EDITORIAL: Stop Misinforming Americans: Part One
Tony Perkins and Fox News teamed up Thursday morning, just after PresidentÂ Donald Trump at the National Prayer Breakfast promised to “totally destroy” the Johnson Amendment, to misinform viewers about what the law does and does not do. While no one should be surprisedÂ the leader of a certified anti-gay hate group would be embraced by Fox News, it was an offensive display of the miseducation of America.
The Johnson Amendment, named for then-Senator Lyndon Johnson, is a half-century old law prohibiting churches, religious institutions, and some non-profits from endorsing political candidates.Â
What it does not do is stop them from preaching their faith, from endorsing or opposing political or social issues, contrary to what Perkins and Fox News just claimed.
So, if a preacher, rabbi, priest, pastor, imam, or other religious leader, or even the CEO of a faith-based non-profit wants to denounce same-sex marriage, or even claim homosexuality is a sin, they can do that, with no concern the IRS will strip away their tax-exewmot status. And that’s really what this is all about: money. Many churches and other religious non-profits have become multi-million and multi-billion dollar corporations, thanks in part to the fact that they and their employees often pay zero taxes.
That tax-exempt status costs tax-paying citizens well over $80 billion a year. In other words, every man, woman, and child in America on average pays about $250 a year extra in taxes so churches don’t have to. More, actually, if you deduct the people who are tax-exempt.
Some say it’s a small price to pay for freedom of religion, but the religious right that opposes the Johnson Amendment want their cake and they want to eat it tooÂ â€“ and they want taxpayers to pay for it.
So they lie, and they turn to platforms like Fox News to help them misinform Americans.
Here’s what aÂ Fox News host said about the Johnson Amendment today:
“It essentially makes most churches and religious leaders feel that their hands are tied, that if they express any endorsement of any particular religious position or party pr person who’s running for office that they risk their tax-exempt status.”
Perkins immediately supported the Fox News host’s false statement, saying, “correct.”
Notice the word “feel.”
There law, which is very readily accessible on the IRS’ website, makes very clear what the rules are. And those who oppose the law most know that the IRS has almost never stripped a religious entity’s tax exempt status for violating the Johnson AmendmentÂ â€“ and perhaps they should start.
For a decade this statement has lived on the IRS’ website: “…these organizations can engage in advocating for or against issues and, to a limited extent, ballot initiatives or other legislative activities.”
Also not correct is the claim of “mostÂ churches and religious leaders.” In fact, in light of President Trump’s announcementÂ that he will “destroy” the Johnson Amendment, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, which represents thousandsÂ of Southern Baptist Convention churches and individuals nationwide â€“Â one of the largest religious groups in the nation â€“Â issued a statement denouncing the president’s intention:
â€œPoliticizing churches does them no favors. The promised repeal is an attack on the integrity of both our charitable organizations and campaign finance system.
Inviting churches to intervene in campaigns with tax-deductible dollars would fundamentally change our houses of worship. It would usher our partisan divisions into the pews and harm the churchâ€™s ability to provide refuge.
To change the law would hinder the churchâ€™s prophetic witness, threatening to turn pulpit prophets into political puppets.â€
They know that repealing the Johnson Amendment is a sure-fire way to impoverish churches, especially smaller ones who struggle to stay afloat.Â
But that’s really why Trump wants to repeal the law: he wants the cash to fuel his re-election, which he has already filed for.
Trump is no great Christian warrior. He is using the cause of “religious liberty” to line his campaign treasury and to get votes. How very un-Christian.
Enjoy this piece?
… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.
NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.
Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.
‘Good Riddance’: Experts Blame Rupert Murdoch for ‘Intellectual and Moral Decay’ of America, Issue Warning on Future
Rupert Murdoch‘s announcement he is stepping down as chairman of Fox Corp. and News Corp. circulated rapidly Thursday morning, with critics celebrating the exit of the billionaire media mogul some are blaming for the “intellectual and moral decay of our society.”
Murdoch created Fox News, which he launched in October of 1996. His massive empire also includes the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal, along with dozens of other media outlets in the U.S. and around the world.
“I have decided to transition to the role of Chairman Emeritus at Fox and News,” his letter, addressed to “Dear Colleagues,” reads. One of his sons, Lachlan Murdoch, “will become sole Chairman of both companies.”
“My father firmly believed in freedom,” Murdoch adds, “and Lachlan is absolutely committed to the cause. Self-serving bureaucracies are seeking to silence those who would question their provenance and purpose. Elites have open contempt for those who are not members of their rarefied class. Most of the media is in cahoots with those elites, peddling political narratives rather than pursuing the truth,” he claimed.
