Hemmer’s homage to yet another way that the right wing is trying to delegitimize Barack Obama. Along with the questions about Obama’s birthplace and “socialism,” a meme that is constantly being promoted by Glenn Beck, the newest narrative of Obama being “different” from “real Americans” is that his Christianity is suspect. As the mouthpiece for the anti-Obama rightwing, Fox “News” (and Bill Hemmer’s show is part of the “news” line-up) is always willing to aid and abet in advancing anti-Obama memes. In this case, Fox’s hired priest was there to facilitate Hemmer’s “questions” and an actual lie about how Obama is “different.” Oh, bless me father for I have sinned!!!!

Hemmer played Obama’s response to a question about his path to Christianity. After Morris opined that Obama’s response was “pretty good,” the requisite agitprop began. Morris dramatically claimed “it’s not how the average Christian would answer that question.” He claimed that the “average” Christian wouldn’t say that they were attracted to Christianity by its precepts (actually most Christians are “born” into it) and added “who’s going to fall in love with Christianity because of its precepts.” (Who would, indeed!!) Agitprop point #1 – Obama’s “Christianity” is different from yours. He continued his little homily that Christianity is about “falling in love with Jesus as a person.” (Hmmm, my Catholic upbringing was all about the rules of the church which, if broken, incurred a black mark on the celestial report card.) Morris asserted that Obama’s affirmation of faith was deliberately crafted (“a purposeful response”), by the White House, to counter the belief, held by many, that Obama is a Muslim. To Hemmer’s question of what Obama’s words meant, Morris said “this is the way he approaches Christianity.” He continued that “we’re not judging his heart” but asking “what did he say.” He then promoted Agitprop point #2, when he, breathlessly, said that “the fact that he has not chosen a church after two years in Washington, also says something.” Exonerating himself from a charge of bearing false witness, Morris damned with faint praise with “far be it from me to say he’s a bad Christian; but this does say something.” Hemmer showed video of Obama’s recent trip to church which Hemmer said was, according to their research, the 4th church trip. Hemmer either lied or hadn’t done his research when he said “in modern day politics, he’s the first president that has chosen not to go to church every week.” Wrong, Bill. George W Bush “frequented the chapel at Camp David and ultimately chose not to formally join a church in Washington during his eight years in the White House.” Presidential scholar Matthew Burger states "For the modern presidency, it is not the norm that a president attends church regularly.” Burger also says that both George W and “George H.W. Bush, were both "frequent attendees" at local churches but did not formally join a D.C. congregation.” Ronald Reagan, a Republican saint, “did not attend church in Washington much, citing the complications of making a congregation deal with the security screening of parishioners.” Hemmer claimed that Fox has “hours of tapes” of past presidents going to church. Morris said that he’s glad Obama isn’t going to church because it “would be a show;” but then added “it does say something about the way he views reality…and it’s helpful to know where our president stands.” He ended with a comment about how discussion of faith is a good thing. Hemmer said “you’re the expert on it.”

Comment: Yep. Father Morris has been a priest for eight years so he’s an “expert.” One would think that in the NY area, Fox could find other clergy – even more experienced Catholic priests. But one thing is for sure, in America’s Catholic Newsroom, this “Father” knows best about how Obama has failed the right wing religious litmus test.


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