As Washington Monthly's Steve Benen notes, former Arkansas Governor and current Fox News host Mike "Huckabee doesn't know what he's talking about."
Perhaps Politico should have taken that into consideration before uncritically repeating Huckabee's false claim that the economic recovery package is "anti-religious." Though the provision Huckabee cited is correct -- the bill would not provide money to be used on a religious "school or department of divinity" -- Politico did not note that, contrary to Huckabee's suggestion that this provision is a consequence of the liberal trifecta of Pelosi-Reid-Obama, such provisions were included in bills passed when the Republicans were in the majority, as Media Matters has noted.
Look, if Mike Huckabee doesn't like the stimulus bill, fine. But to tell people the legislation is "anti-religious" is just insane. Or, to put it another way, Huckabee is bearing false witness, which as he may have heard, is generally frowned upon.
Regular readers know the story by now, but if you're just joining us, this myth has been making the rounds in right-wing circles for about a week. Originally, the American Center for Law and Justice, a right-wing legal group formed by TV preacher Pat Robertson, said the stimulus bill includes a provision that would prohibit "religious groups and organizations from using" buildings on college campuses. Soon after, religious right groups and right-wing blogs were up in arms, demanding that lawmakers fix the "anti-Christian" language of the bill. Fox News and the Christian Broadcasting Network helped get the word out to the far-right base about the nefarious measure. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) actually tried to have the provision removed from the bill.
There was, however, one small problem: there was no such measure. The ACLJ doesn't know how to read legislation, and didn't realize that the standard language in the bill simply blocks spending for on-campus buildings that are used primarily for religion (like a chapel, for example). This same language has been part of education spending bills for 46 years. It's just the law, and it's never been controversial.
ConWebWatch and News Hounds pick up on WorldNetDaily and Fox News promoting the misguided notion that the President's recovery bill would prohibit religious activity in schools accepting Federal funds.
A Feb. 6 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh uncritically repeats claims by Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice that a clause in a provision in the stimulus bill that bans federal funding of construction of school facilities whose primary purpose is religious is an "attempt to censor religious speech and worship on school campuses across the nation." Unruh makes no apparent attempt to seek out a response to Sekulow and Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, whom Unruh also quotes opining on the issue.
Too bad, because Sekulow and DeMint appear to be lying.
From News Hounds:
There is a saying that "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" and "Grapevine" is a stunning example of that aphorism; as it offers short sound-bites on information that is presented as Fox "fact" without analysis or rebuttal.
The February 4th article began with a sentence sure to get the pitchfork gang salivating: "Democrats in Congress have declared war on prayer, say conservative groups who object to a provision in the stimulus bill that was passed by the House of Representatives last week. The provision bans money designated for school renovation from being spent on facilities that allow "religious worship." It has ignited a fury among critics who say it violates the First Amendment and is an attempt to prevent religious practice in schools." Naturally, the head of the religious right Liberty Counsel, Matthew Staver, was quoted at length. The article provided a brief rebuttal (Barry Lynn From Americans United for Separation of Church and State and a sentence summing up the ACLU position) but bookended the article with more commentary (whining) from "The Traditional Values Coalition." The religious right had already set in motion their pre-emptive strike against the evil Democrats – see People for the American Way's "The 'Big Lie' Strategy: Religious Right Stokes False Fears of Religious Persecution" which details how the religious right "ratcheted up the rhetoric" of a "phony crisis" in advance of Republican Senator Jim DeMint's amendment to strip church/state protections from the bill and how they spun the resulting defeat of the amendment. The Fox News article was part of a culture war skirmish which even included Fox fave Michelle Malkin who indignantly stated, on her blog, that the defeat of the DeMint amendment was another reason not to support the stimulus package.
I guess the religious right and Republican Senator Jim DeMint don't have a problem with "bearing false witness" because their attempts to galvanize the base by demonizing Democrats are a bold, fresh pile of steaming crap.
On its website and on Your World, Fox News has promoted the misrepresentation of a provision in the economic recovery bill to make false claims about restrictions on spending in the bill for religious activities in schools. In fact, the provision is nearly identical to provisions included in numerous other federal bills.
