I can't say I was expecting to find coverage of a religion angle in the brouhaha surrounding community organizing group ACORN, but we have one.
For those who don't know, federally funded community organizing group ACORN -- a group with strong ties to President Obama -- has been subject to an undercover journalist sting. For the last week, two young conservative journalists have been releasing videos of ACORN employees (including some from my neighborhood here in DC) advising people posing as a pimp and prostitute how they can best handle their business. The videos show the undercover journalists asking for advice on how to handle the underage girls they plan to bring into the country illegally -- and the employees telling them how to avoid the law or write the sex slaves off as dependents. It's not ACORN's finest moment. The group, after a week of complaining it was being victimized by the journalists, has now admitted it needs to clean up its act.
Anyhow, there have been some fascinating media angles. Namely, much of the mainstream media had been choosing to ignore the story. It's all over FOXNews and the blogosphere -- particularly the conservative blogosphere -- but the first story the New York Times ran about the sting was after the Senate had already voted to cut off some of the funds the group receives. And that story wasn't about the sting so much as about conservative opposition to the group. An odd way to introduce the topic to readers, it would seem. A previous repeat of an Associated Press story (about how Census was dropping ACORN from one of its programs in light of the undercover journalism) published in the Times managed to delete the portion explaining the pimp and prostitute. Other media outlets have been similarly reticent.
But check out the latest Washington Post piece about ACORN's change of tune. It includes this portion describing the 20-year-old woman who plays the part of the prostitute:
James O'Keefe, a self-described filmmaker, and Hannah Giles, the eldest daughter of a conservative Christian minister in Miami, visited ACORN offices in the summer. An ACORN spokesman said they were turned away in Miami, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, where workers called police and filed a report. But workers welcomed them in the other cities.
Giles is a journalism novice who has written two columns for the conservative Web site Townhall.com. Her father, Doug Giles, serves as minister of the ultra-conservative ClashChurch near Miami, where he proclaimed that liberals "spit on the Word of God," according to a report by the Miami New Times.
I don't know why this passage makes me laugh, but it does. Beginning with the unnecessarily snarky "self-described" before the word filmmaker (he either is or he isn't, and given that he's releasing videos every day at BigGovernment.com, I think we can go ahead and drop the "self-described").
But the best part is the description of ClashChurch as "ultra-conservative." As the reader who sent the piece in asks:
Ultraconservative how? SSPX ultraconservative? Benedict XVI ultraconservative? Old Believer or Old Calendarist ultra conservative? Probably not, but come on, let's be more precise when describing these strange creatures called (ultra)conservative Christians.
I wonder what reporter Darryl Fears means when he describes the church as "ultra-conservative." The supplemental quote about, allegedly, liberals who "spit on the Word of God" has even less context. I went to the original report by the Miami New Times. To give you an idea of where that paper is coming from editorially speaking, the same article describes columns by William F. Buckley as conservative "screeds." Because "screed" is definitely the word to use when describing the writing of WFB, Jr., no? The original 2006 piece, reproduced here, says this:
The Aventura minister uses his column to lash out against liberals, who he says "spit on the Word of God."
And here's the quote from that conservative column as it was originally written at least two years prior to that:
Liberalism has been hijacked by bizarre special-interest thugs who spit on the Word of God and believe that the Bible has no place in public life, (except maybe in a museum where people can look at it from time to time).
So while I'm sure there's even more context somewhere around that line, at the very least the Miami New Times didn't quite get the quote right. I'm not entirely sure what Fears thinks the column writing of "novice" journalist Hanna Giles' father has to do with her work, per se, but if you're going to tie the two together, at least do a bit of homework.
Anyway, you can see what the "ultra-conservative" church says its theological views are here but below is a portion:
What We Believe Eternity Man was created to exist forever. He will either exist eternally separated from God by sin, or in union with God, through forgiveness and salvation. To be eternally separated from God is Hell. To be eternally in union with Him is eternal life. Heaven and Hell are places of eternal existence. John 3:16; I John 2:25 & 5:11-13; Romans 6:23; Revelation 20:15
Jesus Christ Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is co-equal with the Father. Jesus lived a sinless human life and offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all men by dying on a cross. He arose from the dead after three days to demonstrate His power over sin and death. He ascended to Heaven's glory and will return again to earth to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Matthew 1:22-23; Isaiah 9:6; John 1:1-5 & 14:10-30; Hebrews 4:14-15; I Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 1:3-4; Acts 1:9-11; I Timothy 6:14-15; Titus 2:13
Salvation Salvation is a gift from God to man. Man can never make up for his sin by self-improvement or good works. Only by trusting in Jesus Christ as God's offer of forgiveness can man be saved from sin's penalty. Eternal life begins the moment one receives Jesus Christ into his life by faith. Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 14:6 & 1:12; Titus 3:5; Galatians 3:26; Romans 5:1
Are these theological views now considered "ultra-conservative" by the Washington Post? Is there something else about the church that makes it ultra-conservative? Is the Washington Post instead describing the political or cultural views of the pastor as "ultra-conservative"? He actually seems to fit many other adjectives better than "ultra-conservative." He's very colorful, to put it mildly. Anyway, it seems that if we're going to use that word, it should be pretty easy to substantiate it somehow.