NYT Religion Correspondent: Other People’s Religions Are Funny

I mean, come on. Aren't they? Admit it. Just look at what those people DO. So weird, amirite?

By John Zmirak Published on September 30, 2017

Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times has written an anti-Semitic news story for that paper. The topic was Amy Coney Barrett, whom Donald Trump has appointed to a federal judicial court seat. The attack wasn’t actually on Judaism this time; it was on Barrett’s Catholicism. Still the piece used all the methods of classic anti-Semitism — the upper-crust, sneering sort of Jew-baiting you find between the lines of some T.S. Eliot poems.

Don’t think of mobs of German-American Bund members harassing Jewish peddlers here. Instead picture lily-white U.S. senators chortling over stogies as they agree to ban “those people” from fleeing to the U.S. from Nazi Europe. Nobody says words like “kike,” but the ships turn around and go back to Hamburg. That happened, of course, to thousands of Jews in the 1930s, real refugees with nowhere else to go.

Goodstein sneers and arches her eyebrows. She rolls her eyes and elbows her cronies. She gathers the pack to mock the religious outsider, while keeping her cosmopolitan credentials nicely intact. Goodstein as good as says: “I’ve nothing against Catholics per se. Why some of them are my best friends. Just look at the Kaines and the Bidens. They’re clean, articulate people. But these extremists in their midst. They’re so … un-American.”

Goodstein ferrets out and exposes for public view the most intimate spiritual and moral details of Ms. Barrett’s life. She writes them up in scare language, using dog whistles designed to whip secular readers into a panic.   

Some Religions Are More Equal Than Others

No New York Times piece would, or should, do something similar with an Orthodox Jewish or Sikh nominee. In fact, the Times never even gave adequate coverage to Huma Abedin’s close family ties to the terrorist-linked Muslim Brotherhood — though she came within a few electoral votes of becoming President Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff.

But an evangelical nominee would get this same treatment. In a heartbeat. The same paper that pretends there’s zero connection between Islam and sharia, much less terrorism, would treat a conservative Protestant with haughty alarm, squinting like a haughty British colonial governor at the “natives’ savage fetishes.”

This is ugly Americanism at its worst. Goodstein stalks around Barrett’s private religious beliefs and practices like a crass tourist in a Hindu temple, gnawing on a beef jerky and cracking elephant jokes. She can’t make a case that Barrett’s private religious preferences will in any way skew her reading of U.S. law.

No aspect of someone’s religion that doesn’t directly affect his view of citizenship or respect for the Constitution ought to be dragged out into the light and mocked by outsiders. No more should we hack into his email and read his love letters to his wife. Those can be pretty funny, too, to nasty strangers.

In fact, the only writing which Barrett’s critics could dig up to throw at her argued precisely the opposite — that if a Catholic judge found her conscience in conflict with the real intent of a law, she ought to recuse herself. That didn’t stop pro-choice senators like Dianne Feinstein and Richard Durbin from treating Barrett as likely some dangerous fanatic.

No aspect of someone’s religion that doesn’t directly affect his view of citizenship or respect for the Constitution ought to be dragged out into the light and mocked by outsiders. No more should we hack into his email and read his love letters to his wife. Those can be pretty funny, too, to nasty strangers.

Just Look at These People. Ew.

Now Goodstein has finished snooping around in the details of Barrett’s marriage, her friends and the sources of moral guidance that she leans on in private life. And she’s here in the nation’s newspaper of record to warn the rest of America how weird all the stuff she found is.

No, none of it is illegal. Nothing here is harmful to children. No one coerces anyone. Barrett belongs to a group of consenting adults that lean on each other for spiritual direction. They treat senior members of the group the way many people treat pastors or rabbis, turning to them for advice in key decisions. They take a traditional view of biblical marriage, and man and woman. And they take more literally than many Christians do the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

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But a sneering journalist can make it all sound pretty creepy and cult-like. If you read it, it might be to you. Because here’s the thing: On a surface level, other people’s religions are funny. Even within the same faith, the practices of one group can look like flim-flam or fanaticism to others.

Hey, Let’s Beat Up the [fill-in-the-blank]

I don’t have to list examples. Just think of the members of your group that take your faith “further” than you’re comfortable with. Or in what seems to you an eccentric direction. Don’t you cringe just a little bit? Feel tempted to scoff? With religions we see as more alien, the temptation is even stronger. That reaction is natural, but it is very far from admirable. It’s a grown-up version of school kids in New York City mocking the Hasidic boy for his earcurls and his clothes. We’re meant to grow out of that, or at least to be ashamed of it.

This is ugly Americanism at its worst.

