NewsBuster’s Major Fail on Obama Religion and Church Attendance

NewsBusters is the media watchdog site out to save the world from all the liberal media conspiracies. That mission statement is like saying sugar companies are on a mission to make people thinner. The uber right-wing bootlickers of  conservatism at Newsbusters travel in more factless conspiracy theories and sleazeball punditry than Glenn Beck could hit with a laser guided chalk board. WaPo Laments False Rumor Obama’s a Muslim: He’s Been a ‘Diligent and Personally Committed’ Christian?

But what’s really shaky is the story’s accuser, Obama “faith adviser” Joshua DuBois, trying to tout how the president is deeply, “diligently” Christian, when the president is much more diligent at golfing than he is at church attendance. The number of Sunday church services Obama has attended since the Inauguration doesn’t get beyond counting on one hand, even bypassing the pews at Christmas.

Last time I read the Constitution it said Americas are guaranteed the right to worship as they please. That included going or going going to the house of worship of one’s choice. Clearly NB has made church going a litmus test. if you don’t attend church – one of which the Right has final say is a worthy church – than you’re not a good Christian, not a good patriot and cannot be a good president. Can we get an amen for that. According to the rules – and conservatives are the only one allowed to make the rules – Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were sucky fake Christians and patriots. While that might be true, I’m not saying it, I’m just going by the rules laid out by the ever so humble Cons who make the rules. Politico article on Obama’s recent church attendance ignored Bush’s sporadic attendance as president

* In a November 17 article, the Associated Press’ Matthew Barakat reported  that Obama “could choose, as many presidents have done, not to attend services at all. President George W. Bush, for instance, has only infrequently attended services in Washington, occasionally going to St. John’s [Church, near the White House].”
* In a November 14 article, Time magazine senior editor Amy Sullivan noted that “Ronald Reagan didn’t go to church at all” and reported that while “[t]he Clintons drove down the street every Sunday to Foundry United Methodist … George W. Bush never became a regular member of any local church, preferring to worship most often at the chapel at Camp David.”
* In a November 11 article, The Hill’s Jordy Yager wrote: “President Bush is widely known for his religious beliefs, but for eight years has not frequented a local church, at times citing security concerns.” Yager added that “security does not make regular worship impossible. Both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, for example, attended D.C.-area churches. Clinton’s church, Foundry Methodist Church, installed metal detectors because many tourists attended services on Sunday — some simply to catch a glimpse of the president.”

Reagan kept a diary. It’s release is reviewed here – Reagan on Reagan – and includes some thoughts on his entries about religion,

Reagan’s religion, in turn, comes across as important, but quirky. Entries for early 1981 include references to Armageddon being in the air. Reagan also sets down his strong feelings that the fetus is a living human being and that the Shroud of Turin is authentic. He was obviously bothered by his limited church attendance, especially in the wake of the 1981 assassination attempt, as we can glean from his comments about how “elaborate security measures” made his visits “a hazard to others.” On the quirky side, the 1988 flap over the Reagans’ interest in astrology gave some church groups pause — the Southern Baptist Convention briefly considered withdrawing the speaking invitation it had extended to him — and it must be said that Reagan’s easy dismissal of the astrology question in these diaries is too brief to be convincing.

Ronald and Nancy’s fascination with astrology is always going to be a point of embarrassment for conservatives like NB. Right-wing conservative minister Pat Robertson had this to say about astrology,

Q: Pat, I just wanted to know if astrology and reading your horoscope is wrong. My friends and I started reading them just for fun. I don’t want to do anything against God. Is it wrong if we just read them for fun?

A: Get a concordance and look up astrologer, soothsaying, necromancy, caldeans and some of those other terms. Yes, it’s wrong. It’s like saying, “Well, I have a lion, and I wonder if it’s okay to go into his cage and pet him from time to time.” Well, he might be a friendly lion. On the other hand, he might be hungry, and you’d become dinner. Those things are deadly, and once you open the door into the occult, it’s one crack, and then the next and the next and the next. Of course, you shouldn’t be involved in horoscopes and that kind of activity. It’s unbiblical, and it’s wrong.

