During the "Clear the Air" segment of his nightly MSNBC program, journalist Martin Bashir turned his attention to the 2012 campaign, questioning the faith of the Republican candidates and their obedience to the Bible's teaching on truth telling, looking after the "least of these," and turning the other cheek.
Apparently tired of the political mudslinging and candidates' fast and loose presentation of the facts, Bashir, a Christian, ripped into Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Ron Paul for statements they have made in recent days.
In the three-minute segment that aired Wednesday night, Bashir paralleled GOP candidates' comments with the teachings of Scripture.
He said, "It's time to clear the air, and we're now mid-season in what's becoming a multi-channel miniseries of Republican presidential debates. Although the candidates differ on some aspects of policy, most of them, aside from Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, who are Mormons, claim to be Christians with a strong commitment to the central tenets of Christianity."
Without noting his perceived distinctions between Mormonism and Christianity, Bashir went on to reveal his "trouble trying to understand the kind of Christianity these candidates represent."
After noting that "biblical Christianity is committed to truth-telling," the MSNBC host went on to recount Jesus Christ's declaration in Scripture to be "the way, the truth and the life" while noting that Michele Bachmann failed to "fact check" her claim about a woman whose daughter purportedly developed mental retardation after receiving the HPV vaccine.
"Every medical institution... has dismissed her story as entirely inaccurate and untrue, so where was her commitment to truth-telling?" Bashir asked of the Minnesota Congresswoman.
Turning his attention to Rick Perry, Bashir wondered at the Texas governor's insisting that he couldn't be bought for $5,000 by a pharmaceutical company.
Bashir countered, saying, "[He] actually received six times that amount, and his chief of staff had not only joined the drug company [Merck] but was now running a political action committee on his behalf."
Merck PAC – the DRUG company’s Washington, D.C.-based political action committee – has given Perry $28,500 since 2001, according to Texas Ethics Commission filings, reports The Los Angeles Times.
Bashir asked of Perry's claim, "Again, where's the transparency? Where's the commitment to truth-telling? Where's the Christian walk to go with all the Christian talk?"
The MSNBC host took Congressman Ron Paul to task, wondering about the Texas politician's Christian compassion.
"During the debate this week there was a disturbing exchange between the moderator and Dr. Ron Paul, in which he was set a hypothetical test where a young man becomes seriously ill but he doesn't have any health insurance."
The moderator of that debate, CNN's Wolf Blitzer, asked Paul who would pay for the young man's medical expenses if he went into a coma.
The Texas congressman responded, "In a society that you accept welfarism and socialism, he expects the government to take care of it."
Prodded, Paul added, "What he should do is whatever he wants to do and assume responsibility for himself. My advice to him would be to have a major medical policy."
When reminded that the young man in the hypothetical situation has no medical insurance, Paul shrugged, saying, "That's what freedom is all about, taking your own risk."
Pointing his pen at the camera, Bashir called for viewers to compare Paul's response to Jesus' teachings in Matthew 5:38-42 as well as his teaching on the good Samaritan.
Bashir concluded, "As these candidates come under scrutiny for their fiscal and foreign policies, let's also make sure that they don't get away with talking up a cheap form of Christianity that they think will play with voters, because some of the things that these candidates are recommending seem a million miles from the compassion and kindness that has long been associated with true Christianity."
Bachmann and Perry have been especially vocal about their Christian faith during the campaign, while Paul has not been quite as vocal about his religious beliefs.
The Texas politician, an avid supporter of limited government, offers a statement of faith on his campaign website in which he states, "I have accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior, and I endeavor every day to follow Him in all I do and in every position I advocate."
In the statement Paul explains, "My faith is a deeply private issue to me, and I don’t speak on it in great detail during my speeches because I want to avoid any appearance of exploiting it for political gain."
Bashir, who interviewed Rob Bell for his book Love Wins in March, revealed on a Christian radio program afterward that he is a "committed Christian" who attends Tim Keller's Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.