On the September 7 broadcast of Fox News' Fox & Friends, the hosts echoed a story by Fox News Radio's Todd Starnes about the Southern Baptist Convention's (SBC) outrage that an evangelical Christian was not invited to speak at a September 11 interfaith prayer vigil at the National Cathedral, while members of other faiths -- including a Buddhist nun and a Hindu priest -- would be participating.
The National Cathedral prayer vigil is part of three-day long event, "A Call to Compassion," in remembrance of the September 11, 2001, attacks. The interfaith prayer vigil is the first of four events on September 11 and features:
Cathedral Dean Samuel T. Lloyd III; Bishop of Washington John Bryson Chane; Rabbi Bruce Lustig, Washington Hebrew Congregation; Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche of Tibet, Buddhist nun and incarnate lama; D.C. Rao, a Hindu priest serving on the board of directors of the Inter Faith Conference; Imam Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America; and musician Hamayan Kahn.
On Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson ran with the SBC's outrage and suggested that organizers of the interfaith prayer vigil were concerned about "political correctness" because they did not invite an evangelical representative while allowing "all these really sort of fringe groups" to participate. From the broadcast:
CARLSON: Let's talk about this as September 11, the 10th anniversary comes upon us this Sunday, there are going to be a lot of events. We'll be down at ground zero with a special broadcast for you for four hours on Sunday. And the president is going to be at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., Sunday night for a special, what's being billed as a call to compassion. It's going to have an interfaith prayer vigil from all denominations, really. We were talking about this earlier. We're going to have a Buddhist nun, which we didn't even know existed.
BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): But it is heartening to know they do.
CARLSON: They're going to be represented there. An imam is going to be there. But one particular group that has a relatively large population throughout the United States has not been asked to attend.
KILMEADE: And who are they, Steve?
STEVE DOOCY (co-host): Those would be the Southern - the Southern Baptists. And they're, what they're saying is, you know what? We're being excluded, and we would like the president not to attend. To be inclusive, well let's give you the list. They're going to - it's going to feature the Dean of the Cathedral, the bishop of Washington, a Rabbi, a Buddhist nun, an incarnate lama and a -- a Hindu priest--
KILMEADE: An incarnate lama?
DOOCY: Yeah. The president of the Islamic Society of North America and a Muslim Musician. So you got to figure they were just probably checking things off, you know, a list. OK, we've got some Christians, we've got this, we've got that.
KILMEADE: Well, what didn't they check?
DOOCY: Well there is, I don't think, I don't think there is a Catholic involved there. And, so - but there are Christians.
KILMEADE: But maybe the Muslim musician can play a Catholic song.
DOOCY: Maybe. So, anyway, the Southern Baptists are saying, why are we not included? And they're hoping that the president won't show up.
CARLSON: Does this talk a little bit too much about political correctness in our society? Sorry. I'm just going to say it. I mean, if you're going to include all these really sort of fringe groups, I don't know how many Buddhist nuns are in the United States, but I know one thing for sure, there are more Baptists than there are Buddhist nuns. So if you're really going to try and be inclusive for everyone and abide by this whole PC culture that we live in now, you would think that you would include a big population of our country.
KILMEADE: Right. I think you could fit all the Buddhist nuns in our country in a phone booth, should we have them.
DOOCY: Who still, right, who still has phone booths? Exactly.
KILMEADE: You got to go to England.
It's not exactly clear which religions Carlson meant to call "fringe groups," but Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam are hardly fringe groups in the United States. Domestically, an estimated 6 million people are identified as Jewish; 2 to 4 million Buddhist; 1 million Hindu; and 6 million Muslim.
Perhaps this isn't surprising, as Carlson has previously said that Christians are "under attack" from "political correctness" and has been one of Fox's leading voices in the network's relentless defense against perceived attacks on Christianity.