Fox News contributor Robert Jeffress believes that gay marriage and the film release of Fifty Shades of Grey are signs that the apocalypse is nearing. Jeffress said "the Bible prophesized that in the End Times, there will be a lack of moral restraint. And I think we're seeing that manifested in so many different ways."
Jeffress is an evangelical pastor with a long history of incendiary remarks. He is an anti-gay bigot who believes gays lead a "miserable lifestyle," homosexuality is linked to pedophilia, and gay people are promiscuous and engaged in "filthy behavior," and "brainwashing activit[ies]." He's compared Mormonism to a cult, called Islam an "evil, evil, religion," referred to Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism as "false religions," and said Catholicism is a "counterfeit religion" that rose from a "cult-like, pagan religion."
During a February 10 appearance on Fox News Radio's The Alan Colmes Show, Jeffress said he saw "radical Islam," gay marriage, and Fifty Shades of Grey as signs of the coming apocalypse.
Jeffress claimed: "The Apostle Paul said in 2 Timothy 1 that in the last days it will be terrible times. And that word terrible means lack of moral restraint. And I think we're seeing that everywhere, whether it is the attempt to change the most basic unit of society, the family and marriage by redefinition of marriage. Or the acceptance of perversion. You know, this Fifty Shades of Grey, or Fifty Shades of Perversion. I think that's symptomatic of what is happening."
On gay marriage, Jeffress added, "I believe that gays have the same constitutional rights as heterosexuals. No doubt about it. But I agree with our last guest that marriage is not a constitutional right. If it were, Alan, 15-year-olds could marry. Siblings could marry." He then asked if a father and daughter should also have the right to marry if same-sex couples could.
Jeffress said he hadn't seen or read Fifty Shades of Grey, but from what he read it "tends to objectify women -- put them in a bondage situation." When asked about if he approves of that in a voluntary situation, he replied, "that's her business." He added that "this movie may represent a new low in popular entertainment. That's all I'm saying. And I'm just saying the Bible prophesized that in the End Times, there will be a lack of moral restraint. And I think we're seeing that manifested in so many different ways."
From the February 9 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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Conservative media lashed out at President Obama for mentioning the Crusades and Inquisition at the National Prayer Breakfast after condemning the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) as a "death cult" that distorts Islam.
Conservative media have been quick to use "religious liberty" as an excuse for forgiving all kinds of homophobic rhetoric in the public square. But an employment discrimination complaint against Ford Motor Co. reveals the ugly logical conclusion of the right's conflation of Christianity and anti-gay bigotry.
Conservative media have worked to conflate blatant homophobia and mainstream Christianity, usually in order to defend prominent right-wing homophobes. For instance, Fox News figures rallied to the defense of the Benham brothers, whose HGTV reality show was canceled in May after their history of bigotry was exposed. Fox host Megyn Kelly claimed that while "gay rights are more and more protected in this country," the same didn't hold for "Christian beliefs and Christian rights." Similarly, Sean Hannity deflected criticism of the homophobia expressed by Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson, excusing it as nothing more than "old-fashioned, traditional Christian sentiment and values."
In keeping with that reasoning, a Michigan man named Thomas Banks filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on January 28 against his former employer, Ford. Banks was fired in August after he allegedly violated Ford's anti-harassment policy. According to the EEOC complaint, Banks responded negatively to a shared online article outlining Ford's LGBT-inclusiveness:
For this Ford Motor should be thoroughly ashamed. Endorsing and promoting sodomy is of benefit to no one. This topic is disruptive to the workplace and is an assault on Christians and morality, as well as antithetical to our design and our survival. Immoral sexual conduct should not be a topic for an automotive manufacturer to endorse or promote. And yes - this is historic - but not in a good way. Never in the history of mankind has a culture survived that promotes sodomy. Heterosexual behavior creates life - homosexual behavior leads to death.
Banks is being represented by the anti-LGBT legal group Liberty Institute, which claims that Ford Motor Co. violated Bank's religious liberty by punishing him for his "sincerely held religious beliefs." The Liberty Institute actually cites Banks' "sincerely held religious beliefs" seven times in the first two paragraphs of its complaint:
From the February 2 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' Sean Hannity Show:
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From the February 2 edition of CNN's Wolf:
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At least twenty civil rights organizations and faith leaders, including Muslim Advocates, the NAACP, Amnesty International USA, and the Arab American Institute penned an open letter expressing concern about the media's sensationalist coverage following the recent tragedies in Paris.
