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Fox News’ Father Jonathan Morris On “Mosque” – “No Absolute Right To Religious Liberty”

Reported by Priscilla - October 3, 2010 -

Although it has dropped off the radar, for now, the “Ground Zero Mosque” was a big story for Fox News. Much of the Park 51 commentary, by Fox guests and some “opinion” news show hosts (Brian Kilmeade comes to mind), was very negative and fed the meme that Murdoch’s NY Post and Islamophobe Pam Geller initiated. As Fox’s hired priest, Father Jonathan Morris’ official role is to provide a religious perspective for issues, I was curious to see if he had weighed in on the “mosque.” And sure nuff, he and Megyn Kelly had a conversation about it back in August – a conversation in which Morris provided the requisite right wing talking points, albeit it in his soothing, “pastoral” tone. It’s interesting. I recall that there’s some biblical quote about not “serving two masters.” Morris seems to serve both his church and Fox News quite well. But then again, that his is the only consistent clergy presence on Fox “News” shows that there might be less than six degrees of separation between Murdoch and the Vatican, so it’s all good!

As her jumping off point, for the ensuing discussion, Kelly spoke of how NY Governor Paterson and NY Archbishop Dolan are hoping to work together to facilitate moving the “mosque.” (While Kelly did refer to it as an Islamic cultural center, the chyrons had “mosque.”) She introduced Morris, sporting a George Michael facial hair look, as her “friend.” (Note, Kelly is a Roman Catholic who wasn’t able to get her first marriage annulled. In March, she was trying to find a church to baptize her child because the father, her second husband, is Presbyterian. Wonder if Megyn was able to cough up the “scarole” to smooth out that problem with the archdiocese?) Morris said that the archbishop had stayed out of the conflict for a while (agitprop point #1) “but President Obama got into it in the White House and it quickly became a national issue…” (Thank you Fox News) He said that the conversation is good as long as civility is maintained. On cue, Kelly mentioned that “70%” opposition to the mosque and how “it doesn’t help the debate by calling them racists or anti-Islam.” No mention was made of those who do engage in ugly Islamophobia. Morris launched into the main agitprop message when said that there was a “false dichotomy” in that “you support religious liberty and let them build the mosque wherever they want or else you say, move the mosque.” He continued “that while Mayor Bloomberg tried to take the higher ground of religious liberty, religious liberty also has its limits. There’s no such thing as an absolute right to religious liberty. It doesn’t mean that because I have religious liberty, I can worship wherever I want.” (Uh, Father, that might be what the Vatican says; but it’s not what our Constitution says.) He claimed that with religious liberty comes “responsibility to respect.” (Hey, Padre, does that mean that Catholic churches should not be built near playgrounds?) Morris asserted that because “families have suffered, there is a sensibility that should be respected.” (Hey, Padre, the Jews suffered as a result of anti-Semitism promoted by the Catholic Church, so should we not build Catholic churches near synagogues?) He recommended moving the center or making it a place for interreligious dialogue. But what’s going on is not quite that.”

Kelly provided even more agitprop when she blamed the tension on Obama. She referenced how there was “passion” on both sides of the issue because, “some would say, in part, because our president did weigh in on it.” Morris agreed and said that “no-one is doubting that this group of Muslims has a legal right to have this but also society and communities have a responsibility to protect the common good and to say is this going to be helpful for our community.” (So does that mean that those who fought for the desegregation of the South should have tempered their protests because the “common good” (racism) wasn’t being served? He said that while there will always be people “throwing things at each other,” it’s up to Paterson, Dolan, the Imam, and Muslims “to act like leaders.”

Comment: “No absolute right to religious liberty!” Given that the Roman Catholic church traditionally allied itself with the rich, ruling elites and was never happy about secular democratic movements, including that of the United States of America, Morris’ comment isn’t surprising. One assumes, however, that he wouldn’t have the same take on a protest over the building of a Catholic church. I don’t know about the wine; but Father Jonathan Morris sure is carrying the water for Fox “News.”