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Why Did The Washington Post Tweet A Debunked Hit Piece On the Existence of Jesus?
The Federalist ^ | 01/03/2018 | David Marcus

Posted on 01/03/2018 9:11:02 AM PST by SeekAndFind

Controversy erupted over Christmas week when the Washington Post tweeted out an opinion article by Raphael Lataster they had published in 2014. It claims to show that the existence of Jesus as a historical figure is likely no more than a myth. Critics questioned the timing of the tweet as a slap in the face to Christians preparing to celebrate one of their holiest days.

Possibly more importantly, many seized on the reaction to the 2014 publication. Historians, including a professor who had taught Lataster in a class about the historical Jesus, demolished the claims. Its ideas were described as “the fringe of the fringe,” and compared to anti-vaccine scientists’ efforts to prove their dubious assertions.

Given that the article has been widely debunked, what would lead the Washington Post to tweet it out, essentially rerunning it? If there is some news value in questioning the existence of Jesus in the Christmas season, why not at least run a new article that addresses the harsh criticisms of the original? Perhaps the Post has its reasons for ignoring those criticisms, but even so, why put this out during the Christmas season at all?

The Real and Pretend Wars on Christmas

As with so much news coverage these days, the answer to why this essay ran may well boil down to two words: Donald Trump. A reported story in the Post on December 24 might offer a clue. It was titled, “In a Pro Trump Town, They Never Stopped Saying Merry Christmas.” It’s a strange article, which acknowledges that most people never stopped saying “Merry Christmas,” yet goes on to paint Trump supporters from Linden, Tennessee, as paranoid, Bible-clutching rubes convinced by Trump that there is a war on Christmas.

In the Post’s defense, Trump himself has made the war on Christmas a centerpiece of his social conservatism. In a series of videos and tweets, the president has essentially claimed that we can finally say “Merry Christmas” again. This seems odd to the millions of Americans who never stopped saying it. But is Trump tapping into a real anti-Christian strain in the media and popular culture, and might the “Jesus is the Harry Potter of the First Century CE” Washington Post article be a part of that strain?

One reasonable question many have asked is whether the Post would have run an article questioning the facts about Mohammad on Ramadan, or of Moses on Passover. To the extent that such articles seem less likely, it’s because Christianity is viewed as the dominant religion in the United States, and therefore a more legitimate target for criticism.

It was Finley Peter Dunne who first said it is the job of journalists to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. But the phrase is best known from the play “Inherit The Wind,” where it is uttered by fictional journalist E.K. Hornbeck (based on H.L. Mencken) while covering the Scopes monkey trial. The notion was, and apparently still is, that Christianity exists in a comfortable place in our society.

The Bible’s Cultural Dominance Has Flipped

But we do not live in the 1920s of Mencken, where it was illegal to teach evolution in schools and perfectly normal to teach the Bible. For most of American history, religious freedom battles focused on protecting non-Christians (including atheists) from government sanctioning of Christianity. This took the form of bans on the Ten Commandments in courthouses, prayer in school, and preaching politics from the pulpit.

In recent years however, this basic framework of religious liberty questions has been turned on its head. Now it is the Christian baker who seeks protection from a government forcing him to violate his faith. It is the pro-life campus group that is demanding recognition from colleges unwilling to give it. Many Christians feel besieged by efforts that are no longer meant to deprive Christianity of dominance, but to drive it entirely into the shadows of public life.

In this context, the Post’s decision to again publicize an academically challenged refutation of the most basic premise of Christianity starts to look an awful lot like punching down. This brings us back to Trump. Many have asked why evangelicals would support a man whose life is far from an example of Christian ideals. The answer lies in the fact that they do not look at him as the embodiment of Christianity, but rather as its protector.

Does Christianity really need a protector? Is it actually being threatened with becoming a marginal force in American society? Here the answer is certainly yes. According to recent polls, only 53 percent of Americans believe in an anthropomorphic God. As this is a core doctrine of Christianity, lack of a prevailing belief in it challenges the notion that Christianity remains the dominant moral cultural force. Yet it is still treated as such, and therefore subject to attacks like the one leveled against it in the Post.

Christianity Deserves Equal Protection

Meanwhile, atheism, a belief system or lack thereof growing in U.S. adherents, is still treated as an underdog, marginalized perspective that requires protection from media and other cultural powers. This is an outdated and dangerous perspective. Today, atheism often has just as much, if not more, power in public matters, especially in education. Where are the articles in our top outlets focused on atheism’s inability to point to an absolute moral framework? Where are the attacks on the relativism it is indoctrinating many of our children with?

It is easy to roll one’s eyes at President Trump’s proclamation that he has made it okay to say “Merry Christmas” again. But that particular holiday greeting has always been a stand-in for a much deeper phenomenon in American culture. The presence and influence of Christianity is diminishing. So it is simply irresponsible for the Washington Post to push an article they know is flawed that so directly targets Christianity.

It is perfectly acceptable to explore the historic nature of Jesus. It happens in colleges across the world every day. But it should be done in a way that is respectful and balanced. The Washington Post article is neither.

News outlets need to adjust to the new country and culture in which they now exist. The protection of minority religious views that media has extended to Islam and Judaism must now be offered to Christianity, as well. Attacks on Christian belief are no longer a redress of historical inequality, they are now simply bigoted. And they need to stop.

