There are two kinds of stories any experienced media watcher should always expect to be wrong in any mainstream press report—stories about guns and stories about religion. About 95% of reporters don’t know anything about either.
Sean Hannity should know this. But even though Bret Baier had done a terrific job of putting context to Reuters’ obvious set-up of the pope and Donald Trump 4 ½ hours before Sean’s broadcast, Hannity still channeled his inner Katrina Pierson in defending Trump against something the pontiff never said.
There are two things that Sean Hannity should have known by 10 p.m. Eastern time:
1. The pope never mentioned Donald Trump’s name, and
2. He never said people who build walls were not Christians.
Saying an attitude (or, frankly, any sin) is “not Christian” can also be a synonym for uncharitable. By that standard, we all do and think things that are “not Christian” every day. (Except Donald Trump, of course, who has never had to ask forgiveness.)
Speaking of uncharitable, let’s take a look at Sean Hannity venting his outrage at a “judgmental” pope last night. He called on two fundamentalist Baptists to join him in ripping the pope, while representing the Catholic side was Father Robert Sirico.
Hannity, in high dudgeon, and obviously only skimming the bio his producers prepared for him, introduced “Father Robert Ser-AH-co, a Grand Rapids area priest.”
But Father Sirico is not just some priest. He is the head of the Acton Institute, a free market-oriented Catholic think tank, a true intellectual, and a guy who is actually willing to take the other side when the pope expresses matters of personal opinion.
But Sean wasn’t looking to have a discussion. He was looking to vent on a guy with a collar, since he couldn’t book the pope, and he brought along two mediocre fundamentalist minds to help: Texas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress (who sells lots of middle brow books, thanks to Fox News), and Jerry Falwell, Jr., who had nothing to contribute to the conversation, other than to laud Trump. (Did anyone who doesn’t pay tuition to Liberty University even know there was a Fallwell, Jr. before the Trump endorsement?)
Sean, as is his wont, started off with his favorite verse (when it suits him), “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” Of course, he ignores that the meaning is that you should expect to be judged by the standard you set for others. He also, as usual, said he learned this when he attended seminary.
But wait, Sean knows two verses (and, possibly, Two Corinthians); the other, whose context he mangled in his outrage, is about not throwing stones. Yes, the two Bible verses every liberal knows and trots out, usually when responding to Hannity, whose very show is based on judging and throwing stones—and who then ironically proceeded to cluelessly throw a lot of stones.
Hannity, who has (legitimately) had plenty of favorable interviews with guests who questioned Barack Obama’s Christianity, demanded, “Who is the pope to say Donald Trump is not a Christian?”
When Sirico attempted to point out that Jeffress’ new book, Not all Roads Lead to Heaven, makes its own judgments, it became a disgraceful free for all. Hannity, who has obviously learned a lot from his new idol, went off topic and brought pedophile priests out of Left-left field and things went downhill from there.
Sirico tried to keep calm and point out that it takes judgment to call pedophile priests evil, but Falwell and Jeffress didn’t even have the good graces to point out that he was correct. It was Bash the Priest time, on behalf of their new idol, Donald Trump.
The low point had to be Jeffress calling Donald Trump a “martyr” and demanding that the pope apologize to him.
Sean needs to learn just one more verse—“By their fruit, ye shall know them.” At no time does the Bible condemn drawing conclusions about another’s actions. If Sean had the introspection of my Golden Retriever, he would take comfort in that verse, as it justifies how he makes his living.
In the interest of disclosure, Father Bob was always one of my favorite guests when I did talk radio part time for about ten years. He knew I was a Baptist, sitting in for a conservative Catholic, but treated me as a brother in Christ as we talked the issues of the day. He is not a flack for the pope, and Hannity could have had a great discussion in which all four people could have found a common ground on what really happened and why.
But that was never the intent of this organized lynch mob.
Speaking of what is “Christian,” I’m sure Father Bob has already forgiven Sean Hannity, and probably would have told me to let this go—or at least be a little kinder in my judgments. Well, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this behavior from Hannity, so I’ll go with that third verse until I see a little repentance.
Of course, I might not see it. My wife has banned Hannity from our television, which will free up a good five minutes a week for productive endeavors.