NBC's Chuck Todd and his Good Friday tweet showed disrespect for Christians, and for America itself

Last Friday, Good Friday in the Western Christian Church, the archetypical broadcast journalist, NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd, used his media bullhorn to mock and further divide America over religion.

Todd tweeted:  “I’m a bit hokey when it comes to ‘Good Friday.’  I don’t mean disrespect to the religious aspect of the day, but I love the idea of reminding folks that any day can become ‘good,’ all it takes is a little selflessness on our own part. Works EVERY time.”

Talk about tone deaf.

Thomas Jefferson, author of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, must be shaking his head.  We lose our appreciation for history – and in the process, for each other – by inches.  And we lost something important this past week, when a major media outlet attacked Christians preparing for Easter.

Evidence of accidental or intentional disinterest in America’s Christian heritage, the long beam undergirding American history, continues to pile up.  The modern media promotes our forgetting, and seems increasingly comfortable deriding the Christian faith.

This past weekend, however, represents an acute example of what ails the nation: an absence of respect for what many Americans consider the compass of their lives – their faith, in this case Christian faith.  This was also the day Jewish Passover began.

What member of the Founding generation, descended from those who risked everything for freedom to worship, would counsel mocking another’s sincere faith? None. They built that respect into the Constitution.

Since before our nation’s founding, respect for another American’s faith has been a cornerstone of who we are. Yet the media tramples with increasing frequency on this fundamental American right, as if it did not exist.

On one of the holiest of Christian days, a day when billions of people around the world commemorate the wonder of extreme humility and sacrifice, and give thanks for the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was put to death that salvation might be possible, the media was tone deaf.

As if aiming to demonstrate the widening chasm between average Americans and media elites (like ABC’s Joy Behar who called Christianity a “mental illness”), Mr. Todd deployed his multimillion-dollar, FCC-sanctioned pulpit to declare Good Friday, that sober Christian day of worship, as “hokey.” He then went on to lecture some 200 million Christians in America and 2.2 billion Christians worldwide – nearly a third of the world – on how banal the day really was, in his book.

“Any day” could be good, he instructed, adding that he “loved the idea of reminding folks” (that would be us, the great unwashed) to be “good.”  He wasn’t finished. “All it takes is a little selflessness on our own part,” he continued, and the world will improve – presumably by all of us becoming more like him. Wow!

Where does one begin?  Reducing the enormous significance of Good Friday, important to all Christians as the day of crucifixion that makes possible Christ’s resurrection on Easter, to trite recommendations that we be good, and then adding a mini-lecture on how any day can be like this one, leaves one speechless.

Jefferson, himself a Unitarian, would have found this troubling.  On one hand, he advocated freedom of press, and on the other he disdained concentration of power and derogation of religious freedom.  In fact, his Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom is the origin of the First Amendment’s freedom to worship.

The Todd statement is bigger than a mere offense against Christianity, or against people of faith, supposing that he does not understand a holy day’s meaning and is comfortable contentedly taking down another American’s faith as “hokey.”

It is more than his swinging the heavy sword of media power to deride others, debasing his own role as a public intermediary.

The statement is arresting because of what is implies.  It is the soft bigotry of condescension to people of faith.  It is beyond interfaith jousting.  It is beyond a subtle plug for atheism, in a world where 24-hour media seem omniscient, to themselves and others, almost God-like.

The real offense is against America, and what we stand for – even in the media.  It is against longstanding respect for American history, premised on simple respect for matters of religious faith.

What member of the Founding generation, descended from those who risked everything for freedom to worship, would counsel mocking another’s sincere faith?  None.  They built that respect into the Constitution.

What American veteran, tasked with defending that Constitution with his or her life, would counsel mocking the faith of another American?  None.  The solemnity of prayer, dialogue with God has always been sacrosanct.

So, this is a sorry moment – one in which media elites feel empowered to line up against average Americans who are simply living out their faith.  The true goodness of America – founded on respect for history, for faith, and for each other – is that we have room for such dividers.

The eternal hope is that they, too, will see that demeaning the faith of fellow Americans is utterly out of place.  It disrespects American history, demeans them and their media colleagues, and ultimately hurts all Americans – in this case, it is a slap at about half the country. 

Jefferson himself reminds us, “The ground of liberty is to be gained by inches,” just as our liberty is lost by inches.  Respect for each other is the same.  The media elites should be silent or honor those who honor the enormity of a day like Good Friday, not deride them as part of something “hokey.”

Jefferson would be shaking his head.  Somehow, one senses he would expect more – even of our modern media. With religious liberty, particularly Christians, under fire, the burden is on us to speak.  He would.