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On Fox & Friends: Fr. Jonathan Morris Chides Charlie Rangel For Invoking Jesus

Reported by Priscilla - July 11, 2011 -

Despite America being a religiously diverse nation, Fox News employs one member of the clergy to provide a religious perspective to current events - a conservative Catholic priest, Father Jonathan Morris. Maybe it's a "quid -pro-quo" because Rupert Murdoch was given a *Catholic "papal" knighthood ("Knight Commander of St. Gregory) for kicking in big bucks to an education fund run by the Los Angeles Diocese and a fund to build a nice, big cathedral. Maybe it's because the right wing is seeking to win back those Catholics who vote Democratic. Maybe it's because today's Catholic Church has become a conservative institution less concerned with the poor than with fighting against women's reproductive and gay rights - issues that put them squarely in the patriarchal right wing congregation. Who knows? What I do know is that the boyish Father Morris, in addition to his Sunday gig on Fox & Friends, appears on other shows where he's always willing to preach the gospel of supply side Jesus. While yesterday's propaganda wasn't as overt as it can be, Father Morris and the three members of the congregation were certainly doing, if not the "Lord's work," they were doing Fox's bidding.

Dave Briggs framed the issue. He said that a "controversial lawmaker has injected religion into the debate over the debt ceiling." He played the video of Rep. Rangel asking "what would Jesus do this week-end" and saying "there has to be some feeling that the vulnerable people in the USA are going to be hurt." Rangel also noted that the political decisions are "moral decisions." An excited Morris (With his flair for the dramatic, it's fitting that his parish is near Broadway!) did his best jazz hands and gasped that "it gives us great fodder for TV, doesn't it?" Morris did agree with Rangel's question of what Jesus would do in this situation and that these political decisions are "moral, ethical issues." But then the agitprop began. Morris squirmed as he said that Rangel "went off the rails" when he said that "his political choice is a moral absolute." (Of course, if Rangel were speaking against abortion, that would be a moral absolute so go figure). Morris did cite what he thought were "moral absolutes" such as slavery. He was animated when he said "but when you come down to prudential decisions about whether or not the best way to take care of the poor is to increase the debt limit, be careful to say 'God is on my side'." Mike Jerritt said that he always asks Jesus what he wants him to do. Morris said that we should be asking that "even on the tough issues" and Rangel gets it right but "you can't tell everyone, that is absolutely God's will." (According to Morris' religious leaders, abortion and gay marriage are moral absolutes.)

Ainsley Earhardt tossed Morris the scripted agitprop question when she asked him "what is the right thing to do" about the debt ceiling. Morris said that we should take care of the poor but the question is "how to do that." He then worked in, albeit in a subtle manner, the right wing propaganda about how it's not really government's job to take money from people (code for taxes) in order to help poor people. He said that Dave has two kids in a world of poor people and "Is the right thing to do is for you to take all your money and give it all to the poor today?" (WTF - the government is taking "all" our money for the poor?) "Maybe not." Earhardt chimed in "he has to take care of his family." Morris said "there are lots of competing interests." (Right like big business, big oil, the Catholic Koch brothers...) A true theologian, Earhardt said that "God wouldn't want us to be in debt." Morris said that the question is "what is the best way to achieve the right means, not only taking care of the poor, yes; but also taking care of the future of our children, grandchildren and our country." He noted that this is the job of politicians but religious principals can help a lot."

Comment: I think the main message for this segment was to slam Charlie Rangel while working in a few right wing talking points about taxes and "welfare." It's ironic that while Republicans can invoke Jesus to score points (Michele Bachmann talks to Jesus), Rangel gets dissed for "injecting" Jesus into a discussion about something that Jesus did speak about. While Morris' propaganda wasn't in your face, the messages on his Facebook appear to show that it had an effect. Go in peace, thanks be to Fox.

*A British Catholic blogger is questioning whether, in light of the recent Murdoch empire scandal, his knighthood should be rescinded. What say you, Father Morris?

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