The Media

Publius, meet Leviticus

The second half of Meet the Press was atrocious today. The topic: separation of church & state and "moral values". The panelists: divorced gay-bashing televangelist Jerry Falwell; Bush appointee and woman-basher Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention; anti-war anti-poverty moderate Jim Wallis of Call to Renewal; and Reverend Al Sharpton.

Example of the right's moral valuesHere's a thumbnail of the discourse. Right off the bat, Wallis had very little to say other than one or two commendable mini-statements against war and poverty. Falwell defended his post-9/11 opinion that lesbians and secularists are to blame for the attacks. Sharpton began by jovially talking about bets and steak dinners with Falwell (Land condemned Al and Jerry's wager on the presidential election) just after prefacing his entire position by saying, "I may agree with Reverend Falwell on many issues." And Dickland made a case for a husband's God-given right to prevent his wife from working outside the home and that the Bible mandates women as servants.

The ridiculous discourse aside, is this a representative panel? Two evangelical Christians (Wallis and Sharpton) and two psychopathic evangelical Christians (Falwell and Land)? More below the fold.

If Tim Russert meant to host a truly balanced debate about religion and politics, he should've began with a two-way panel composed of a strict constructionist Constitutional scholar and an pro-judicial-activist Constitutional scholar. Both with religious affiliation, but neither as spokesmen for specific organizations. Half hour of straight up debate between two people who don't have any political or fund-raising axes to grind. Then Russert should've filled out a second panel with one Christian southern evangelical, one Jewish leader, one Muslim leader, and one secularist Congressman with no religious affiliation.Instead, Russert has managed to augment the bubbling global perception that America is the land of radical Christianity. What other signal does it send other than "the only people who have insight on moral issues are Christians"? It also stands to reason that many mainstream Christians tuning into the show do not endorse the fringe doctrine of Land or Falwell. So why does the press lend validity to these lunatics by placing them on what's widely considered to be the most reputable political news show on television?So many questions with one significant answer. The theocratic movement has been so successful that it's infiltrated the mainstream discourse and its formerly marginalized representatives have gone from fringe punchlines to qualified experts. This success is based solely on a disciplined infrastructure of tenacity, bottomless war chests, and subversion of the free press. Now, instead of hearing from different sides, we get different degrees of the same side.If there is to be a national debate about the future of the Constitution, let's talk about the Constitution. Let's talk about the Framers. Let's talk about separation of church and state. There's an enormous population of publish-or-perish Constitutional scholars out there to choose from. But by padding the debate strictly with Christian ringers fed to the press by Christian right think tanks, the Constitution slowly becomes a footnote, and the Bible takes over -- whether it's the rule of law or not. That's the first step on a path towards a Christian reconstructionist theocracy. Publius, say hello to Leviticus and the end of America as we know it.