To go back to the Reagna diaries for a moment. Newt Gingrich is obviously running for president in 2012. He was not not one of Raygun’s favorites,

Much as he favored tax cuts and spending reductions, he drew a line at supporting zealots in the House of Representatives like Jack Kemp and Newt Gingrich, explaining to himself why he thought their economic proposals were simplistic.

Not much has changed.

From an interview with East Carolina University History Dept. chair Gerald Prokopowicz about his book, “Did Lincoln Own Slaves? And other frequently asked questions about Abraham Lincoln.”   (Pantheon).

Wasn’t he secretly baptized when he was older?

No, nor was he planning to convert to (fill in the church of your choice) on Easter Sunday, 1865, only to be tragically murdered on the preceding Good Friday.

The answers to questions about Lincoln’s church membership are not the ones that most people are hoping to hear. He was never a member of the church you attend, or any church. His religious beliefs were dynamic, complex, and powerful, but not conventional. He wasn’t a Baptist, despite being raised in a Baptist tradition. He wasn’t a Presbyterian, although he attended Presbyterian services much of his adult life. He was not a Catholic, contrary to rumors started by the ravings of Reverend Charles Chiniquy, who published a bizarre diatribe called Fifty Years in the Church of Rome (1886), which accused Catholics of claiming that Lincoln had been born into their Church. According to Mrs. Lincoln, who ought to have known, he was not even a Christian. Many stories have circulated about Lincoln being secretly baptized, or planning to be, but they are all unsubstantiated.

And yet, Abraham Lincoln was in many ways the most deeply spiritual person ever to occupy the White House. In the same 1866 interview with William Herndon where Mary said that her husband “was not a technical Christian,” whatever that might mean, she also said that “he was a religious man always” who “had a Kind of Poetry in his Nature.” Certainly no one who reads the Second Inaugural Address, Lincoln’s profound meditation on God’s role in earthly events and the proper response thereto, can doubt this.

For most of the 20th century, historians tended to respond with dismayed contempt to the public’s desire for a conventionally religious Lincoln. They argued that Lincoln’s real faith was his almost mystical devotion to the Union, and harked back to one of Lincoln’s earliest speeches, in which he called for Americans to make a “civil religion” out of “obedience to the laws.” Lincoln’s many Biblical references in his speeches and writings were treated as metaphor or rhetorical embellishment.

While I doubt Lincoln would have anything to do with the wackos who constitute modern right-wing conservatism and call themselves Republicans; if he were running for office today he would not stand a chance of being nominated with the Right’s fixation on religious litmus tests.

This story is already induced outrage fatigue, but Shaffer adds some humor, Greetings, 18 Percenters! Let’s meet the knucklehead Americans who think Barack Obama is a Muslim.

Don’t these people read newspapers or watch TV? As a matter of fact, many do. According to the poll, 60 percent (PDF) of those who believe Obama is a Muslim also told the pollsters that they learned it from the media. Seeing as I can recall no major or minor media report that presented proof that would convince any sentient creature over the age of 10 that Obama is a Muslim, I’m starting to feel better. The 18 percenters are imagining  things. Non-media sources cited by the poll’s respondents include Obama’s behaviors or own words (11 percent), nonspecific things they’ve heard or read (7 percent), the Internet (7 percent), things heard or read during the presidential campaign (6 percent), Obama’s ancestry (4 percent), and so on.

Over the back fence and water cooler gossip still works. It might originate with Wing Nut Daily or Glenn Beck, but their followers create the echo. Many of them the urban myths wing-nuts just feel that Obama, or whatever Democrat,  is something because they feel it and believe it. Facts are wasted on them. Facts even seems to make them more determined to spread the myth.