Fox News figures outraged over Obama's "Christian nation" comment

››› ››› CHRISTINE SCHWEN

Several Fox News media figures have paraphrased or replayed President Obama's remarks in Turkey, during which he said, in part: "[W]e do not consider ourselves a Christian nation," in order to criticize Obama.

Several Fox News media figures, including Fox News contributor Karl Rove, Hannity host Sean Hannity, America's Newsroom co-host Megan Kelly, and Fox News analyst Newt Gingrich, have paraphrased or replayed President Obama's remarks during an April 6 press availability with the president of Turkey, during which he made factual comments about religion in America, saying, in part: "[W]e do not consider ourselves a Christian nation," and used those comments to criticize Obama and generate outrage. For example, Gingrich asserted Obama "was fundamentally misleading about the nature of America"; Hannity stated that he was "offended" and that Obama is "out of touch with the principles that have made this country great"; Rove suggested that Obama denied the reality that "we have historically had, you know, a robust presence of faith in our public square"; and Kelly asked if Obama had "step[ped] on a political landmine" and suggested that Obama was "obviously just pandering" when he suggested "[w]e're not a Christian country." In fact, Obama was making a broader point about the ecumenical nature of our country.

During the press availability, Obama stated:

I think that where -- where there's the most promise of building stronger U.S.-Turkish relations is in the recognition that Turkey and the United States can build a model partnership in which a predominantly Christian nation and a predominantly Muslim nation, a Western nation and a nation that straddles two continents -- that we can create a modern international community that is respectful, that is secure, that is prosperous; that there are not tensions, inevitable tensions, between cultures, which I think is extraordinarily important.

That's something that's very important to me. And I've said before that one of the great strengths of the United States is -- although as I mentioned, we have a very large Christian population, we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation; we consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.

I think Turkey was -- modern Turkey was founded with a similar set of principles, and yet what we're seeing is in both countries that promise of a secular country that is respectful of religious freedom, respectful of rule of law, respectful of freedom, upholding these values and being willing to stand up for them in the international stage. If we are joined together in delivering that message, East and West, to -- to the world, then I think that we can have an extraordinary impact. And I'm very much looking forward to that partnership in the days to come.

On April 8, Fox News media figures made the following comments about Obama's remarks:

  • On Hannity, Gingrich stated that Obama "went to Turkey, and I think was fundamentally misleading about the nature of America. We are not a secular country. We're a country which was founded with a Declaration of Independence which says we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights. Now how can you say all of your rights as an American come from your creator and then pretend that you're a secular society? We're not."
  • Hannity responded to Gingrich by stating: "How insulted should the average American be? Because I'm offended, because I don't think we're an arrogant nation. We're the nation that actually saved Europe from Europe and totalitarianism, and we paid a very heavy price. My father fought in World War II. You know -- and then for him to say, obviously, clearly not reading our framers and our founders, because they all refer to the Judeo-Christian ethic as the foundation of this country. How -- what does that say about this president and his world view that he's that out of touch with the principles that have made this country great? And why is president -- isn't he selling that and defining that for the world?"
  • Later during the same edition of his show, Hannity introduced a segment with Rove by stating, "And as Christians celebrate their Holy Week, President Obama is busy out there telling the world this is not a Christian nation." During the segment, Rove asserted: "Yeah, look, America is a nation built on faith. I mean, we can be Christian, we can be Jew, we can be Mormon, we can be, you know, any variety of things. We're a country that prizes faith and believes that we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights; among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Rove added: "And to somehow go to Turkey, and in order to sort of identify yourself with this Turkish secular movement that began in the early part of the previous century, and trying to somehow making Turkey and America equivalent, is to deny each nation's reality. And Turkey is a country that adopted a certain attitude towards the role of religion in the public arena, and America has a different attitude. And we have historically had, you know, a robust presence of faith in our public square, and to deny that that's a reality is, you know, very strange, I think."
  • During On the Record, guest host Kelly asserted: "Obama says we are no longer a Christian nation. Is that true? And did the president just step on a political landmine?" Later, during a discussion with nationally syndicated radio host Laura Ingraham, Kelly stated that "some people say, listen, he was obviously just pandering. He was in this Muslim nation saying, look, we're not a Christian country."

From the April 8 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

HANNITY: But -- so then he talks about how we will begin universal disarmament, as you just pointed out. But then he come -- he's coming off a tour where he's constantly apologizing for America, referring to us as an arrogant country, dictating to the world our views, and that we're not a Christian nation.

We are a nation that was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. Now, I'm looking at his world view, and I'm thinking, OK, this sounds a lot like he learned something sitting in Reverend Wright's pews and hanging out with --

GINGRICH: Well, I --

HANNITY: -- palling around with Bill Ayers.

GINGRICH: And I think he learned an awful lot reading Revelry [sic: Reveille] for Radicals and studying left-wing activists in South Side Chicago. I think it's very important to recognize that what you're watching is the most radical left-wing administration in American history.

