Mixed messages galore follow in the wake of Tucker Carlson’s abrupt firing by Fox News. The latest theory is that Carlson was fired for giving a speech to the Heritage Foundation filled with religious overtones and a recommendation for people to pray for 10 minutes a day to solve our nation’s problems.
This confuses me to no end.
On the one hand, I am glad Carlson recommends prayer. That’s a refreshing break from the preachers who recommend war on liberals. But then, Carlson normally uses religious claims that are so far back in the woods of right-wing conspiracy, you couldn’t get there from here.
He did what his bosses asked him to do. He did it effectively and profitably. They asked him to take the truth, any truth, and make it look like a lie. They asked him to take a Democratic policy that would be good for the American people and insist it was a pack of lies and would cost too much. He was charged with defending all Donald Trump’s lies — a full-time job for our serial liar of an ex-president.
Carlson has defended his overdetermined efforts to destroy truth by claiming he is not a journalist and should not be held to the ethical standards of a journalist. He doesn’t have time to be bothered with facts, honesty, truth, reliability, research and the entire ethical system of those charged with speaking truth to the American people. Yet he is the most popular of all the Fox opinion propagandists.
His now-released emails show he didn’t believe what he was saying on his own show. Would the real Tucker Carlson please stand? Was he really the person who hated Trump and knew Trump was a liar?
Firing someone for advocating prayer goes against our most sacred commitment to the separation of church and state. As a people once persecuted for our religious beliefs, Baptists, of all denominations, should be outraged at any attack on a person’s right to advocate prayer in a speech. And it was only a recommendation for 10 minutes of prayer per day. That’s not much praying in light of the faithful Muslims who pray fives time daily with each prayer lasting five to 10 minutes.
“Firing someone for advocating prayer goes against our most sacred commitment to the separation of church and state.”
Here’s what Carlson said, “I have concluded it might be worth taking just 10 minutes out of your busy schedule to say a prayer for the future, and I hope you will.”
That’s a mild yet refreshing remark about prayer considering what Rep. Lauren Boebert has said in relation to prayer: “Joe Biden’s president. We don’t know what to do, Lord! … It’s all right, we pray for our presidents. You know, it says, ‘Let his days be few and another take his office.’”
She is, of course, referring to one of the imprecatory prayers in Psalm 109:8.
Carlson’s remarks are plain vanilla compared to Texas pastor Robert Henderson of Waco’s Radiant Church claiming Ruth Bader Ginsburg died because he prayed for it to happen. David Perdue previously joined the parade of those praying for a president to die: “I think we’re called to pray for our country, for our leaders and yes, even our president. In his role as president, I think we should pray for Barack Obama. But I think we need to be very specific about how we pray. We should pray like Psalms 109:8 says. It says, ‘Let his days be few, and let another have his office.’”
The latest report about Fox and Carlson, from Vanity Fair, suggests Carlson’s firing came down to basic human mistrust, getting even and a way of getting back at Murdoch’s ex-fiancée. According to this view, Murdoch was unnerved by Carlson’s end-time talk because his former fiancée also is an end-times believer.
“This is a confusing bit of gossip because Exodus is not usually a go-to book for people holding end-times beliefs.”
Ann Lesly Smith, the ex-fiancée, told friends Carlson was “a messenger for God.” That is really bad news — for God. According to sources quoted by the magazine, at a dinner at Murdoch’s Bel Air vineyard, Smith pulled out a Bible and started reading passages from the Book of Exodus. This is a confusing bit of gossip because Exodus is not usually a go-to book for people holding end-times beliefs. In any event, Murdoch called off the engagement two weeks later.
No doubt Tucker Carlson made multiple false, awful, horrifying claims on his show, but it is hard to believe he would be fired for recommending prayer.
I am not saddened by Carlson’s firing; he’s an arsonist. He has been setting fires in the Truth Building from the beginning of his career. We will not miss an on-air personality spouting ideas like immigrants will make the country poorer and dirtier and who makes January 6 sound like a normal tour of a government building. We will not miss his racist, white supremacist rants or his attacks on “wokeness” and Critical Race Theory.
The air will be cleaner with Tucker Carlson gone. The crazies will have to find a new hero. Maybe there’s a trend even at Fox News. Glen Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Tucker Carlson. Maybe the truth finally emerges even from the dark murky hole. Perhaps there’s a limit to how much lying Americans can digest before rebelling. That would be a good thing.
If evangelicals use Carlson’s firing as fuel for their own fires of discontent and malcontent, if they support him still, then we have one more log to throw on the fire that may be burning down the house of evangelicalism.
I will not miss Tucker Carlson. On the other hand, I find the idea that he could be fired for offering religious convictions to be dangerous. There’s nothing Christian or American about such a move.
If Rupert Murdoch doesn’t like all that “spiritual stuff,” why is he in cahoots with the religious and spiritual crowd known loosely as evangelicals?
Rodney W. Kennedy is a pastor in New York state and serves as a preaching instructor at Palmer Theological Seminary. He is the author of nine books, including The Immaculate Mistake, about how evangelical Christians gave birth to Donald Trump.
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