A theological studies director is criticizing Fox News contributor and pastor Robert Jeffress for spreading anti-Muslim "hate speech" that's "abusing God's Word and violating its teaching."
During a November 15 sermon at First Baptist Church in Dallas, Jeffress told his congregation that the Paris terrorists were "acting according to the teaching of Islam," and said "it is time" to call out Islam as "a false religion ... inspired by Satan himself":
JEFFRESS: I believe it is time for us to lay aside political correctness and identify the belief system that is responsible for these horrific acts. And that is the evil, evil religion of radical Islam. That is the belief system that inspired this tragedy. And make no mistake about it. Islam is just not another way to approach God. Islam is a false religion and it is inspired by Satan himself, who Jesus said came to steal, kill, and destroy. And this weekend we saw the fruit of Satan's destruction in the acts of these terrorists. It is impossible to separate what these eight suicide bombers did from their faith, their religion that inspired them to do this. These terrorists were not acting in opposition to the teaching of Islam. They were acting according to the teaching of Islam.
Dr. Robert A Hunt, the director of Global Theological Education at Southern Methodist University, hit back at Jeffress for spreading anti-Muslim "fear and anxiety" through "hate speech." In a November 22 post headlined, "The Darkness in the Heart of Dallas," Hunt wrote that Jeffress "rather selectively quotes Jesus" and is "abusing God's Word" and railing "against Islam out of ignorance and fear" (emphasis in original):
My city, Dallas, wants to be something. It wants to be an international hub of commerce. It wants to be a cosmopolitan center for the cultivation and appreciation of the arts. It wants to be a place whose citizens or all races thrive, whose families are safe from violence, and whose children excel.
And this cannot happen yet. Because in the heart Dallas, in one of its biggest churches, pastors like Robert Jeffress (and others like him across the city) systematically attack the foundations of a diverse society by attacking its foundation of tolerance and respect for religious minorities.
Except this isn't really what is happening. What is happening at the heart of our city is that Christians are anxious and afraid and striking out blindly at what they believe threatens them. Jeffress and his people are grasping at every straw, even abusing God's Word and violating its teaching to justify their fear and anxiety and try to make sense of the world they live in.
When what they actually need is what we all need: the peace of Christ, and to get to know their neighbors so that they can love and respect them as children of God.
If Dallas is going to be the city it wants to be then Jeffress and his fellow pastors who rail against Islam out of ignorance and fear need to engage Muslims in dialogue and learn about the religion from its followers. Only then will they be able to show the kind of leadership our city so desperately needs.
Hunt wrote a November 24 follow-up post explaining why Jeffress' anti-Islam statements are hate speech, and concluding that there "cannot exist a civil society without civil dialogue among people of different religions":
Statements about religion are not opinions about something incidental to the identity of a group or individual. They are statements about the core of who that person is. All opinions have the potential to wound the feelings of another. You can hurt my feelings just by telling me that I'm fat, or bald and these things don't even touch my core identity. But what if you insult something that is essential to my identity like my ethnicity. That would be racism wouldn't it? That would be hateful. The same would be true if you insulted my nation, or my mother. Saying negative things about a person's religion are in the same category as disparaging his or her race, or parentage, or nationality. They are hateful, and are perceived as hateful, and cannot be defended against the charge of hate speech.
There cannot exist a civil society without civil dialogue among people of different religions. And there can be no civil dialogue when people of any religion denigrate the most closely held personal beliefs and values of their neighbors. Call Jeffress' words what you want, they undermine the social fabric of the city of Dallas and more broadly our state and nation. As do, I note, the words of numerous politicians both in office and aspiring to office. Hate speech is rapidly becoming the coin of the realm, and it is daily undermining the currency of reason, respect, and love.]
Jeffress is no stranger to incendiary remarks against those who don't follow his religious beliefs. He has called Catholicism a "cult-like, pagan religion," Mormonism a "cult" from the "pit of hell," and claimed followers of Judaism and Hinduism religions will be led to "an eternity of separation from God in Hell." Jeffress' fiery remarks have been rebuked by Republicans like Mitt Romney and Fox News contributor Karl Rove.