But Goodstein is shameless. She fights for a sacred cause — the creed of secular hedonism, whose sacrament is abortion. She is desperate to rally her co-religionists against a serious threat. The danger doesn’t lie in Catholicism, or Christianity, per se. There are plenty of tame Catholics and Methodists in Congress, who long ago sold their consciences for thirty pieces of silver.

No the danger is that Americans of every religious creed will see how empty and hollow our new civic religion is. We pretend that “choice” is sacred, but admit that human life isn’t. We invent new rights for every sexual victim group as it is discovered, but wink as doctors exterminate the handicapped in the womb. The freedom that the Constitution has guaranteed since Planned Parenthood v. Casey really is just another word for nothing left to lose.

Conservatives really ought to start calling Anthony Kennedy “Justice Hefner” in public. Keep it up till he finally slinks off the court. Because it’s the haggard and flaccid Playboy Philosophy that now reigns supreme at the Court.

And Laurie Goodstein means to make sure things stay that way. She’ll fight as dirty as she needs to.

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  • handydan

    Jews in the media are the spokesmen for the political global structure which is eventually to dictate our lives. In the past I would have scoffed at this statement, but, in the last 20 or so years, the agenda is being exposed and put into place. “If you are not one of us, go”. It is a mixture of fascism/communism on a scale only thought of by fiction writers over a century ago. I am almost glad I am getting old. I try to be a good Catholic, and will do so until I die. Some people will not have that chance.

  • Howard Rosenbaum

    Yeah, viewed in the context of religious expression a practicing Catholic, Evangelical or perhaps orthodox Jew will appear somewhat removed from the cultural ‘norm’ as todays liberally biased media would project. Secularization is the nastiest religious expression of them all. It embraces a “healthy” mix of atheism, agnosticism & any number of other in the moment “isms” deemed appropriate. Most advocates of faith embrace one particular “expression” of it or another. That however is not the real issue w/proponents of “religious” bias. The real issue is that these ranting demagogues are simply allowing their favorite demons & demigods to pull the strings that they refuse to cut loose from. So sad ….

    • Tim Pan

      Don’t you think that secularism should be categorized as an ideology instead of a religion?

      • Rex Rhinesmith

        Romans 1:25 would seem to affirm Mr. Rosenbaum’s choice of terms.

        • Tim Pan

          I disagree. Secularism is not a religion.

          noun: secularism
          the principle of separation of the state from religious institutions.”he believes that secularism means no discrimination against anybody in the name of religion”

          • Rex Rhinesmith

            Thanks for the Google clip!

            In commenting about one of his books, scholar George Levine explains that the book’s aim is to “explore the idea that secularism is a positive, not a negative, condition, not a denial of the world of spirit and of religion, but an affirmation of the world we’re living in now; that building our world on a foundation of the secular is essential to our contemporary well-being; and that such a world is capable of bringing us to the condition of ‘fullness’ that religion has always promised.”

            It is this appeal and allusion to the creation and force for the creature that shapes my use of the term. Referring then to your pasted and explicitly correct definition, “separation of the state from religious institutions”, the contemporary outworking of the amendment also confers focus on the creature, which St. Paul describes in “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.”

            Humanity generally forgives artistic license if not overly elastic.

          • Tim Pan

            I may have to pick up Georges book it sounds interesting. Is this the title of the book you are reading? Global Secularisms in a Post-Secular Age (Religion and Its Others)

          • Rex Rhinesmith

            No, it is a collection entitled “The Joy of Secularism: 11 Essays for How We Live Now”.
            Happy reading, mon ami!

          • Tim Pan

            Thanks I will check it out. Before we part may I ask you if you are a man of faith? If you are which one? Thanks!

          • Rex Rhinesmith

            You certainly may ask! It is my favorite question!

            Our heavenly Father, over two evenings spent with a faithful missionary couple who met my every question with scripture, drew me to Christ (as John 6:44 describes) through whose ultimate travails I was saved. I had been, until that time, a happy epistemic agnostic…a math/statistics/physics type. I say that only to suggest to whomever might be listening that reason comports nicely with both the things of God and the material world.

            Thanks for asking, and I pray that if you have not begun a walk with Christ, you will consider it with an open mind and heart. As St. Paul said, “Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am.” I can testify to you that life with Him is abundant beyond description and beyond duration.

            Be blessed and well, Tim!

          • Tim Pan

            Thank you Rex. I have been carrying the Lords cross for many many years.

          • ncsugrant

            Sorry to jump in here, but this is the heart of the problem. Secularists have been allowed to define all of the terms. We all believe SOMETHING. It is a farce to claim that you have no belief.
            If you are a secularist, you believe that there is no God who created the world. That is their “religion”.
            As for discriminating against anybody, they have literally written the book on the subject. All levels of government have been encoded with secularism. Try deviating from their script in the public square.

