Like Rich, we're excited to see the “new” Orange Coast, and wish it the best even though it's now technically a competitor. I've yet to see the issue that Rich dissected but did catch the one before, one that already had hints of the literary journalism and well-written analysis readers can expect under newish editor Marty Smith.
One article stuck out in particular: Matthew Heller's contention that Orange County Christian pastors try not to mix politics with their faith. “If the GOP has realized that politics and an undiluted faith-based agenda don’t mix, it has finally arrived at a conclusion reached by some of Orange County’s most prominent evangelical leaders, who for the most part have steered clear of strident political activism,” Heller asserts. It's a rather crazy argument (just check out the posts in our “Gimme that OC Religion” archives) with little proof other than Heller corralling three pastors to say so: Rick Warren of Saddleback Church (who's gone on the record to oppose gay marriage–gee, wonder how his Purpose-Driven flock will vote on the proposed ban-gay-marriage amendment this coming November), Dale Burke of Fullerton's First Evangelical Free Church (who tells Heller he's against gay marriage and states, “When people hold to a core set of values … it’s natural that that they would align themselves with a party that holds similar values”–yep, no politics there!) and the Crystal Cathedral's Robert Schuller the Elder.
Schuller has made it a career of telling people he used to be political but hasn't been for years and does the same with Heller. “Every time you have an issue that’s controversial, there are smart people on both sides,” Schuller says, “I don’t like to take positions when there are intelligent people on both sides”–a funny statement considering he let Mike Carona slime his way across the Cathedral's stage.
Then comes the matter of Schuller's McCarthyite past.
Either Heller didn't do enough research or Schuller spun the reporter like the California Lotto's Big Wheel, but some facts are out of whack. Heller writes that Bob “supported the Francis Amendment, a 1962 ballot initiative that would have required teachers and employees of public institutions to answer congressional and legislative committee inquiries concerning communist affiliation and subversion,'” but Schuller did more than support: he joined a committee to actively campaign for the initiative. Heller also writes that Schuller left political activism shortly after California voters rejected the Francis Amendment because God (in one of his less-eloquent moments) told the pastor, “Watch out for communism, and watch out for anti-communism, and watch out for anti-anti-communism.” In fact, according to Schuller's 1995 book Prayer: My Soul's Adventure with God, God told him that a couple of years earlier, just after he was invited to join Fred Schwartz's Christian Anti-Communist Crusade. All of these are minor mistakes, but they're crucial to understanding Schuller's curious-yet-present past.