Despite his hate speech, Fox News employs Jeffress and hosts him for regular on-air appearances.
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is asking supporters for money so he can put Rush Limbaugh's praise of him "in front of millions of Republican primary voters."
During the November 22 edition of Fox News Sunday, Limbaugh was asked for his opinion about the Texas senator. He replied: "Brilliant, just absolutely brilliant. And conservative through and through. Trustworthy, strong, confident, leader, and somebody in whom you can totally depend."
Cruz sent a fundraising email to supporters today touting Limbaugh's praise and asking for money so he can get his remarks out to voters. From Cruz's email:
Nationally renowned radio host Rush Limbaugh just made a huge move of support for my campaign...even going as far as to defend me on national television!
I can't thank Rush enough for his supportive comments.
Rush defended me against the mainstream media -- will you help me get Rush's defense in front of millions of Republican primary voters in the next seven days by making a EMERGENCY contribution today?
Limbaugh has repeatedly praised Cruz, both before and after he launched his presidential campaign, even once suggesting he "might be the smartest man in Congress." Cruz recently lobbied for a Republican presidential debate "moderated by Sean Hannity and Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh."
Cruz has also drawn recent praise from right-wing figures like Fox's Sean Hannity, radio host Mark Levin, Iowa pundit Steve Deace, gun activist Larry Pratt, Texas-based radio host Michael Berry, and anti-choice extremist Troy Newman, among others.
A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that the "most avid conservative talk-radio listeners ranked retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson as their top pick, followed by celebrity businessman Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Just 3% gave the nod to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush."
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is touting the endorsement of Troy Newman, the president of Operation Rescue and a board member for The Center for Medical Progress (CMP). Newman is one of the country's most notorious anti-choice activists. He was a "driving force" behind CMP's series of misleading videos smearing Planned Parenthood and has a long history of incendiary remarks that include "praising the killing of abortion doctors and calling women who have abortions 'murderers.'"
A newly-released IRS filing reveals that a central group in Charles and David Koch's financial network paid CBS News analyst Frank Luntz's firm roughly $1.5 million in 2014 for messaging work. Luntz recently used his CBS platform to praise Koch donor conference attendees as symbolizing "the American dream," and defend the Kochs' spending -- without disclosing that he's benefited from their largesse.
Roger Stone and Robert Morrow's book The Clintons' War On Women is dedicated to and repeatedly cites research from Victor Thorn, who wrote The Holocaust Hoax Exposed and blames a "Jewish plot" for the 9/11 attacks. Stone and Morrow's book has been repeatedly touted by Fox News and endorsed by Sean Hannity and Donald Trump. Stone recently promoted the book in an interview with Thorn for the American Free Press, an anti-Semitic publication founded by "one of the most influential American anti-Semitic propagandists" who used his "publishing to denigrate Jews and other minorities and galvanize the movement to deny the Holocaust."
Conservative media like Fox News have waged a campaign against the Clinton Foundation and the media's connections to the nonpartisan charity. One of the moderators for the upcoming Fox Business Republican debate was heavily involved in the charity, complicating any potential debate efforts to fearmonger about the group's "fantastic" work.
Maria Bartiromo is co-moderating Fox Business' November 10 Republican primary debate. She is the host of Mornings with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business and Sunday Morning Futures on Fox News.
Bartiromo moderated or participated in at least eight Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) events between 2008 and 2013 during her prior employment at CNBC.
CGI is a nonpartisan program of the Clinton Foundation that annually convenes world leaders to pledge charitable commitments for "solutions to the world's most pressing challenges." CGI and the Clinton Foundation have been widely praised, with attendees and donors including leading Republican politicians and conservative media moguls. But during the current presidential campaign, conservatives have turned on the organization, painting it as a partisan extension of Hillary Clinton's campaign.
Bartiromo was listed as a "member" of the Clinton Global Initiative on the program's website. She called CGI a "fantastic" and "nonpartisan" event that has received commitments "valued at more than $73 billion." She praised the Clinton Foundation for doing "good work" and trying to "really make a difference."