David Marcus is a senior contributor to the Federalist and the Artistic Director of Blue Box World, a Brooklyn based theater project. Follow him on Twitter, @BlueBoxDave.
Photo Myriams-Fotos / Pixabay.com


TOPICS: Current Events; History; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics
KEYWORDS: christianity; districtofcolumbia; doctorevil; historicaljesus; jeffbezos; jesus; jesuschrist; jesusmyth; linden; mediawingofthednc; merrychristmas; partisanmediashills; raphaellataster; tennessee; wapofakenews; waronjesus; washingtoncompost; washingtonpost
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1 posted on 01/03/2018 9:11:02 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

This person who didn’t exist... somehow divided history. We call this year 2018 A.D. for what reason? As were the last 2017 years prior.

Quite the accomplishment for a non-person.


2 posted on 01/03/2018 9:16:48 AM PST by FiddlePig (Who needs Truth & facts when you have narrative?)
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To: FiddlePig

RE: We call this year 2018 A.D. for what reason?

Many are calling this year 2018 C.E. for another reason.


3 posted on 01/03/2018 9:20:11 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: FiddlePig

Oh...He exists.


4 posted on 01/03/2018 9:20:57 AM PST by freepertoo
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To: All

To paraphrase Klaus Meine, “Scorpions gotta sting”.....Well, Satanists gotta Satan, don’t they?


5 posted on 01/03/2018 9:22:20 AM PST by Maverick68
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To: SeekAndFind

Where is the proof of the existence of Plato, Aristotle, Alexander the Great, etc.?


6 posted on 01/03/2018 9:23:11 AM PST by jeffc (The U.S. media are our enemy)
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To: SeekAndFind

He was born in humble surroundings, never owned property, carried few possessions and left an empty tomb. But His lessons have survived for two thousand years and His perfect life has rarely been questioned. Critics attack only the believers because they can’t argue with His words. Must drive them nuts.


7 posted on 01/03/2018 9:26:53 AM PST by Huskrrrr
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To: SeekAndFind
"Many have asked why evangelicals would support a man whose life is far from an example of Christian ideals."

The same reason that 4th century Christians supported Roman emperor Constantine despite the fact his life was "far from an example Christian ideals."

8 posted on 01/03/2018 9:31:06 AM PST by circlecity
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To: SeekAndFind
Why did they tweet the debunked hit piece on Christ?

Easy.

They don't believe in God and ridicule anyone who does.

9 posted on 01/03/2018 9:31:38 AM PST by rlmorel (Leftists: American Liberty is the egg that requires breaking to make their Utopian omelette.)
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To: SeekAndFind

I’ve long thought that Jesus’ recorded interactions with women would have been antithetical to a society rooted in patriarchy. That, and that a woman was the first witness to the resurrection and, naturally not at first believed even by the apostles.

Then there are other features within the Gospels, which, when taken together form a reasonably consistent picture of the life of a real individual.

And I’m a Torah believer, so I don’t have an axe to grind in this respect.


10 posted on 01/03/2018 9:38:30 AM PST by onedoug
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To: SeekAndFind
Try Bud Dry

Godless communist is as godless communist does.

11 posted on 01/03/2018 9:41:35 AM PST by rawcatslyentist ("All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing")
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To: SeekAndFind
It’s a strange article... [it] goes on to paint Trump supporters from Linden, Tennessee, as paranoid, Bible-clutching rubes...

But they never quite get to painting mooselimbs as paranoid and bitterly clinging to their koran...

12 posted on 01/03/2018 9:41:38 AM PST by jeffc (The U.S. media are our enemy)
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To: rlmorel
They don't believe in God and ridicule anyone who does.

They believe in God. They just play for the other team. Their fall is coming and it will be epic.

13 posted on 01/03/2018 9:47:50 AM PST by pgkdan (The Silent Majority STILL Stands With TRUMP!)
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To: SeekAndFind

Oh, I can’t say for sure, but it probably has something to do with the left’s hatred of practicing Christians. Particularly white, Christian males. We’re all so inherently evil, don’t you know. Meanwhile, male Muzzies are so cute and cuddly.


14 posted on 01/03/2018 9:48:19 AM PST by Liberal Anti Venom
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To: onedoug
Then there are other features within the Gospels, which, when taken together form a reasonably consistent picture of the life of a real individual.

Yes ... and the fact that the gospels have discrepancies indicate that they are likely real accounts as observed by different individuals.

15 posted on 01/03/2018 9:58:11 AM PST by plain talk
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To: SeekAndFind

Did this article run before or after WaPooP editor John Podesta went on vacation?


16 posted on 01/03/2018 9:59:18 AM PST by Slyfox (Not my circus, not my monkeys)
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To: SeekAndFind

“the fringe of the fringe,”

There are many of these “fringe of the fringe,” on Facebook. Every time there is a mention of a 10 commandments stone or even anything about Jesus they always show up like a bad penny yelling this same drivel.
Most are just teen trolls hiding in their mom’s basement.


17 posted on 01/03/2018 10:02:46 AM PST by Ruy Dias de Bivar
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To: pgkdan

Good point! (I just read today where Chelsea Clinton sent New Year greetings to the Church of Satan...wouldn’t surprise me if it wasn’t satire)


18 posted on 01/03/2018 10:05:09 AM PST by rlmorel (Leftists: American Liberty is the egg that requires breaking to make their Utopian omelette.)
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To: Liberal Anti Venom

Meanwhile, male Muzzies are so cute and cuddly.

Yeah, like a porcupine is cuddly. They are cool looking though.


19 posted on 01/03/2018 10:17:24 AM PST by coincheck (Time is Short, Salvation is for Today)
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To: coincheck

bookmark


20 posted on 01/03/2018 10:24:12 AM PST by StarFan
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