The Times’ bias against conservative Christians

By Michelle Malkin

Over the past two months, the New York Times has hammered Republicans for including conservative Christians in the American electoral process:

  • On June 18, reporter David D. Kilpatrick’s story headlined “Bush Allies Till Fertile Soil, Among Baptists, for Votes” ran on page A1.

  • On July 2, Kilpatrick’s story headlined “Bush Appeal To Churches Seeking Help Raises Doubts” ran on page A1.

  • On July 16, Kilpatrick’s story headlined “Citing Falwell’s Endorsement of Bush, Group Challenges His Tax-Exempt Status” ran on page A16.

  • On Aug. 9, Kilpatrick’s story headlined “Churches See an Election Role and Spread the Word on Bush” ran on page A1.

The separation-of-church-and-state watchdogs have been barking rabidly at any sign of politicking or voter registration efforts by Republicans within shouting distance of a house of worship. On July 14, the Times published an editorial headlined “Onward G.O.P. Soldiers” on page A22. The apoplectic editorial writers inveighed against the Bush-Cheney campaign for “buttonholing Christian churches nationwide to serve as virtual party precincts in the Republican drive to turn out voters in November.” The editorial board complained further:

Ministers are being pressed to create registration drives and speak out about ‘all Christians needing to vote.’ The Bush team’s strategy disrespects religion as much as it does democratic ideals. Churchgoers are entitled to a little sanctuary from politicians.

None of this alleged concern about the supposedly undemocratic mixture of religion and politics was evident, however, in the Times’ coverage of former president Bill Clinton’s pulpit demagoguery at the far-left Riverside Church in New York City this past Sunday on behalf of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. Here’s the lead for the front-page article that ran in the Times’ politics section on Monday:

Former President Bill Clinton offered a hard-hitting attack against the Republican Party yesterday, telling worshipers gathered at Riverside Church that President Bush and the Republicans are distorting John Kerry’s war record in Vietnam. “Sometimes I think our friends on the other side have become the people of the Nine Commandments,” Mr. Clinton said. “It is wrong to bear false witness.”

Yup. Before a crowd of 1,500 worshipers in upper Manhattan, Clinton slammed religious conservatives for their stance against homosexual marriage and abortion; attacked President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act (co-sponsored by Democratic Sen. Teddy Kennedy); derided the Bush tax cuts; questioned the Republicans’ “healthy forest” initiative; and ridiculed the expansive Medicare prescription-drug-benefit program passed with support of both parties.

Would a Times reporter have approvingly described a sermon by a conservative preacher taking the opposite stance on the pulpit as “hard-hitting”?

Why didn’t the reporter include the standard alarmist quote from secularist Barry Lynn questioning the tax-exempt status of the Riverside Church?

And, putting aside the unholy spectre of an impeached president shamelessly invoking the Bible to condemn others for lying, where are all the Times’ editorial writers – previously so concerned about protecting the church sanctuary from disrespectful partisan politics – now?

Clinton’s strident Sunday morning visit to the Riverside Church wasn’t just one spontaneous event, but part of a coordinated nationwide campaign called “Mobilization 2004.” The church’s pastor, Rev. James Forbes, has aligned with crockumentary filmmaker Michael Moore, socialist anti-war agitators Code Pink, and liberal Protestant churches bent on booting President Bush out of office. Forbes, who spoke at the Democratic National Convention, has his hands in protest events all week during the Republican National Convention, pushing everything from increased federal spending on hunger and homelessness to single-payer health insurance.

Nevertheless, there have been no in-depth, front-page stories on how Kerry allies are “tilling fertile soil” among left-wing Protestants for votes. No editorials snidely titled “Onward Democrat Soldiers.” And no conspiratorial flow-charts suggesting coordination between Rev. Forbes, the Clintons (Hillary attended the service after attacking Bush on the Sunday morning talk-show circuit) and the Kerry campaign.

The New York Times’ sanctimonious reporters and editorialists loudly declaim the mixture of religion and politics whenever conservative Christians are involved. But when the religious Left brings Democratic partisans to preach to the choir, the church-state separatists in the media are quieter than country church mice. The double standard echoes like a steel trap snapping in an empty cathedral.