NYT Accused of Double Standard on Religion; Claims to Be Protecting Troops

The New York Times recently published an advertisement purchased by an atheist organization called "It's Time to Consider Quitting The Catholic Church." But when another organization tried to buy a similar advertisement against Islam, the newspaper decided not to immediately publish the ad, causing some to question whether or not the newspaper has a double standard on religion.

On Mar. 9 the Times published an anti-Catholic ad purchased by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) which challenged Roman Catholic beliefs and pointed to the church's past sex scandals, among other things, as reasons for Catholics to leave their faith behind.

The FFRF's ad challenges the "pernicious doctrine that birth control is a sin," and says, "It's a disgrace that U.S. health care reform is being held hostage to your church's irrational opposition to medically prescribed contraception. No political candidate should have to genuflect before the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops."

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"As a member of the 'flock' of an avowedly antidemocratic Old Boys Club, isn't it time you vote with your feet? Please, exit en Mass," the ad, which is signed by FFRF Co-Presidents Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker, says.

Taking a cue from the FFRF, Pamela Geller, president of Stop Islamization of Nations, decided to have a similar ad published in the Times titled, "It's Time To Quit Islam." She told The Christian Post via email on Friday that her ad was created in response to the "anti-Catholic smear ad" of the FFRF, and she "wanted to see if the New York Times would run a mirror ad that told the truth about Islam and jihad."

Geller's ad, which was published in its entirety on The Daily Caller's website, is addressed to "moderate Muslims" who she says should leave their mosques.

"If you imagine you can change the mosque from within it – to lighten up on Jew-hatred, hatred of women, hatred of non-Muslims, hatred of gays – you are deluding yourself...You're kidding yourself if you think the mosque is ever going to expunge the Qur'an of its violent texts that inspire jihad, or interpret them out of existence," the ad says.

But The New York Times hasn't run Geller's ad as of yet, leading some to wonder if the newspaper is showing itself to be biased against some religious groups.

Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League, told he believes the actions of the Times reveal the newspaper's agenda.

"It shows the disparate treatment and the duplicity of The New York Times," said Donohue. "You can trash some religions, like Roman Catholicism, with impunity, but you cannot trash Islam?"

Eileen Murphy, vice president of corporate communications for the Times, said the decision not to run the ad immediately has nothing to do with fairness, but safety. She told CP via email that the newspaper has decided to delay publishing the ad temporarily to protect U.S. citizens who are currently in the Middle East.

"We made a decision to postpone publishing it in light of recent events in Afghanistan, including the Koran burning and the alleged killings of Afghani civilians by a member of the U.S. military," Murphy said. "It is our belief that fallout from running this ad now could put U.S. troops and civilians in the region in danger and we would like to avoid that."

But Geller still believes the Times has been unfair, and doesn't think her ad will ever be published.

"In the first place, Afghan jihadis want to kill Americans regardless. It isn't as if there would be peace if not for this ad," she said.

"And the Times' position is inconsistent. They have done more to jeopardize the safety of our troops than any mainstream media outlet, with the possible exception of Newsweek," Geller added. "How many front page stories ran on Abu Ghraib? Who leaked the NSA wiretaps under FISA, jeopardizing not just troops but American citizens, or the highly classified Pentagon order authorizing special ops to hunt for al-Qaeda in the mountains of Pakistan?"

Murphy says The New York Times accepts religious advertisements, which can be either for or against certain religions, because of a belief in First Amendment rights and, more specifically, "the public's right to be heard." She noted that the newspaper has also given pro-Catholic organizations the chance to advertise with them, and gave the example of an ad from the Catholic League of New York, which she says ran in April of 2011.

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