In the letter obtained by Media Matters, faith leaders and civil rights advocates admonished media outlets like Fox News for promoting "divisive rhetoric" that misrepresents the Islamic faith and Muslims. Advocates criticized media outlets who falsely suggested that Muslim leaders failed to condemn the violence in Paris, promoted the profiling of Muslims, and parroted misinformation harmful to civic debate:
We are civil rights advocates and faith leaders writing to express deep concern about recent media coverage that exploits the tragic acts of terror in Paris to misrepresent Islam and call for more profiling of Muslims. This sensationalist coverage and commentary, if continued, will harmfully divide Americans on false pretenses at a time when we need to be united. Furthermore, we believe such divisive rhetoric impedes our ability to have a much-needed fact-driven debate about responding to terrorism on all fronts.
The problematic coverage has been pervasive: one Fox News host and program after another has falsely suggested that Muslim leaders and organizations have not taken a stand against the violence in Paris. News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch tweeted, "Maybe most Moslems peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible." Radio hosts followed suit, claiming that similar terror attacks wouldn't occur if "most Muslims were against what was happening." Real Time host Bill Maher alleged that "hundreds of millions" of Muslims support the massacre and even a CNN anchor asked his guest, a Muslim human rights lawyer, whether or not he supports ISIS.
For Mr. Murdoch, Fox News, and others to suggest that 1.6 billion Muslims, or nearly a fourth of the world's population, does not condemn, and may even support, the violence in Paris is not only blatant misinformation, it disregards the hundreds of millions of Muslims who fight for the cause of freedom and democracy every day.
Read the full letter, signed by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the American Center for Outreach, the American Muslim Advisory Council, Amnesty International USA, the Arab American Institute, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Center for New Community, Color of Change, Muslim Advocates, the Michigan Muslim Community Council, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, NAACP, the National Network for Arab American Communities, the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the South Asian Americans Leading Together, T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, The Interfaith Center of New York, and UNITED SIKHS, here:
Conservative media outlets hyped a misleading Breitbart report on an "Islamic Tribunal using Sharia law" in Texas to fear monger that the tribunals could supersede federal law. But the tribunals are completely voluntary and do not override federal law.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) is defending his controversial allegation about purported immigrant "no-go zones" in Europe by citing the work of a group headed by Fox News contributor John Bolton. Fox News has helped propagate the myth, and was recently forced to repeatedly apologize for its role in spreading the claims.
During a speech this week in London, Jindal claimed some immigrants are trying "to colonize Western countries because setting up your own enclave and demanding recognition of a no-go zone are exactly that." He also said, according to prepared remarks: "In the West, non-assimilationist Muslims establish enclaves and carry out as much of Sharia law as they can without regard for the laws of the democratic countries which provided them a new home."
Jindal's remarks echoed a similar falsehood promoted by frequent Fox News guest Steve Emerson. The purported terrorism expert claimed that the English city of Birmingham is "totally Muslim" and a place "where non-Muslims just simply don't go in." Emerson and Fox News were subsequently forced to apologize. Fox also previously cited the alleged existence of "no-go zones."
What happened to the extended victory lap?
Convinced that last year's midterm losses for Democrats signaled the effective end of Barack Obama's presidency and a resounding victory for all-things conservative and Republican ("On Fox News, there were smiles all around"), just three weeks into the new year Fox News is left wondering what happened to the "lamest" of the lame duck presidents. The one Fox News was going to mock for two more years while trying to tarnish his legacy.
Rebounding to approval ratings not seen since 2013, Obama, instead of floundering, is riding a crest of post-midterm successes, while Americans reward him for the country's rebounding economy. The result: Obama's the one quietly circling the victory track.
"You can hardly tell from our NBC/WSJ poll that the Republican Party was the big winner from the midterm elections just two months ago," noted NBC's Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Carrie Dann this week. "Somehow, Obama and the Democrats stole the Republicans' post-election honeymoon."
If that didn't sting badly enough, Fox at the same time continues to wrestle with the unfolding crisis over the network's demonstrably false and stunning claim that some parts of Europe, including in France as well as Britain's second largest city, Birmingham, have become Islamic and are "no-go zones" for non-Muslims, including for British law enforcement.
The misstep became an international punch line, with observers in Europe guffawing at Fox News' trademark ignorance. "When I heard this, frankly, I choked on my porridge and I thought it must be April Fool's Day," British Prime Minister David Cameron told ITV News. "This guy is clearly a complete idiot," he said, referring to Steve Emerson, who Fox had hosted to discuss recent terror attacks in Paris.