          • Tim Pan

            Come on in the waters fine. But my point was secularism is not a religion. By definition it can not be a religion. I have read that the supreme court called it a religion.

            “It has occasionally been argued that in Torcaso v. Watkins the Supreme Court “found” secular humanism
            to be a religion. This assertion is based on a reference, by Justice
            Black in footnote number 11 of the Court’s finding, to court cases where
            organized groups of self-identified humanists, or ethicists, meeting on
            a regular basis to share and celebrate their beliefs, have been granted
            religious-based tax exemptions.

            Justice Black’s use of the term “secular humanism” in his footnote
            has been seized upon by some religious groups, such as those supporting
            causes such as teaching creationism in schools, as a “finding” that any secular or non-observable evolution-based activity is, in fact, religion.”

            Well the gods in black robes may conceive it as a religion for therreasons cited above , but if definitions mean anything at all secular humanism is not a religion.

          • ncsugrant

            I guess it depends on who is defining the terms, which is my point.
            One who claims there is no God is not one who is without religious views.
            The Bible says we all worship someone or something. Secularists are covered by this definition, no?

          • Tim Pan

            The left and to a certain extent the right always subtly blur the language and key symbols to confuse and then displace the meanings of things they wish to eliminate or transcend. The co-opting of the the rainbow by the homosexual community is one example. The word Worship is the exclusive domain of the divine. Therefore it can not be applied to non-religious images or ideas.

          • ncsugrant

            I am not really want to get into an argument, but we are admonished not to “worship false idols”.

  • Craig Roberts

    Religion is weird. All religions. Wild and wonderfully weird. The very human need to learn about, find, and worship the reason for our existence is so basic that it boggles the mind that there are some people NOT interested in it.

  • Patmos

    You’d think the pride that plagues so many on the left would eventually start to crumble, just out of common sense if nothing else, but instead it just seems to be getting worse. In their mind they know everything. Point out where they’re wrong with evidence to support your case, and they just double down, perhaps driven by the sense of scorn that burns inside of them at having been proven wrong. I wouldn’t have that big of a problem with it if the plague wasn’t so rampant.

  • Emma

    After reading the article I can find very little of the sneering condescension you say it contains. While the fact that the author finds it necessary to list everything as she does may in itself be alarmist, let’s not pretend that she doesn’t present voices from both sides of the topic at hand. And as far as Barrett’s previous writings regarding recusing oneself when matters at odds with one’s religious beliefs appear, contrary to what you imply here, at the hearing she actually distanced herself from this statement.
    And all of this isn’t even touching on your opening statement: “Laurie Goodstein…has written an anti-Semitic news story for [the] paper.” No, she hasn’t. Anti-Semiticism is a specific, concrete, real thing. If you must co-opt the oppression of another group of people to prove your point, you have lost your credibility. By all means continue to talk about anti-Catholic bias in American politics, but do not pretend that bias is comparable to the centuries of cruelty, oppression, and outright genocide that the Jews have experienced.

    • Patmos

      ISIS is chopping off the heads of Christians in the Middle East, though yes I understand why you might not be aware of this because of the media protecting their Messiah’s (Obama) bad policies and general aloofness regarding the matter.

      There’s a reason why you protect religious freedom in this country, and call out even petty attempts that encroach on that freedom like this one referred to here from The NY Times. I shouldn’t have to explain what that reason is.

      • Leah

        Protecting religious freedom is of the utmost importance, and there is a necessary, nuanced discussion to be had about the Barrett debacle, including Feinstein’s smug “the dogma lives loudly within you” statement (gross). However, this article makes strong statements about the tone and substance of the NYT piece that are simply unsubstantiated. It’s telling that the author didn’t quote the original piece once.

    • Zmirak

      What sophistry. I nowhere said that anti-Catholicism as a phenomenon is comparable to anti-Semitism. So I’m not “pretending” that. I said that the “otherizing” rhetoric and contemptuous exposure of private religious practices were comparable to anti-Semitic rhetoric, and they are. They remind me, in fact, of public denunciations of the Talmud, common in Christian history. If you can’t keep straight what I said and didn’t say, I see no need to respond further.

      • Leah

        You use the term “anti-Semitic” when you mean “anti-Catholic,” but accuse me of sophistry. No matter how you cut it, your first sentence was still “Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times has written an anti-Semitic article” not “Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times has written an anti-Catholic article.” Even going on to say that “[this] attack wasn’t actually on Judaism this time,” you still do not get to re-define “anti-Semitic” as “anti-Catholic.” That’s simply not what it means. I understand what your intent was, but your phrasing is either intentionally inflammatory or wildly clumsy, and either way your little snark that I “can’t keep straight what [you] said and didn’t say,” is rather silly, considering the ONLY things I’m basing these remarks on are direct quotations from your piece.