The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake was among the many who pointed to Murdoch’s “elites” remark.
“Murdoch in his letter: ‘Most of the media is in cahoots with those elites, peddling political narratives rather than pursuing the truth,'” Blake writes, before pointing to court documents from the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit Fox News settled for $787 million. “Murdoch in the Dominion documents: Showing exceeding concern about angering the most powerful man in the world [Donald Trump] by telling the truth.”
Murdoch in his letter: “Most of the media is in cahoots with those elites, peddling political narratives rather than pursuing the truth.”
Murdoch in the Dominion documents: Showing exceeding concern about angering the most powerful man in the world by telling the truth. pic.twitter.com/yd980z5qkG
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) September 21, 2023
Author, editor, and professor of international relations, Nicholas Grossman, also focused on Murdoch’s “elites” remark.
“Rupert Murdoch’s parents had the titles of Sir and Dame. He’s a multi-billionaire, and very influential, owning prominent news outlets in the US, UK, and Australia. The notion that Murdoch, of all people, is not elite, and not in cahoots with media, is ridiculous, absurd, insane.”
Although Murdoch’s move is not effective until the shareholders’ meeting in November, his announcement comes just one day after a Vanity Fair interview with author Michael Wolff: “Murdoch Chronicler Michael Wolff Foresees the Fall of Fox News: ‘It Will Cease to Exist in Its Present Form.'”
“Now, with The Fall: The End of Fox News and the Murdoch Dynasty, Wolff has directed his poison pen back to a topic that helped make his name,” Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo writes.
Wolff’s focus is on what happens to Fox News after the 92-year old Rupert Murdoch dies, and how his more liberal son James might impact the media empire.
“I think it will cease to exist in its present form,” after Murdoch’s death said Wolff. “I think it will go into a radical transition in which, either James Murdoch will take over and change it into something else, or they will sell it. Fox has existed in its present state just for one reason: It’s controlled by Rupert Murdoch, who is the one man who can stand up, or has been able to stand up, to the political and social opprobrium at a fierce, fierce level, and to do this for the sake of making enormous amounts of money. But when he departs, that changes very clearly and very quickly.”
Wolff added he thinks the “logical” decision will be to sell off Fox News.
“I think it’s more logical, at any rate, to sell the whole damn thing. And I think the position that cable television news is not going to get more valuable, it’s only going to get less valuable, is persuasive.”
Wolff Thursday morning reposted this photo:
Michael Wolff at his book launch explaining that the end of the Murdoch era will come sooner rather than later about 13 hours before Murdoch announces his retirement. Not bad. https://t.co/Eon2eRFR1U pic.twitter.com/1wSFEiVCFy
— thomas beller (@thomasbeller) September 21, 2023
Political and journalism experts, like foreign policy, national security and political affairs analyst and commentator David Rothkopf, on Thursday cheered the Murdoch news and denounced his reign.
“On this happy day on which Rupert Murdoch has announced his retirement, let us reflect on the fact that no single individual has done more damage to Western democracy or more for the intellectual and moral decay of our society during the past half century than Rupert. Good riddance,” wrote Rothkopf.
“I believe one could accurately argue that Rupert Murdoch did more to corrode American democracy and fuel division than any other individual in modern history,” wrote veteran intelligence officer, activist, and social media personality Travis Akers. “His departure from Fox News leaves a wake of public distrust, violence, and a nation in a cold civil war.”
Author and former Chicago Tribune editor Mark Jacob adds, “Millions of Americans are more ignorant and less loyal to our democracy because they got their’news’ from Rupert Murdoch.”
MSNBC’s Medhi Hassan wrote: “As Rupert Murdoch announces his ‘retirement’, a reminder that some of the worst things we have had to experience in recent years – the Iraq war, the rise of Trump, the Big Election Lie – are all thanks to him and to Fox.”
Media Matters for America President Angelo Carusone served up this warning:
“Lachlan Murdoch is worse than Rupert Murdoch, so you’ll basically just get a more malevolent version of Fox that will also be even more chaotic since Lachlan is both a less competent leader and Fox is facing an especially turbulent period that Lachlan has no idea how to navigate.”
With an eye to the future, veteran journalist Kara Swisher offered this on Lachlan Murdoch: “Prediction: It will be a short reign of the crown prince — after the old man goes, the other siblings will have the con and it will all be sold off (Elon? Right leaning PE firm or media org?).”
Media Matters’ Madeline Peltz also glimpsed into what the future might look like under Lachlan’s leadership.
