Faith in the Public Square; the Glaring Double-Standard

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 20, 2008 | Go to article overview

Faith in the Public Square; the Glaring Double-Standard


Byline: Tara Wall, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Heading into today's Kentucky and Oregon election contests, Barack Obama is focusing on faith - specifically his. Ironically - but predicatably - the media is not; this has a lot to do with the candidate.

In Kentucky, letters and flyers were circulated in churches with an image of Mr. Obama, standing in a church pulpit with a large cross erected behind him. The pamphlet contains the following message: "Faith, Hope, Change. Barack Obama for president. 'My faith teaches me that I can sit in church and pray all I want, but I won't be fulfilling God's will unless I go out and do the Lord's work.' "

It sounds inspiring - inspiration that was not lost on NBC's "Meet The Press" host, Tim Russert, this Sunday. He interviewed former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and asked about Mr. Obama's flyers. Mr. Huckabee said: "I think it's interesting that nobody's jumping on Obama for this very blatant cross in the ad. And I took grief for months, I'm still taking it."

He is dead right. Just a few months ago, Mr. Huckabee was raked over the coals regarding his faith. The now infamous "bookshelf-disguising-itself-as-a-cross" ad that he ran in South Carolina as a televised Christmas message was decried by pundits, pontificators, atheists and the Catholic League as a subliminal message to gullible viewers who might be swayed by Mr. Huckabee's faith. How dare he!

Multiple media outlets pressed Mr. Huckabee on the issue - from FOX News and CNN to the Associated Press. Television hosts Chris Matthews and Mr. Russert were among the biggest accusers. Look at the transcripts (as Mr. Russert so often does with his interview subjects).

First of all, when Mr. Russert referenced Mr. Obama's "faith ad" on Sunday, he described it as: "An attempt, I think, by the Obama campaign to bridge the cultural divide that he is experiencing in West Virginia and Kentucky." Hmm ... how nice and noble . bridging the cultural divide.

But when referring to Mr. Huckabee's Christmas television ad last year, Mr. Russert described it this way: "I want to talk to you about your past as a Baptist minister and your faith ... an ad where you describe yourself as a Christian leader, an ad

where many thought a cross was superimposed" Mr. Huckabee: "Which it was not, it was a bookshelf." The grilling continued: "You went to Liberty University ... [W]here does this leave non-Christians . [M]any Americans believe that you would be imposing your faith belief." Hmm ... no bridge here - except the one Mr Russert seems to be telling Mr. …

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