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This article originally was posted at Talk to Action.

I'm usually left unsatisfied whenever public figures are interviewed in the media on matter of religion and politics.  The obvious follow-up questions are rarely, if ever asked.  It is as if the pundit class has an unwritten rule of not asking the tough question. Has access trumped required knowledge?

It sure seems that way.

I'm certainly not the only one who notices.  Bob Somerby's Daily Howler.  always hones in on the mainstream media's sophistry. During the week of January 24, 2007 he perfectly illustrated for us: how supposedly "liberal" writers fall for scripted spin; the press corps' standardized demonizing of Democrats; the bizarre press coverage of Campaign 2000; dim-witted Democrats who fail to defend their own party; and an elite pundit class that is economically disconnected from much of their readership.

In that spirit, I have some questions to assist the underachieving press should certain people appear in front of them. I hope these help:

"For Culture Warrior" Bill O'Reilly and Rev. Don Wildmon:
Can you identify these evil "secular progressives" by name that you allege are working night and day to take religion out of America? Can you also provide published statements, policy positions and an organizational chart for this supposed "liberal conspiracy?"

For Our Friends Rabbi Michael Lerner, Rev. Jim Wallis and US Senator Barack Obama
Well...same question.

For Institute on Religion and Democracy Catholics Robert P. George, George Weigel, Michael Novak and Mary Ann Glendon:
You folks also serve on the Catholic League's Board of Advisors. With that in mind, a League press release issued on April 22, 2005 entitled "Time For Non-Catholics To Butt Out," complained of non-Catholics interfering in internal Catholic Church Affairs. How do square that complaint with your own IRD activities that clearly interfere with the internal affairs of several mainstream Protestant denominations?

Follow-up question:
How do square that with the Golden Rule, you know-Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you?

For IRD board of advisor members Hadley Arkes, Hillel G. Fradkin  and Michael Medved:
I believe that you are all Jewish. As I asked of my fellow Catholics, Weigel, McCloskey and Glendon, why as a non-Christians are you so concerned with the internal doings of religious institutions you aren't affiliated with?  This is really about politics, isn't it?

While on the subject of Judaism, democracy and religious  freedom, this question is for you neocon godfather Irving Kristol!
In your book, Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea you gush about the joys of religious orthodoxy-all while you acknowledge being an atheist. While attacking modernity at page 434, you cite a very odd choice as a model of moral authority: Pope Pius IX. To that end, you cite the Pontiff's Syllabus of Errors, a tract that included attacks on reason, Protestantism and the separation of church and state.

Would your ideal neoconservative society tolerate the equal rights of everyone to worship as they or you neoconservatives see fit?

Two follow-up questions, Irving Kristol:
Speaking of your hero Pope Pius IX, in 1858 he ordered Vatican police to kidnap a young child-- Edgardo Mortara--from his Jewish family living in Bologna. Pius ignored his parents' plea for his return, raised him in the Vatican to become a priest--also against his family's wishes. Here are the two questions:

   A) Would you want to really live in a society where the children of your fellow Jewish-Americans can be taken away on the word of a religious leader and then raised in a different faith?

   B) How does your son Bill feel about that?

Hey, I didn't forget the Ethics and Public Policy Center's Straussian, Yuval Levin!
In a recent New York Times guest op-ed you stated as accepted scientific fact:

"It is a simple and uncontroversial biological fact that a human life begins when an embryo is created. That embryo is human, and it is alive; its human life will last until its death, whether that comes days after conception or many decades later surrounded by children and grandchildren."

Hmmm. I've got to ask you the following four questions (Remember: no noble lies allowed!):

   A) The question of "when life begins" is actually a philosophical question and not a scientific one. By making this philosophical assumption for all, aren't you actually masquerading Catholic and Evangelical orthodoxies as a widely agreed upon scientific conclusion?
   B) How do you square your statement with the different teachings of other Abrahamic faiths such as your own Judaism which holds that for the first forty days, the embryo has only the status of water?<<br>   C) How can you describe an embryo as an individual with such certitude when it is accepted scientific fact that an embryo not yet aligned to the uterine wall can separate into multiple embryos or combine with another to form a single embryo?

   D) Your background is in political science, but not theology or medicine. Would it be fair to say your view is primarily political?

I know earning millions of dollars can make it hard to ask tough questions of fellow millionaires.  So, I hope these questions will help you do your job, because frankly, a lot of you media folks are looking shallow and people are noticing.

When you get these questions asked, let me know. I've got lots more.

Originally posted to Frank Cocozzelli on Wed Jan 31, 2007 at 12:00 PM PST.

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