The foreign policy trip, I think, was pretty pathetic. He went and he promised the Europeans everything; they gave him nothing. He went and made a speech that nobody thought was realistic about nuclear weapons, while the North Koreans showed their contempt for him.

He went to Turkey, and I think was fundamentally misleading about the nature of America. We are not a secular country. We're a country which was founded with a Declaration of Independence which says we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights.

Now how can you say all of your rights as an American come from your creator and then pretend that you're a secular society? We're not.

HANNITY: How insulted should the average American be? Because I'm offended, because I don't think we're an arrogant nation. We're the nation that actually saved Europe from Europe and totalitarianism, and we paid a very heavy price.

My father fought in World War II. You know -- and then for him to say, obviously, clearly not reading our framers and our founders, because they all refer to the Judeo-Christian ethic as the foundation of this country.

How -- what does that say about this president and his world view that he's that out of touch with the principles that have made this country great? And why is president -- isn't he selling that and defining that for the world?

[...]

HANNITY: And tonight in "Your America," we're taking a look at Obama's America. Now on the economic front, a new congressional report is recommending the firing of more top executives and says the economic crisis may only be in the early stages. And as Christians celebrate their Holy Week, President Obama is busy out there telling the world this is not a Christian nation.

All right, joining us now with a reaction to all of this is Fox News contributor Karl Rove -- the architect. Karl, all right, so we're an arrogant country, and we're not a Christian nation, and we bow before the Saudi king.

[...]

HANNITY: You know, one of the things that every past president has done -- first of all, most -- Harry Truman, Wilson, our framers -- they all acknowledged that America is a Christian nation. But more importantly, when a president goes abroad and apologizes for America and doesn't tell the great story of America -- what makes us great, why so many people want to come here -- were you as offended as I was and Newt Gingrich obviously?

ROVE: Yeah, look, America is a nation built on faith. I mean, we can be Christian, we can be Jew, we can be Mormon, we can be, you know, any variety of things. We're a country that prizes faith and believes that we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights; among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

And to somehow go to Turkey, and in order to sort of identify yourself with this Turkish secular movement that began in the early part of the previous century, and trying to somehow making Turkey and America equivalent, is to deny each nation's reality. And Turkey is a country that adopted a certain attitude towards the role of religion in the public arena, and America has a different attitude. And we have historically had, you know, a robust presence of faith in our public square, and to deny that that's a reality is, you know, very strange, I think.

HANNITY: Well, I think it was a disgrace, as he goes on his apologizing for America tour and bowing before the king.

From the April 8 edition of On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:

KELLY: Coming up next: President Obama says we are no longer a Christian nation. Is that true? And did the president just step on a political landmine? Answers coming up with Laura Ingraham, right after this break.

[...]

KELLY: Well, is America no longer a Christian nation? President Obama raised some eyebrows while talking about religion in America during a speech in the Muslim nation of Turkey.

OBAMA [video clip]: We can create a modern, international community that is respectful, that is secure, that is prosperous; that there are not tensions -- inevitable tensions -- between cultures, which I think is extraordinarily important. That is something that is very important to me.

You know, I have said before that one of the great strengths of the United States is -- although, as I have mentioned, that we have a very large Christian population, we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation; we consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.

KELLY: Well, some say the president has been reading too much Newsweek, which is under fire for its latest cover declaring, quote, "The Decline and Fall of Christian America."

According to a poll in that magazine and its related article, the number of people who consider the U.S. a Christian nation has fallen to 62 percent, which is down from 69 percent last year. So is America, in fact, abandoning its Christian roots? Nationally syndicated radio host Laura Ingraham joins me now with answers by phone.

[...]

INGRAHAM: I think, obviously, President Obama was trying to ingratiate himself with the Muslim world, and, you know, we'll see if that works out for us.

KELLY: Well, what do you think about that? I mean, some people say, listen, he was obviously just pandering. He was in this Muslim nation saying, look, we're not a Christian country -- and by the way this is not the first time he's said this. He gave a speech back in June of 2006, according to our records, where he said exactly this, and then again he repeated it the following year.

And actually when he said it in 2006 he got a little bit more controversial, saying that faith has been hijacked, partly because of the so-called leadership of the Christian right. So he hasn't made any secret about how he feels on this.

INGRAHAM: Exactly. I mean, this is happening on a trip where, you know, he was either bowing to the Saudi king or he lost a contact, OK? So, you know, this is the same man who talked about, you know, people clinging to their, you know, religion in the United States. I think it strikes a really tone-deaf -- deafness, really Megyn, when you think about it, because, you know, this is the Easter season. America is an extremely religious country -- you know, fluctuation in the polls here and there doesn't really bother me.

And we have people of all faiths, and we respect different religious traditions, and that is truly one of our great traits in this country, is that we allow people to worship any way they want. But the facts are the facts. I mean, we are 75 percent Christian, if you believe this poll, and 85 percent of Americans say religion is very important --

KELLY: Yup.

INGRAHAM: -- or fairly important in their lives. So, all is well with the people of faith.

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