In 2008, Bartiromo was the master of ceremonies for a CGI event honoring "extraordinary citizens of the world." She said she "was privileged" to host it for President Clinton.
21st Century Fox executive chairman Rupert Murdoch and his son, 21st Century Fox CEO James R. Murdoch, have also been involved with the Clinton Foundation as donors and attendees at events. 21st Century Fox is the parent company of Fox Business.
Conservative media previously complained about CNN debate moderator Anderson Cooper's ties to CGI. The Weekly Standard claimed "Cooper helped Hillary Clinton raise money, and now he's presented as an impartial moderator for tonight's debate." Truth Revolt wrote that Cooper's ties show he's "Part of Clinton Circle."
UPDATE (11/10): Trish Regan, who is hosting Fox Business' undercard debate, also participated in Clinton Foundation events during her prior employment with Bloomberg TV.
Regan moderated a CGI panel on "Our Generation's Greatest Challenge: Winning the Race to a Clean Energy Future" in 2014. She also hosted "sessions where top government, business, and nonprofit leaders will address the U.S. economy" for CGI in 2013, including interviewing President Clinton.
Conservative media reacted to Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson's reported admission that he fabricated his application and acceptance into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point by saying that the news is "very bad" and Carson is likely "done." Several commentators later took back their initial critiques after the Carson campaign hit back at Politico's report.*
Ed Rogers is the chairman of a top lobbying firm that's received more than $700,000 from the energy industry so far this year, and is also a lobbyist for Southern Company, an electrical utility company that is fighting environmental protections. But the Washington Post is allowing Rogers to write a blog where he repeatedly dismisses the scientific consensus on climate change and echoes his client's attacks against President Obama's flagship climate plan without disclosing his lobbying clients.
Morning Joe's interview "exclusive, first-ever joint interview" with industrialists Charles and David Koch was full of softball questions and worshipful praise. They also gave the Koch brothers a pass for claiming they oversee one of "the safest and environmentally protective" companies. The fawning interview follows months of pro-Koch coverage by the MSNBC hosts.
After the CNBC Republican presidential debate generated controversy, conservative media have suggested upcoming debates should be moderated by right-wing pundits. Their suggestions have included serial misinformers and inflammatory commentators like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, and Erick Erickson. Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz also proposed "a debate moderated by Sean Hannity and Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh."
Here is a look at what right-wing figures like Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin, Beck, and Erickson would bring to the debate stage.
Rush Limbaugh has a long history of offensive and controversial remarks during his decades-long radio career. He came under heavy fire and lost advertisers and affiliates following his nasty attacks on Georgetown University Law Center student Sandra Fluke in 2012.
Limbaugh Regularly Engages In Misogynistic Smears And Attacks On Women. Limbaugh once compared a young Chelsea Clinton to a dog, claimed feminism "was established to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream," and said Hillary Clinton is in possession of a "testicle lockbox." He repeatedly attacked Sandra Fluke, calling her "a slut" and "a prostitute." [Media Matters, 3/5/12, 3/5/12, 3/15/12]
Limbaugh's Long History Of Making Outrageous, Offensive Comparisons And Invoking Rape When Discussing Politics. Limbaugh has compared welfare recipients to wild animals who rely on humans for food, health care reform to Nazi policies, and President Obama to various dictators. In 2013, Limbaugh compared changing Senate filibuster rules to "allow[ing] women to be raped." [Media Matters, 11/23/13]
Limbaugh Has Made Offensive And Controversial Remarks Targeting Immigrants. Limbaugh has described undocumented immigrants as an "invasive species," and repeatedly mocked, denigrated, and insulted them as disease-ridden, criminal, and unintelligent. [Media Matters, 3/10/12]
Limbaugh Uses His Program To Mock Those Suffering From Natural Disasters And Illnesses. Limbaugh once accused actor Michael J. Fox of "exaggerating" the symptoms of his Parkinson's disease in a commercial for a Senate candidate, and expressed amusement that a deadly earthquake hit an environmentally conscious country. [Media Matters, 3/11/12]
Limbaugh Launches Racial Attacks Against Minorities And President Obama. Limbaugh has a long history of discriminatory attacks on minorities, which escalated during President Obama's presidency. During a 2013 discussion of George Zimmerman's trial, Limbaugh claimed he could now use the word "nigga" because a trial witness used the word. [Media Matters, 3/7/12, 7/16/13]
Limbaugh Frequently Engages In Attacks Against LGBT People And Issues. [Media Matters, 3/9/12]
For more on Rush Limbaugh, go here.