        • pescher

          Leah; You need to read the entire article before you react. The third sentence includes the qualifier, namely “The attack wasn’t actually on Judaism…” which means that the ”attack’ must be on something else but is similar in some ways to anti-Semitic diatribes. Nb. my reply contains two sentences so don’t quit after the word “react”.

          • Leah

            I actually quoted that line as well, so perhaps your own reading of my comment stopped a little early. The way the article opens, it’s like beginning a news piece with a statement that “the event that is taking place is racist. This time though, the victim is being targeted for her gender, not her race.” We have a word for that, why not use it? And I’ll quote the rest of my previous comment as well, in case you missed it: “I understand what [the author’s] intent was, [pointing out parallels between anti-semitic and anti-catholic rhetoric], but your phrasing is either intentionally inflammatory or wildly clumsy.”

          • pescher

            Yes you did (thank you) but I was responding to your comment posted 5 days ago-my bad. However, my comment still stands as it demonstrates (see your second paragraph) the frozen’ mindset or knee-jerk reaction with which many respond when they read the viewpoint of those with whom they disagree. Your use of co-opting reflects this mindset. My comment is in no way intentionally inflammatory or wildly clumsy -maybe a weak attempt at sarcasm-but your labelling it by these two descriptions reveals another trait of the close-minded namely an esoteric gift to know what is ‘really’ meant and often even the motives of same.

          • Leah

            The inflammatory/clumsy statement was in reference to the article and not your comment, which is why I posted it again (you seemed to have not seen it).

          • Leah

            First, the author says I’m putting words into his mouth when I had quoted his own words, and second, you say I clearly didn’t read the article, using a specific sentence from the article as proof, even though I had myself quoted that same sentence. How on earth am I the one demonstrating knee-jerk reactions to opinions different from my own?

      • Wiffle

        I don’t know if you will see this, but I’ve read your new book which was very good.

        The only topic that’s left me cold your books in fact the intertwining of anti-Semitism and anti-Catholic bigotry.

        I think we Catholics need to drop out of the Victim Olympics. I think we need to stop worrying about antisemitism because it makes not understand that we’re here to convert Jews too. They will go to Hell if they cannot accept in the afterlife that Christ is the Son of God.

        That’s not the same as condoning anti-semitism. Not at all. I do not.

        But the secular culture has anti-Semitisim down. Catholic causes gain nothing by jumping on the “we’re nice to Jewish people” bandwagon. In fact, a lot of young people are now very turned off by such attempts to virtue signal. The Jews have Holocaust Remembrance Day. We don’t have the 30 Years War Remembrance Day.

        Just something to think about.

  • Devieg72

    Religion writers for major newspapers are really useless. They, like their colleagues reporting secular news, are always looking for the novel and the unusual. A Catholic bishop proclaiming a month The Month of the Rosary in his diocese is not really news. A bishop carrying a rainbow rosary is news. That’s what the modern religion reporter/opinion writer wants to write on in a major newspaper…Also, most religion writers for newspapers have no background in religion in the same way that science writer for newspapers have no background in science. Their backgrounds are in journalism, which means being a needle looking for a balloon….Years ago the L.A. Times had a couple of great religion writers — Russell Chandler and John Dart. Chandler was trained in religion and used to occasionally preach in Christian pulpits…But now everything in religion is a balloon and Goodstein sees herself as the sharpest needle. Which is pretty sad. Needles dull really fast and just become back scratchers.

    • ncsugrant

      The recent musings of Sally Quinn come to mind. I suspect Ms. Goodstein is trying to impress her and the other “free thinkers” who claim to be journalists.

  • Winston Churchill

    These so called journalists attack Christians & Jews constantly, but have no problem with Islam. They are cowards whom attack easy targets. Religion is a personal choice, which may look ridiculous from the outside. Perhaps someone should investigate her personal life and see her reaction.

  • Jane

    This is the BEST statement I’ve ever heard about the current Holocaust of developing humans and other “non-desirable” people that the Left decides shouldn’t be allowed to live!!!!!!!! Thank you!!!!! Maybe THIS sentiment will FINALLY get to these murderers to change their evil view! “No the danger is that Americans of every religious creed will see how
    empty and hollow our new civic religion is. We pretend that “choice” is
    sacred, but admit that human life isn’t. We invent new rights for every
    sexual victim group as it is discovered, but wink as doctors exterminate
    the handicapped in the womb. The freedom that the Constitution has
    guaranteed since Planned Parenthood v. Casey really is just another word for nothing left to lose”.

  • Aliquantillus

    Very to the point. Exactly what the NYT considers to be rightist “Trump” ideology, i.e. White Nativist Americanism, shows its true colours in the ideology of the NYT itself, albeit now obviously in a liberal-leftist way.

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