Was Jesus a Liberal or a Conservative? Some people answer “neither” because he is supposed to transcend human labels … but this view is a little contradictory because Jesus was the incarnation of God into human flesh, and if that was the case, then shouldn’t we assume that he also adopted human qualities as well? The question of Jesus’ orientation is nevertheless explored more in depth in the new book: “Jesus Was a Liberal.” The media, nevertheless, would have you believe that Jesus was a staunch right-wing conservative even though there are many Christians that see through the current so-called conservative “culture of life” because it often contradicts itself when it refuses to promote a true all-encompassing culture of life, that is, one that celebrates and protects the human condition in all of its facets: through social programs that follow the teachings of Jesus to combat poverty, promote compassion and empathy, and protect God’s creation (to agressively combat such threats to our environment-like global warming and offer everyone Universal Healthcare).
Perception in the media most of the time trumps reality … in fact so much so that perception at some point becomes so pervasive that it starts to influence and define reality. In the United States, religion has become a topic of division, mainly because it has been hijacked by its portrayal in the hands of who dominates our corporate media: the conservative right-wing.
The conservative right-wing media has been extremely successful at dominating the dialogue in mass communication. One perfect example is how they have been incredibly successful at perpuating the myth that the media has a “liberal bias”, when in fact the opposite is true: for the most part, mass media has a CONSERVATIVE bias, which continues to persist to this day.
Point in case is the way that religion is portrayed in the corporate media. “Religious values” to the media talking heads has come to mean a very narrow set of issues: “anti-abortion” and “anti-gay” (by the way, the Bible never even talks about abortion and Jesus himself never even mentioned anything about gays-the only mention of it is some vague mention in the Old Testament, which according to Christianity, was rendered invalid by the advent of the New Testament). This has come to be because of a concerted behind-the-scenes strategy through political manipulation from the right-wing think-tanks. Yet, there is hardly any mention that for many Americans who identify themselves as “religious”, those issues are not really that important to them-in fact, issues such as social and economic justice are far closer to their hearts. However, right-wing think-tanks, their corporatist sponsors, and their media talking head enablers are not all to blame.
The left-wing of this country also bears some responsibility: for many secular liberals, religion has often been viewed as an obstacle to progress and enlightment or as a sign of weakness (never mind that some of the biggest leaps foward in our society have been rooted in religious themes: Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches and organizing tactics were a perfect example of that). Meanwhile, politicans on the so-called “Left” are left with the difficult task of trying to fill in the gaps and get across the message (most of the time in a very awkward manner) that not all religious people are authoritarian conservative but that in fact many are actually liberal and yes, even supportive of the sanctity of love inherent in the concept of Gay Marriage.
Overall, conservative religious personalities such as James Dobson and Pat Robertson and their campaigns get all the attention from the media, and the progressive religious personalities like Michael Lerner or Jim Wallis and their campaigns get almost no attention. Point in case is the recent supposed (if not manufactured) uproar that the media is currently focusing on 24/7: President Obama speaking at Notre Dame. According to right-wing outlets, “Catholics” are supposedly “outraged” that President Obama was scheduled to speak at Notre Dame (because of his defense of pro-choice policies), a Catholic University:
As a Catholic, I really don’t know what’s more offensive: the fact that right-wing religious outlets claim to speak for ALL Catholics (including myself and an overwhelming majority of Catholics that don’t share their views), or the fact that their hypocrisy is just so offensively transparent: the Pope himself gave an Honorary recognition to President Sarkozy, who is a supporter of pro-choice polices … so do you think they will boycott the Pope? Yeah, don’t hold your breath … and if you want to talk about contradictions between the Catholic Church’s teachings and peoples’ practices: how about the support of the American Catholic Conservatives for capital punishment, which is a direct violation of the Catholic Church’s official position … oh and let’s not get into the whole Occupation of Iraq: both John Paul II and the current Pope Benedict have been very critical of America’s military campaigns in the Middle East. But do you think these contradictions are getting media coverage? Nope, not a peep. Instead, we hear carefully-crafted messages about how Nancy Pelosi is not worthy of communion because she supports “abortion rights.”
This is not the first time that a blackout of the progressive religious view has taken place in the media. Back in 2007, a group of progressive Evangelical Christians were arrested for protesting former President Bush’s Occupation of Iraq. This got covered in a few print & online outlets, but it really did not make it to the corporate cable news cycle nor did it get the under-the-microscope intensity that Obama’s speech at Notre Dame got. More recently, the online advocacy community “Faithful America” launched a drive to support Notre Dame’s decision to invite President Obama to speak, but do you think that got any major attention from the media? Nope.
Frankly, I wouldn’t be the least surprised to learn that all this media frenzy was manufactured by the conservative right as a strategic piece in their quest to torpedo Obama’s upcoming nomination of a new Justice to the Supreme Court. Regardless, I am pretty sick and tired of the way the media is portraying religion as a battle between “secularism” and “religiosity”. It is a frame that is manipulative at best and morally bankrupt at worst because it is devoid of meaningful debate. The topic of abortion is the perfect example of how the messaging wars play out, to the detriment of the American public. All we hear in the media is how the “pro-choicers” are in a battle with the “pro-lifers” … but these lables just block us from moving forward on views that recognize that this is more than just a black-and-white issue. It deprives us of views such the one espoused by the Network of Spiritual Progressives on this topic:
“Make [abortion] safe, legal, and rare … And make childbearing safe, economically supported, and surrounded by a loving community that celebrates the mystery and miracle of life and that honors and rewards the parent or parents who have undertaken the difficult and beautiful task of raising children.” -Rabbi Michael Lerner.
So what can you do about all this? Well, for starters, check out the action alert that “Faithful America” has up on their site to support a new way in how we deal and talk about abortion. Click here to visit their site.