Same program, same misinformation

Looks like our buddy Bill O’Reilly has been at it again. (That “it” would be ACLU-bashing. He does it enough that I’ve considered modeling a campaign after Planned Parenthood’s “Pledge a Picketer” campaign. People could pledge a dollar to the ACLU for each lie O’Reilly spouts about us. But I digress.)

This time he’s got the help of Newsweek managing editor Jon Meacham, who is apparently hawking his new book, American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation. I know you will be shocked to find out the arguments used were anything but fair and balanced.

From a transcript of the interview as posted on Media Matters:

O’REILLY: All right. So you’re firmly convinced, based upon your research, that the founders would not approve of the ACLU jihad, pardon the pun, against Judeo-Christian tradition in this country?

MEACHAM: No, I don’t think so at all. I think that what they wanted was religion in the country. They didn’t want it coercive. They did not want it forced on people, because largely for religious reasons. The religious argument for religious freedom is that if God himself did not compel obedience, then no man should try.

O’REILLY: OK, Why did they want religion in the country in the public square, not just the synagogues, and churches?

MEACHAM: Because, as John Adams said, man is by nature a religious creature. Homer said — they were following Homer — that all men need the gods. George Washington clearly understood that the victory in the revolution — he said, “I can only attribute it to the hand of providence.” These were men of intense, private, often complicated faith. Not simple Christianity in many cases.

The funny thing is that Meacham is right about some things: They [the founding fathers] did not want [religion] forced on people….” Exactly. That’s why we do what we do. And we strongly support the right of religion in the public arena – just not religion paid for or sponsored by the government. It’s amazing how difficult this concept seems to be for some people to grasp.

For those of you who’ve had to fight against this straw man, here’s a helpful list of cases the ACLU has taken to defend religious people put together a year or so ago. It’s by no means exhaustive. (Warning: May cause grossly misinformed individuals’ heads to explode.)

4 thoughts on “Same program, same misinformation

  1. This is at the core of this revolution in our country: Christians consider themselves persecuted today because the ACLU and others are finally saying “Stop forcing it on us using the government.”

    For the “Christians” like O’Reilly, religious freedom means that since Christians are the majority in the country, they should be able to do whatever the heck they want to. This isn’t what democracy means, and you’d think anyone past grade school would know that.

    But it’s such a HUGE wash of propaganda that the Christians are under attack, that the “seculars” are in control and are going to kill Easter, that the Christian lifestyle itself is under direct attack… people don’t question what they’re told. They just listen and accept, and thanks to the Internet, the ignorance and intolerance can find an easy home in people’s hearts who are afraid of freedom.

    Ask these people if prayer should be allowed in school, and they’ll say “YES!”

    Ask if Muslim prayers or Buddhist chants should be allowed, and they would yell “HELL NO!”

    So, by saying that NO religion should be advanced over another, they equate it to attacking Christianity.

    They’ve had so many things allowed by the government that technically violate the Constitution for so long, that they’ve just accepted that there’s an implied “except for Christianity” included in there somewhere.

    I don’t hate Christianity. I hate people like O’ Reilly who twist it for their own purposes to oppress the rest of us, and then convince people *we’re* the bad guys.

  2. This is strange. Anytime that I’ve heard Meachem talk about his book, which, granted, has only been on Meet The Press, what he has said always sounded palatable. Unfortunately, O’Reilly has a way of twisting and distorting. Maybe Meachem didn’t want to disagree with the “ACLU jihadist” comment to help sell books.

  3. This is a comment on radatheists comment(ha). Its mainly about you comment on:
    Ask these people if prayer should be allowed in school, and they’ll say “YES!”

    Ask if Muslim prayers or Buddhist chants should be allowed, and they would yell “HELL NO!”
    The problem is this:Nobodies asked us this question.And nobodies said any thing about letting us pray in school. You people attack us .Me being a Christian, (this will surprise u) dont mind if the Muslims and Buddists do it, as long as we can share Christ with them without our butts being sued for “imposing” our religion on others. To us religious freedom, is being able to practice our religion, in private and in public (and government buildings). Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, >or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

  4. Hi Bob,

    Thank you for sharing your views. It is heartening to hear that you would be happy if other (non-Christian) religions were represented in school – but where would that leave the atheists and other non-religious types?

    As you say, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;. Requiring prayer in school is not the free exercise of religion though. That’s government-sponsored religion, paid for by government (and therefore not free).

    You are free to practice your religion, and the ACLU frequently goes to bat for individuals who are not allowed that privilege. The ACLU is on your side.

    The sticking point is probably where you say “as long as we can share Christ with them”. I hate it when people try to “share Christ” with me. To me, Christianity is one of the most murderous religions on the planet and people on the so-called Christian Right are so filled with hate that they cannot be Christian (to me, JC comes across as a peace love dove type). But I’m not suggesting you’re like that, and I’m not suggesting that Christianity is the only murderous religion. I’m just saying that I don’t like it when someone tries to “share Christ” with me. I believe I’m not alone in that regard.

    If you could practice your religion without trying to shove it down people’s throats (my interpretation of “share Christ), we wouldn’t have a problem.

    So Bob, would you rather the ACLU not defend your rights to religious freedom?

    Cheers, Neil.

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