Terry Jeffrey

When Martin Luther King Jr. Day arrives in January, I doubt you will hear commentators at MSNBC denigrating that heroic leader of the Civil Rights movement by claiming he improperly crossed the boundary line between church and state when he demanded that the laws of this country protect the God-given rights of African Americans. They would not have the nerve.

Recent programs on MSNBC, however, have attacked America's Roman Catholic bishops for making arguments based on exactly the same principles the Baptist minister King invoked while challenging racist statutes because they were contrary to the natural law and the law of God.

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As the Media Research Center's Scott Whitlock first noted, NBC News Chief Medical Editor Nancy Snyderman accused the Catholic bishops of improperly breaching the separation of church and state when they advocated an amendment to the House health care bill that would prohibit tax dollars from paying for health insurance plans that cover abortion. Snyderman made the accusation on the Nov. 12 episode of her MSNBC program, "Dr. Nancy." Her guest that day was Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women.

"The Catholic bishops appearing and having a political voice seems to be a most fundamental violation of church and state," said Snyderman.

"You know, that's the first thing that I said," responded O'Neill. "I don't know where the Internal Revenue Service is, but I hope they're paying attention."

"Me, too," said Snyderman.

On MSBNC's "Morning Joe" on Nov. 23, MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell attacked Catholic Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence, R.I. Tobin's perceived offense was having sent a private letter to Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., almost three years ago advising Kennedy that in light of his persistent support for the legalized killing of unborn babies Kennedy should refrain from receiving Holy Communion. The bishop's discreet instruction to Kennedy became public last weekend only after Kennedy himself revealed it to the Providence Journal.

"This is a political act by a political bishop," said O'Donnell. "Political bishops do the church absolutely no good. This guy's -- this bishop is a political hack."

That evening, Chris Matthews invited Tobin onto MSNBC's "Hardball." While appearing to turn the other cheek to Matthews' lecture-like don't-let-your-guest-get-a-word-in "interviewing" style, the mild-mannered bishop made some quietly powerful statements.

Terry Jeffrey

Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSNews

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