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NY Times Pulls Curious Act of Religious Discrimination… Or Does It?

March 18, 2012

I don’t always read Fox News, but when I do, it’s because they have an interesting bit of religion news.

In the fallout from the New York Times running a print ad on March 9 calling Catholics to leave their church, media conspiracy theorists all over the nation were shocked to find out that the Times just declined to run an ad from the notorious Pamela Geller calling on Muslims to do the same thing.

Now, in regards to the anti-Catholic ad, we have to recognize that the Times was essentially caught between a rock and a hard place, with the rock being the First Amendment and the hard place being the pissed-off Catholic church. They sided with the First Amendment, and that’s their decision. It doesn’t (and shouldn’t) affect anyone’s views of their journalism, because just like with the Lantern, their advertising department operates pretty independently of its actual journalistic side.

The ad – which includes the damning line, “Can you see how misplaced your loyalty is after two decades of sex scandals involving preying priests, church complicity, collusion and cover-up going all the way to the top… Join those of us who put humanity above dogma” – is certainly unkind to devout Catholics, and I think it’s worth pointing out that despite my secular leanings, I’m no fan of many of the “Freedom From Religion” groups across America.

But in regards to the anti-Islam ad, I actually applaud the Times’ staff’s decision to not run it. While it’s unclear exactly what day Geller submitted the ad for them to publish, the letter from the Times staff declining to run it is dated March 13 – three days after the massacre in Afghanistan that inflamed tensions between the U.S. and the Middle East. For the Times to run the ad at that point could have made things even worse, if the Taliban or other influential players in Afghanistan found out about it.

So the rock and hard place in the second case were consistency and the safety of our troops, respectively – and regardless of your views on the war in Afghanistan, it’s not wise to go spreading Geller’s bullshit propaganda in any way that could make our situation worse.

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