Sean Hannity has used his radio and Fox News programs to push false information and smears against progressives.
Hannity Fed The Birther Conspiracy Movement And Questioned President Obama's Religion. Hannity called on President Obama to produce his birth certificate, claimed he "grew up in Kenya," and asserted that he "went to a Muslim school." [Media Matters, 4/20/12]
Hannity Launched A Vicious Anti-Gay Smear Campaign Against Former Obama Administration Official Kevin Jennings. [Media Matters, 4/20/12]
Hannity's History Of Race-Baiting. Hannity repeatedly pushed the bogus connection between President Obama and the New Black Panther Party, and wondered if the "Obamas have a race problem of their own." [Media Matters, 4/20/12]
Hannity Has Frequently Pushed Falsehoods About The Environment. Hannity has claimed global warming "doesn't exist," and said the "true agenda" behind climate change science is to punish the United States and redistribute wealth. [Media Matters, 4/20/12]
Hannity Has A History Of Fearmongering About Muslims. Hannity has fearmongered about Sharia law, and defended attacks on Islam. [Media Matters, 4/20/12]
For more on Sean Hannity, go here.
Radio host Mark Levin uses toxic rhetoric to rail against progressives and those he sees as insufficiently conservative.
Levin's Long History Of Pushing Conservative Lies And Hateful Rhetoric. Levin has compared marriage equality to incest, polygamy, and drug use; compared supporters of the health care law to Nazi "brown shirts"; and likened immigration reform to the "destruction" and "unraveling" of society. [Media Matters, 3/6/14]
Levin: President Obama Is A "Low-Life" And A "Racist" For Using "The N-Word" After Charleston Shooting. [Media Matters, 6/23/15]
Levin Accused Obama Of Being Anti-Semitic. [Media Matters, 3/18/15]
For more on Mark Levin, go here.
TheBlaze host Glenn Beck is best-known for his fringe rhetoric and outlandish conspiracy theories that helped lead to his parting from Fox News in 2011.
Media Matters' Comprehensive Guide To Glenn Beck's Tenure With Fox News. Beck's tenure at Fox News included violent rhetoric; conspiratorial musings; and rhetoric steeped in steeped in anti-Semitic stereotypes. [Media Matters, 6/29/11]
Beck Smeared President Obama As A Racist With "Deep-Seated Hatred For White People." [Media Matters, 7/30/09]
The 8 Most Ridiculous Attacks On Public Education In Glenn Beck's Book Conform: Exposing The Truth About Common Core And Public Education. [Media Matters, 5/13/14]
Glenn Beck Has History Of Using The Holocaust To Advance His Political Agenda. Beck has repeatedly invoked Nazis, Hitler, and the Holocaust to attack his political opponents. [Media Matters, 8/22/11]
For more on Glenn Beck, go here.
Erick Erickson is a conservative blogger, radio host, and Fox News contributor. He's used his media platforms to push ugly rhetoric about women, LGBT people, and progressives.
Erickson's Fringe Rhetoric: Supreme Court Justice A "Goat Fucking Child Molester," When Are We Going To Beat Legislators To "A Bloody Pulp?" [Media Matters, 8/4/15]
Erickson Has A History Of Sexism, Including Claiming That Males Should Be "Dominant," "Feminazis" Are "Ugly," And Michelle Obama Is A "Marxist Harpy Wife." [Media Matters,8/4/15]
Erickson Has Been Called Out By Colleagues For "Being Disrespectful To Women." [Media Matters, 8/4/15]
For more on Erick Erickson, go here.