“Lachlan Murdoch is now the sole chairman of his family’s media empire. He is a dangerous ideologue who unwaveringly backed Tucker Carlson’s white supremacy on the network,” Peltz said, referring to the now-former top Fox News host. She added: “Murdoch was the number one champion of Tucker Carlson, even as he cost Fox News millions in ad revenue and spread dangerous extremism that inspired acts of right-wing terrorism around the world.”
See the social media posts above or at this link.
Image via Shutterstock
‘We’re Not There Yet’: House Republican Hasn’t Seen Any Evidence to ‘Get Anywhere Near Impeachment’
Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY) hasn’t seen anything worthy of impeachment dredged up by the House Republican investigations of President Joe Biden and his family.
The New York Republican, who recently ripped his GOP colleagues as a “clown show” over their failure to produce a government spending agreement, told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that he’s dubious of the impeachment inquiry launched by House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and suggested the process was being undertaken as revenge for Donald Trump’s two impeachments.
“Look, these investigations obviously started earlier this year in Oversight and Judiciary [and] they are continuing,” Lawler said. “As I have said repeatedly, we are not there yet with impeachment. There is a very high bar. It should not be political, it should not be tit-for-tat, and the facts and the evidence will determine what, if any steps are taken after this.”
At the end of the day, you know, a lot of this is semantics – it’s a continuation of the investigation,” the congressman added. “The ultimate question is whether or not the facts or evidence would bear out that Joe Biden somehow financially benefited from his son’s deals with Russian oligarchs, Ukrainian oligarchs, Iranian business folks and the Chinese. If that’s the case, the facts and evidence will show that, and if not, I don’t see how you get anywhere near impeachment.”
White House Mocks GOP With ‘Worst Person You Know’ Meme After Matt Gaetz Blames McCarthy for Shutdown
In a rare move the Biden White House on Wednesday mocked House Republicans with a popular internet meme to highlight remarks made by U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz that show how the Florida Republican is blaming the impending, likely shutdown of the federal government on Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Congressman Gaetz specifically says “We cannot blame Joe Biden” and “We cannot blame House Democrats” for it.
Gaetz, who did not vote to hand McCarthy the gavel back in January, for weeks has increasingly been targeting the House Speaker. Last week he threatened he would get McCarthy removed as Speaker, going as far as to say he was “out of compliance.” On Tuesday a reporter found a resolution with links to Gaetz declaring the Office of the Speaker “vacant” on a baby changing table in a House restroom.
Fox News’ Liz Elkind reported on Gaetz’s comments via social media, “MATT GAETZ pins shutdown on McCarthy: ‘We will have a government shutdown and it is absolutely Speaker McCarthy’s fault. We cannot blame Joe Biden for not having moved our individual spending bills. We cannot blame House Democrats. We can’t even blame Chuck Schumer in the Senate.”
The White House reposted them, and the “worst person” meme, known as the “Heartbreaking: The Worst Person You Know Just Made A Great Point.” The meme was published in 2018 by Clickhole. a satirical website.
The federal government will shut down in 10 days if Speaker McCarthy cannot pass legislation to keep the government funded after September 30. That legislation will need to be acceptable to the Senate, and President Joe Biden. House Republicans, intent on stripping funding for Ukraine, defunding Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigations, along with the Dept. of Justice and FBI, are digging in their heels amid “chaos” and “infighting.” Some have called it a GOP “civil war.”
See the White House’s post below or at this link.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 20, 2023
- News3 days ago
‘Leopards Eating People’s Faces Party’: McCarthy and Far Right Republicans Mocked as GOP Divide Grows Even Greater
- News2 days ago
Legal Expert Points to Another Trump Confession That ‘Got Very Little Attention’
- News2 days ago
‘Grabbing the Hog During a Live Musical’: Fetterman Mocks Fox News and Boebert Over Dress Code Outrage
- News3 days ago
‘Another Alleged Instance of Obstruction’: New ‘Rock Crusher’ Revelation Makes Case Against Trump Even Stronger Expert Says
- OPINION3 days ago
‘I Dress Like He Campaigns’: Fetterman Smacks Down DeSantis Amid Sweeping Right Wing Attack on His Attire
- News24 hours ago
‘Knock It Off’: Matt Gaetz Thinks Merrick Garland Should Tell the President to Not Allow Hunter Biden at State Dinners
- OPINION2 days ago
‘Declaring the Office of Speaker to Be Vacant’: Reporter Finds Possible Gaetz Resolution in House Restroom
- News3 days ago
‘They Would Have Done It to Us’: Trump Thinks Republicans Can Remove Biden From Office Through 25th Amendment