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Why Does the Media Hate the Church?

3-31-10 Posted by admin in Blog, Featured Articles, Gallery, Recent Articles 4 Comments

By Deal Hudson

It’s sad to watch the New York Times and the Washington Post, along with MSNBC, attack Benedict XVI.  The story they concocted over the past few weeks, with the help of retired Bishop Rembert Weakland about Rev. Joseph Murphy, is risibly tenuous.

These once-great newspapers trivialize themselves by publishing front-page stories making obvious their chronic disregard of the Catholic Church and, especially, the Pope.  Nothing else but a kind of seething hatred explains their willingness to ignore the canons of credible reporting and comment.

The Church’s staunchest defender in this country is Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, who has been countering this latest attack from the first blow. Donohue calls the New York Times story on Father Murphy the “last straw,” but no doubt there will be more straw to ignite Donohue’s flaming pen.  (And it won’t be from the pages of the Summa Theologiae, which its author deemed as “so much straw” in the hours before his death.)

I asked Donohue, and a number of other experts, the question, “Why does media like the New York Times and the Washington Post hate the Church and the Pope – what’s the source of the animus?”

Donohue replied,  “As I said in today’s New York Times op-ed page ad, it stems from three issues: abortion, gay marriage, and women’s ordination. So, when they can nail the Church on promiscuity, they love it. The goal is to weaken the moral authority of the Church so it won’t be as persuasive on issues like health care.”

Fred Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard, agrees the media wants to weaken the Church.  He echoes what his friend the late Bob Novak used to tell me about the mainstream media; it is “the most secular, liberal group in the country.  The Catholic Church stands for everything you and I believe (though I’m not a Catholic) and for practically nothing the media likes.  But the media cannot ignore the Catholic Church because it is so strong, popular, and enduring.  That leaves the media one avenue of attack: Jump on any mistakes or scandals involving the Church and don’t let go.”

Another Evangelical friend of Catholics, Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, wrote to me that the “lamestream media hates the Pope because he exemplifies the vibrancy and relevance of orthodox faith in today’s society, which many in the press find either alien or deeply troubling.” Reed also views the media as alarmed that for the “once divided Evangelicals and devout Roman Catholics, the Pope is a symbol of a faith-based constituency the media views as hostile to modernity and values-neutral ‘tolerance.’”

Some responses to my question were brief and to the point.  Bishop Robert F. Vasa of Baker, OR wrote saying, “Deal, Jesus told us it would happen:  John 15:18-19.  Looking the passage up I found:  “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (NIV translation).

Another quotation from Scripture came from the founder of Wallbuilders, David Barton, who cited Romans 1: 28-30 to describe what happens to those who directly reject belief in God. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil. . . . (NIV translation).

The philosopher Francis Beckwith, a recent convert to the Catholic faith, located the source of the media’s hatred in “the narrative of secular liberalism.”  “The media doesn’t want to acknowledge that Catholics even have an “intelligent” point of view,” he explained.  “This is why they don’t assess arguments, they seek out scandal in order to demoralize opposition. Given its status as an unquestioned first principle, secular liberalism can not allow a divine foot in the door.”

Russell Shaw, who used to deal with the press on a daily basis as communication’s director of the bishops’ conference, also thinks,  “The people in charge in those places are secularist ideologues who believe they possess the right answers.” Shaw is not particularly sanguine about the outcome of the struggle: “It would be nice to think there’s a happy ending to this story, but I doubt it. Somebody’s got to win in the end.”

The recurring theme in the answers I received was that of two powers, two opposing moral viewpoints, competing for influence. The secular power of the media detests the traditional moral teachings of the Church but does not confront it directly, preferring coverage of scandal to argument.  As Jim Bopp, Jr., general counsel to National Right to Life, wrote to me, “The Pope and the Church are the strongest force making people accountable to traditional moral requirements. It therefore must be destroyed by any means necessary, even though liberals are soft on pedophilia, they are prepared to condemn the Catholic Church for not dealing harshly with them.”

The poet Matthew Arnold wrote in “Dover Beach” about loss of faith that left us on a “darkling plain/Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight.” In this round of attacks on Benedict XVI we are witness to just such a scene. But, as Francis Beckwith reminded me, the Pope knows how to defend his faith. “This scares the crap out of the mainstream media, since it upsets the narrative: only dumb, ill-informed, people disagree with us. The narrative must be sustained at all costs, even if it means engaging in wicked defamation.”

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4 Responses to Why Does the Media Hate the Church?

  1. Neil says:

    John 13: “After he (Judas) took the morsel, Satan entered him….And it was night.”

  2. To unpack this question, the \"media\" represents three groups: reality, diversion, and advocacy. \"Hate\" means more the opposition at an intellectual level, but delight in and working actively for the destruction of the object of hatred. \"Reality\" spans everything from a news blog to an encyclopedia where the media consumer expects either an absence of advocacy or balanced presentation of the several sides of controversy. But reality is so boring, it gets blurred into diversion and advocacy.

    The \"reality\" of reality is that unless it is taxpayer-funded there needs to be advertisers in the picture to make it \"mass communication\" to attract an audience. You attract an audience by being entertaining, or attracting the like-minded in advocacy, or even better in both modes.

    Not every person who is an abortion advocate is also a gay marriage advocate or even a advocate of requiring the Catholic Church to ordain women. But there\’s a uniform code of political opinion maintained in news and editorial offices and it\’s enforced by looking at the trail the internet leaves behind in their blogs and social media as people attempt to enter the media club. You will find the least diversity of opinion in places where the left wants to wear a mask of objectivity.

    They don\’t formally form an anti-Catholic movement, they don\’t need to, it just worked that way. The edge of political, social, and cultural change in the United States always seems to be pointed in the opposite direction of where the Catholic Church is pointing. So it\’s not enough for Catholics to go into a bunker but to push back. How dare we do so. The first people we have to persuade are fellow Catholics who are even now unaware of the target painted on the side of their Church.

  3. kathy Berkowitz says:

    An attack against the Catholic Church is an attack against Christianity in general. I am not Catholic, but I support the Church in the vicious campaign. Of course, I am against sexual abuse of children but as Pat Buchanan noted the Catholic Church has cleaned up its act tremendously. The media hates the Church because it is one segment of the population not completely under its control. I want Catholics to know that they have friends outside the Church.

  4. John says:

    Why does the media hate the Church? Because they refuse to honor any semblance of secularity, because they are convinced that separation between church and state means absolutely nothing, because they are convinced that everyone wants them to impose their own ideals of masses, because they think that they know best, because they think drugs, sex, and violence have more power than their own God. Do Catholics have friends outside of the church? Yes, when they keep their beliefs in side of the Church.

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