FRC falsely accuses Member of Congress of ‘religious bigotry’
Earlier this evening the Family Research Council sent out a press release with the headline “FRC Calls On President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Senator Reid to Repudiate Diana DeGette’s Religious Bigotry,” which stated
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins today called on President Obama and Congressional leaders to repudiate comments made by U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) to The Hill’s Michael O’Brien that “religiously-affiliated groups…should be shut out of the process” in the health care debate because of their support for the Stupak/Pitts amendment. She told The Hill, “Last I heard, we had separation of church and state in this country,” she said. “I’ve got to say that I think the Catholic bishops and all of the other groups shouldn’t have input.”
Two problems with that.
1) ) Congresswoman DeGette’s remarks didn’t come from an interview with The Hill’s Michael O’Brien. Rather, they came from O’Brien’s report about DeGette’s appearance on ABC News’s “Top Line” broadcast today.
2) In that Top Line appearance, Congresswoman DeGette said religious groups should have input in the debate.
The Hill has issued a correction of their story. FRC should do the same.
I can understand why FRC would want to rebuke a Member of Congress for claiming that people of faith should be excluded from a political debate. What I can’t understand is sending out a press release calling on the President of the United States and Congressional leaders to denounce a Congresswoman’s “religious bigotry” without even bothering to check what the alleged bigot actually said. That doesn’t take too much effort — all you have to do is watch the video, which is easily found on the ABC News homepage. Accusing a public official of bigotry is serious business, and should be done cautiously, not opportunistically.
Here’s a transcript of the portion of her interview that dealt with religious groups’ role in the healthcare reform debate:
“I gotta tell you, last I heard we had separation of church and state. I don’t think the Catholic bishops are in charge of writing our healthcare bill. I think that they are one of many groups that we should listen to, but in the end they should be concerned that 36 million more people in this country will get healthcare. Many of them are their parishioners.”
…”I’m not going to comment on what happened with the leadership.”
…”I’ve got to say that I think that the Catholic bishops and all of the other groups should have input, but in the end what we need to do is have healthcare for 36 million Americans and not take away rights people have right now to get full reproductive care.”
Video of the interview is available here. Congresswoman DeGette’s segment begins at the -5:53 mark, and the discussion about the bishops begins at the -1:12 mark.