In a rare move for Fox, it apologized repeatedly for its colossal "no-go zone" blunder. Yet the story continues to haunt the network: Paris' mayor, Anne Hidalgo, announced on Tuesday that the city might sue Fox News over the bogus claim that portions of Paris remain cordoned off from non-Muslims. "The image of Paris has been prejudiced, and the honor of Paris has been prejudiced," Hidalgo told CNN.
Bottom line: It's not even February and Fox News is already having a really bad year.
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that he had no role in hyping the myth that Muslim "no-go zones" exist throughout France, just days after Fox News apologized for spreading the fiction. In fact, O'Reilly previously cited the so called "no-go zones" as one of the contributing causes of the Paris terror attacks.
On January 17, Fox correspondent Julie Banderas apologized for the network's coverage "regarding the Muslim population in Europe" in the days following the terrorist attacks in Paris, explaining that there is no credible evidence to support the existence of Muslim "no-go zones." Several other Fox hosts offered additional apologies throughout the day.
On the January 20 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, during a discussion about the Parisian mayor Anne Hildalgo's announcement that she intends to sue Fox News for its "prejudiced" coverage following the attacks, O'Reilly denied that the Fox apology was about the Muslim "no-go zone" myth in France. He insisted that it was only about Steve Emerson's ludicrous claim that the entire English city of Birmingham was Muslim-only and nobody else went to the city. O'Reilly also denied that he had anything to do with the "no-go zones" claim (emphasis added):
O'REILLY: All right, we got a minute. The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, said she's going to sue Fox News for reporting on so-called no-go zones in Paris. They're dominated by Muslims and police hesitate to go in there -- at least that has been the reportage in some places. I didn't have anything to do with this. But I will point out that the mayor is a socialist.
But on January 9, O'Reilly cited Muslim "no-go zones" in France as a cause behind the terror attacks in Paris (emphasis added):
O'REILLY: France brought a lot of this terrorism on itself. We just talked about the no-go zones that they allow. They allow, 10 percent of the population is Muslim. They are all in there, they're radicalized, they don't assimilate.
UPDATE: O'Reilly also claimed that Fox News "isn't even seen in France, because they block it." But The Washington Post's Erik Wemple reports that a Fox spokesperson confirmed that the network reaches 13,680 homes in France but has a limited reach because it is only available in English and broadcasts on a U.S.-based schedule.
Days after Fox News apologized for promoting an embarrassing falsehood about England having "no-go zones" controlled by Muslim extremists, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) repeated the myth during a speech and on CNN.
Last week, frequent Fox guest Steve Emerson -- part of the network's stable of extremists who lead its conversation about Islam -- provoked international outrage with the false claim that the city of Birmingham is "totally Muslim" and a place "where non-Muslims just simply don't go in." (British Prime Minister David Cameron described Emerson as a "complete idiot," for example.)
As the Emerson controversy raged on, another Fox News guest argued that governments should "put razor wire around" the mythical "no-go zones" and catalogue the residents. On Saturday, Fox News host Jeanine Pirro apologized for Emerson's "incorrect" comments, telling viewers, "We deeply regret these errors and apologize to the people of Birmingham, our viewers and all who have been offended."
Despite Fox's retraction, the myth of no-go zones apparently lives on. During a speech in London, Gov. Jindal reportedly alleged that some immigrants are seeking "to colonize western countries, because setting up your own enclave and demanding recognition of a no-go zone are exactly that."
Appearing in an interview from London, Jindal also told CNN correspondent Max Foster that he's heard "from folks here" that "there are neighborhoods where women don't feel comfortable going in without veils" and "where police are less likely to go."
Foster challenged Jindal's assertion, noting that "I've lived here a long time, I don't know of any no-go zones for non-Muslims." In response, Jindal said "the radical left absolutely wants to pretend like this problem's not here."
Appearing on The Bill Press Show, Media Matters senior fellow Karen Finney discussed how Jindal was still repeating the falsehood.
Jindal's repetition of a Fox-fueled myth is representative of the role the network plays in misinforming conservatives. Falsehoods about death panels in health care reform, weapons of mass destruction, economics, and leaders like President Barack Obama, Secretary John Kerry and Secretary Hillary Clinton have all been grist for the mill on Fox and have become a part of conservative folklore.
From the January 18 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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From the January 17 edition of Fox News' Justice with Judge Jeanine:
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