In last week’s column, I detailed how an informal cabal that included the local media, Democratic office holders, liberal clergy and self-described “watchdog” groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League conspired to defame, bankrupt and even imprison individuals who flouted the liberal orthodoxy in the Heartland, specifically in Kansas and Missouri.
Informal alliances like these have been more active here than in the bluer states for a specific reason: Their members may control most of the levers of institutional power, but they do not command widespread public support.
By defaming key opponents, the liberal establishment erodes the almost inevitable resistance it would naturally face in advancing its agenda.
In past columns, for instance, I have documented the successful defamation of former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline for daring to enforce the state’s abortion laws. As testament to this success, the campaign against Kline netted The Kansas City Star Planned Parenthood’s national “Maggie” award in 2006.
During the presidential campaign of 2008, Democratic prosecutors and sheriffs in Missouri formed “Barack Obama Truth Squads,” whose purpose was “to respond immediately to any ads and statements that violate Missouri ethics laws.” The local media chose not to notice the transparent intimidation.
Last month, the media did its best to ignore the revelation that the Missouri Information Analysis Center under Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon was slandering third-party supporters as potential domestic terrorists.
This week, The Kansas City Star has renewed its assault on the Kansas City area’s most effective conservative preacher, Jerry Johnston of the First Family Church in the Kansas suburbs.
The agent of this assault is one Judy Thomas. In the last column I spared her name, but it was she who single-handedly alchemized an unprovocative patriotic gathering in Carthage, Mo., into a re-staging of the Nuremberg rally, ruining several reputations along the way.
Thomas began her assault against Johnston and his church with a comprehensive front-page series in 2007. “Perhaps the biggest criticism of Johnston’s church,” the readers learn, “is that members aren’t allowed to see detailed financial information.”
Although Thomas never discovered any financial irregularities, she justified this exhaustive investigative series on the fact that, well, who knows, maybe there might possibly have been some.
Thomas’ reporting abounds in irony. She claims that her attention was attracted by the fact that hundreds of members had bailed out of the church, but she is even more disturbed by the church’s soaring assets and growing membership.
Thomas insists that “the newspaper did not examine Johnston’s religious doctrine or his positions on social issues, only the church’s finances.”
She did not have to, at least not for the series. In 1999, she and James Risen, now of the New York Times, co-authored, “Wrath of Angels,” a book that details, according to one review, the pro-life movement’s “dizzying descent into violence.”
In the course of the book, the authors warn their readers about those evangelicals who have gone to the “barricades” to defend the pro-life movement.
The one local pastor who most prominently manned those barricades is Jerry Johnston. And curiously, out of the hundreds of local pastors, he is the only singled out by Thomas for financial scrutiny. That is not a coincidence. That’s a vendetta.
Certain Democratic preachers on the Missouri side of the state line, including Kansas City’s congressman, the Rev. Emanuel Cleaver, have been engaging in flagrant political shenanigans for a generation without a paragraph of scrutiny from Thomas or the Star.
Despite the lack of evidence, Johnston took a beating from the Thomas articles. To defend himself, he was forced to hire attorneys and even a public relations firm.
This past week, in a textbook illustration of chutzpah, Thomas blasted Johnston in another front-page article detailing the money Johnston had to spend on the attorney and public relations fees that Thomas’ article necessitated.
This article prompted an open letter from First Family’s board chairman, Judge Robert Ulrich. Ulrich had recently retired from the Missouri Court of Appeals where he had served for the past 18 years. For the seven years before that he had served as the United States attorney for the Western District of Missouri.
Having acknowledged Thomas’ “professed views,” Ulrich unflinchingly makes the church’s case.
The pervasive and determined strategy of radicals across our country is to alter traditional values by relentlessly assailing those expressing biblical positions contrary to proponents of a homosexual lifestyle and unceasingly vilifying advocates for the rights of the unborn. Truth is a casualty. The means are everything, and the goal is destruction of the Christian pillars that have stabilized the country for more than two centuries.
After detailing the church’s financial safeguards, and skewering the Star for proceeding without evidence, Ulrich describes the Star’s goal, namely to sow the seeds of doubt.
“Doubt is the author’s poison,” he writes. “Doubt is a toxin that overwhelms reason, pollutes trust and invidiously propagates dissension. The result, destruction of a major local impediment to the sacred causes of the radical left.”
First Family has the wherewithal to survive. Two weeks ago, for instance, the church had the largest Easter crowd in the church’s history.
Thomas, however, has not failed in her mission. Those younger pastors who share Johnston’s view have seen what can happen when one expresses them – even in Kansas City.