On Fox & Friends, following co-host Steve Doocy's remark that "we've got to be tolerant of people who celebrate holidays in December, like Ramadan. ... [Y]ou've got to be tolerant of all people," co-host Gretchen Carlson declared: "I am tolerant. I'm all for free speech and free rights, just not on December 25th."
Politico's Ben Smith contrasted President-elect Barack Obama and President George W. Bush's church attendance in the weeks after their elections, but Smith failed to note numerous reports of Bush's infrequent church attendance over the past eight years, as well as Bush's reported lack of membership in a Washington, D.C., congregation. Smith cited another Politico article that also ignored reports about Bush's church attendance.
Responding to a Media Matters item, radio host Jim Quinn defended his suggestion that a military response to the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, is warranted regardless of whether "a lot of peaceful Muslims" are harmed or killed. Quinn responded, in part: "[I]f I'm in a room with a thousand people, and 999 of them love me, but one has a gun and wants to kill me, how relevant are the 999? They have no relevance whatever. I'm sorry, but peaceful Muslims will only be relevant insofar as they rise up against those who are not peaceful."
On The War Room, Jim Quinn said: "We either wipe this scourge from the face of the Earth -- 'Well, you just can't say that, because there's a lot of peaceful Muslims out there.' Well, there was a lot of Germans that weren't Nazis either, but we still bombed Dresden. We either wipe this scourge from the face of the Earth, or we will be doomed to live under it."
In an article headlined "Obama skips church, heads to gym," Politico reported, "On the three Sundays since his election, Obama has instead used his free time to get in workouts at a Chicago gym," and also asserted, "Both President-elect George W. Bush and President-elect Bill Clinton managed to attend church in the weeks after they were elected." However, Politico ignored numerous reports that Bush attended church infrequently over the past eight years and did not belong to a Washington congregation. Politico's report was echoed by other media, including Fox News and the syndicated radio show The War Room with Quinn & Rose.
On Hardball, Chuck Todd falsely claimed that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit "wants to get rid of the Pledge" of Allegiance. In fact, in Newdow v. U.S. Congress, a 9th Circuit panel did not decide that the entire Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional, but rather "h[e]ld that ... the 1954 Act adding the words 'under God' to the Pledge ... violate[s] the Establishment Clause" of the First Amendment.
Radio host Chris Baker repeatedly referred to Sen. Barack Obama as "Nicolae Carpathia," the Antichrist character in the Left Behind book series, including one instance in which he stated: "I'm getting really sick of being told that if I disagree with Barack Obammy, the Nicolae Carpathia candidate, that I'm a racist."
On The Savage Nation, discussing a caller's statement that "Muslim fundamentalists" are "walk[ing] around Northern Virginia as if they own the place," Michael Savage asked, "Why would a nation that is as evolved as America, and as liberal as America is socially, want to bring in throwbacks who are living in the 15th century?" He also asked: "What is the societal benefit of bringing in throwbacks, some of whom are no doubt terrorists, and some of whom are gonna produce children who will become terrorists?"
On his syndicated radio show, Jim Quinn referred to the National Organization for Women as "the National Organization for Whores," and said of Philadelphia Daily News columnist Fatimah Ali: "[Y]ou know, Fatimah, what's your real name? Come on, seriously. I mean, get an American name, will you, if you want to be an American." He then asked: "You don't suppose she's a liberal black Muslim, do you?"
The Los Angeles Times asserted that Sen. Barack Obama "probably can't erase the God gap," but cited as evidence Pew poll results for white voters. In fact, the same Pew poll found that Obama leads McCain 88 percent to 6 percent among "Black Protestant[s]." Moreover, Barabak asserted that Obama "trail[ed] McCain among ... non-Hispanic Catholics," but Barabak did not note that Obama leads McCain among all Catholic voters, 47 percent to 42 percent.
On NPR's Morning Edition, Mara Liasson asserted there was "irony" in "a liberal Democrat showcasing his faith." Liasson did not explain what she thought was "ironic" about such an action.