Last week, faith leaders delivered petitions signed by 114,000 people to Alabama Pubic Television headquarters in Birmingham objecting to the station’s plan to air right-wing pseudo-historian David Barton’s propagandic documentary series about America’s founding.
The petitions were coordinated by Faithful America and Credo Action and delivered by local pastors Revs. Darryl Kiehl and Shannon Webster as well as Southern Poverty Law Center Senior Fellow Mark Potok.
Watch the delivery:
Barton is founder and president of WallBuilders, which describes itself as “an organization dedicated to presenting America’s forgotten history and heroes.” But, as Potok described, Barton is not a historian; he’s “an extremist of the radical right,” who “says that gay people should be sent to prison [and] claims that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated American government at all levels.”
The Alabama Educational Television Commission’s campaign to get Barton’s highly inaccurate documentary on the air has begun to resemble an ideological purge — APT fired two executives after they refused to broadcast the series. The majority of the APT’s private-sector funding board resigned in protest.
“As a Christian and a pastor,” Rev. Kiehl said at delivery, “I have always trusted public television as a source of reliable information about history and culture. I’m disappointed that APT is even considering broadcasting David Barton’s slanted, misinformed history of America. Since our nation’s founding, Christians have fought for justice, equality and the common good, and Barton’s work appears to ignore that. His revisionist history is unworthy of public television.”
Yesterday, local Catholics in Peoria delivered the petition with 23,000 signatures to Bishop Jenky’s diocesan offices expressing their disappointment with their bishop’s extreme rhetoric.
Watch this report on the delivery from local Fox affiliate WYZZ:
Unfortunately, Bishop Jenky’s office continues to refuse to apologize, insisting instead that his remarks have been “ misconstrued, distorted and misunderstood.” Here are Bishop Jenky’s remarks so you can judge for yourself:
Remember that in past history other governments have tried to force Christians to huddle and hide only within the confines of their churches like those first disciples before the Resurrection locked together in the Upper Room.
In the late 19th century, Bismark waged his “Kulturkamf,” a culture war against the Roman Catholic Church, closing down every Catholic school and hospital, convent and monastery in Imperial Germany. Clemenceau, nicknamed “the priest eater,” tried the same thing in France in the first decade of the 20th Century.
Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services, and health care.
In clear violation of our First Amendment rights, President Obama – with his radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda, now seems intent on following a similar path.
Kennedy, the wife of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, was originally scheduled to be the Catholic college’s commencement speaker this year, but her invitation was rescinded after pressure from Bishop McManus — who has refused to offer examples of his objections or even meet with Mrs. Kennedy.
Bishop McManus’s actions stand in stark contrast to the approach taken by his colleague Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who has made no attempt to prevent Mrs. Kennedy from speaking at the commencement ceremonies of Boston College Law School next month.
Perhaps that’s because Cardinal O’Malley has seen firsthand the kind of ugliness this Catholic witch-hunting leads too. When the Cardinal chose to preside over Sen. Kennedy’s funeral in 2009, he was attacked by right-wing Catholics and organizations who wanted to use the tragedy to advance culture war fights about abortion. His response, calling for more civility among Catholics, is just as appropriate today.
In that interview, Matthews initially protested but ultimately admitted that “you may be right. I may agree with you, but not right now.”
Yesterday, Matthews was asked again about the problem, and he expanded on those concessions:
MATTHEWS: Why don’t you think I should have him on my show?
Q: You said that you wouldn’t have Franklin Graham on your show earlier this year because he tells hateful lies and I was wondering if you thought that was a different standard.
MATTHEWS: Well you got to make your case, you know. I talked about this with my producers last night and we’re trying to decide how to deal with it. My view is I don’t like censoring opinion and Tony Perkins has been on this show and he hasn’t said something like that on my show, he doesn’t talk like that on Hardball.*
Q: Do you think it gives him credibility when he’s on Hardball though, for what he says off Hardball?
MATTHEWS: You know I think that’s an argument — that’s a good argument. I’m thinking about it. You’re doing the right thing, you’re doing the right thing keep it up. You know where I stand on the issues that I care about, you know. And I’m probably with you on these issues but I got to think it through.
In what will likely come as a disappointment to the right-wing activists who have been celebrating Matthews’s comments as an endorsement of their “right” to spread lies on TV, Matthews clearly indicates that he’s taking these concerns seriously, doesn’t have a good answer, and has already begun conversations with his producers about it.
Faithful America, GLAAD and the other organizations and individuals who are working to educate the media about the problems with hosting spokespeople who tell hateful lies should take this as a sign that they’re making real progress and should keep up their efforts.
*As before, Matthews seems to have forgotten about his November 2010 show in which Perkins specifically cited debunked research to claim that gay men are more likely to molest children.
Responding to Catholic Bishop Robert McManus’s decision to bar Vicki Kennedy, the wife of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, from speaking at Anna Maria College’s graduation ceremonies, Faithful America has launched a new petition asking the Bishop to reverse this latest contribution to the commencement culture wars.
Vicki Kennedy is a faithful Catholic and an important public voice who deserves the opportunity to speak at Anna Maria College. Catholic universities shouldn’t be a battleground for partisan witch-hunts and censorship.
The campaign has already attracted over 13,000 signatures.