Western intellectual leaders discuss Christianity

"Western intellectual leaders discuss Christianity" Continued...

Issue: "Osama bin Ashcroft?," April 27, 2002


CBS anchor Dan Rather, writing in the April 11 issue of The Nation, attacks Christians for creating an anti-homosexual atmosphere: "Gays and lesbians are beaten to death in the streets with increasing frequency-in part due to irrational fear of AIDS but also because hatemongers, from comedians to the worst of the Christian right, send the message that homosexuals have no value in our society. Sometimes that message has a major-party affiliation and a request for a campaign contribution."


New Orleans-based National Public Radio commentator Andrei Codrescu comments on a Revelation-based tract he receives while Christmas shopping: "The evaporation of 4 million people who believe this crap would leave the world an instantly better place." NPR and Mr. Codrescu later apologize.


Terrence McMally's Corpus Christi, a play about a homosexual Christ-figure who is killed by gay-bashing thugs, opens Sept. 23 off Broadway in New York. Faced with denunciations by religious leaders, the Manhattan Theatre Club had decided to drop the play, but it reverses that decision to the applause of the artistic community.

After gay student Matthew Shepard is murdered by thugs in Wyoming, journalists across the country contend that Christianity creates a "climate of hate" in which violence is acceptable. "The Christian Right per se and some particular members on Capitol Hill," says Deborah Mathis of Gannett News Service, "have helped inflame the air so that the air that these bad people breathed that night was filled, filled with the idea that somehow gays are ... bad and not only are they bad, they are evil and therefore evil can be destroyed. The next step to that to me, it's a three-step process, and that ends in destruction. I don't say that they were told to do that, they certainly weren't part of any plan to do that, but again, what air are they breathing now? It's the air filled with that hate." She specifically blames the Christian Coalition, the Family Research Council, and Concerned Women for America, along with political leaders Trent Lott, Jesse Helms, and Dick Armey.


During an April 14 conference call of CBS Weekend News producers, Roxanne Russell of the Washington bureau refers to Gary Bauer, then head of the conservative Family Research Council, as "the little nut from the Christian group." Television journalist Bernard Goldberg observes in Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News, that he wasn't shocked by the hostility, but asks: "Would a network news producer ever make such a disparaging remark, so openly, about the head of a Jewish group? Or a gay group? Or a black group?"


In an article on the FBI investigation into the anthrax letters sent to Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy, National Public Radio reporter David Kestenbaum suggests on Jan. 22 that the conservative Traditional Values Coalition was a possible suspect because "before the attacks, [the group] had issued a press release criticizing the senators for trying to remove the phrase 'so help me God' from the oath."

Les Sillars
Les Sillars

Les directs the journalism program at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Va., and is the editor of WORLD's Mailbag section.


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