Yesterday in New York, Faithful America members and faith leaders including Bishop Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, gathered at MSNBC studios to deliver 20,000 signatures calling on the network to stop inviting hate group leader Tony Perkins onto their news programming.
MSNBC sent down representatives to accept the petitions but remained non-committal about their willingness to change their policy.
Here’s video of their delivery combined with footage of Perkins on MSNBC:
Last month, Faithful America launched a petition calling on MSNBC to stop inviting Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and other FRC spokespeople on its network to represent Christians.
Since the start of the campaign, over 20,000 people of faith have signed on. Unfortunately, MSNBC has not only failed to stop booking Perkins, they’ve gotten worse — inviting him to appear a staggering 11 times already this year.1
Today at 11am, Faithful America members are upping the ante. Joined by Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson and local New York clergy, they’ll deliver their petition signatures to MSNBC representatives and hold a press conference outside network headquarters in Rockefeller Plaza.
The faith leaders will confront MSNBC about its decision to continue booking spokespeople from an organization that has been officially designated as a hate group for its history of spreading false, hateful claims about the LGBT community and challenge the network to find other guests more representative of the broader Christian community.
Joining Bishop Robinson at today’s event are:
Rev. Jacqui Lewis, Senior Minister, Middle Collegiate Church, New York, NY Rev. Michael Ellick, Minister, Judson Memorial Church, New York, NY Rev. Chloe Breyer, Executive Director, Interfaith Center of New York Rev. Earl Kooperkamp, Pastor, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, New York, NY
The Family Research Council is a hate group, and journalists ought to treat it as such. MSNBC must stop inviting Family Research Council spokespeople on the air to represent the views of Christians and other people of faith.
Unfortunately, Buchanan wasn’t MSNBC’s only problematic regular contributor. As Media Matters has tracked, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins has appeared on the network 18 times in the past year alone–almost as often as he’s gone on Fox News.
Speaking on MSNBC, Perkins has falsely claimed that “the research is overwhelming that homosexuality poses a danger to children,” and another FRC official has called for criminalizing homosexuality.
In other contexts, FRC officials have:
Written that “one of the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the ‘prophets’ of a new sexual order”;
Alleged that gays and lesbians serving openly in the military would commit a greater number of sexual assaults on heterosexual service members, and that members of Congress who vote to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” would have “the blood of innocent soldiers on their hands”;
Attacked anti-bullying programs in public schools, describing them as a way of “indoctrinating impressionable school children.”
In response, Faithful America has launched a petition calling on MSNBC to “stop inviting Family Research Council spokespeople on the air to represent the views of Christians and other people of faith.”
Just as racist rhetoric has no place in the media, people who tell lies about our LGBT neighbors should not be baptized as credible Christian messengers, particularly for a network built on progressive viewers. MSNBC should continue its move to improve its contributor rolls by keeping FRC off its shows.
Before Christmas John rightly took Cardinal Francis George to task for suggesting there were similarities between the “Gay Liberation Movement” and the Ku Klux Klan. Among other things, John said
The cardinal’s persistent question – who is the enemy? – speaks volumes about a disturbing strain of Catholicism in public life these days. It’s the quivering voice of a fearful Church that sees itself as a victim, not a reconciler, the voice of institutional callousness drowning out compassionate humanity, a Church eyeing enemies around every corner. I hope the Church I worship in and love is still too full of grace, justice and mercy to embrace that shrunken, embittered posture.
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune yesterday, George apologized. Instead of just offering the PR-calibrated “I’m sorry if anyone may have been hurt by what was said” type of quasi-contrition, the Cardinal actually confirmed the substance of John’s critique. From the Tribune story:
“When I was talking, I was speaking out of fear that I have for the church’s liberty and I was reaching for an analogy which was very inappropriate, for which I’m sorry,” George said. “I didn’t realize the impact of what I was saying. … Sometimes fear is a bad motivation.
…George said although church teaching does not judge same-sex relationships as morally acceptable, it does encourage the faithful to “respect everyone.”
“The question is, ‘Does respect mean that we have to change our teaching?’ That’s an ongoing discussion, of course. … I still go back to the fact that these are people we know and love and are part of our families. That’s the most important point right now.”
While I still wish the Cardinal would go further in renouncing his hateful rhetoric, credit where credit’s due. Time will tell, but perhaps George has learned an important lesson.
Media Matters has an important new report about the alarming frequency with which leaders of the Family Research Council appear on cable news shows. You might ask why that’s a big deal. As the report spells out, it’s because FRC regularly traffics in false, demonizing rhetoric about the LGBT community.
Since being designated a hate group by the highly respected Southern Poverty Law Center in November 2010, FRC staff have appeared on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC 52 times. Only two of those segments mentioned FRC’s designation as a hate group. (Despite FRC’s claims to the contrary, the SPLC designation stated “Viewing homosexuality as unbiblical does not qualify organizations for listing as hate groups.”)
A few notable hateful, misleading claims by FRC leaders cited in the Media Matters report:
The “It Gets Better” Project is a disgusting and “part of a concerted effort to persuade kids that homosexuality is okay and actually to recruit them into that ‘lifestyle.’”
“The ‘Research is Overwhelming’ that gay men are more likely to molest children.”
“Senators Who Vote For [Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell] Repeal Will Have ‘The Blood Of Innocent Soldiers On Their Hands.’”
In addition to these examples, we’ve also noted FRC’s willingness to make inflammatory false claims on a variety of issues, such as:
Having diverse viewpoints in the news media is important. But so are accuracy and credibility. Giving FRC an elevated platform in the public debate on critical issues implicitly extends to them an image of honesty and integrity they simply do not deserve. Kudos to Media Matters for so thoroughly cataloguing this problem.