“A lie told often enough becomes truth" -- Vladimir Lenin
"There's nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will believe it." -- Psychologist William James
by Andrew Walden
Neil Abercrombie has for years, maybe decades, been included among a small group of Congressmen who describe their religion as “unaffiliated” or “unspecified.” But within the last seven days, Hawaii media outlets have suddenly begun describing Abercrombie as “Episcopalian.” Perhaps they are testing to see if readers will notice the shift. Here are the facts:
Pew Forum on Religion in Public Life 2010:
“Neil Abercrombie (D) (Religious affiliation) Unspecified”
Washington Post 01/05/2007:
But perhaps the most underrepresented group in Congress is the 14 percent of all American adults who, according to the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey, conducted by scholars at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, claim no religion at all. Only six members of Congress, all Democrats, identify themselves as religiously unaffiliated: Reps. John F. Tierney and John W. Olver of Massachusetts, Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Mark Udall of Colorado.
Unlike most other congressmen, Neil Abercrombie's religious affiliation is left unspecified in his official congressional bio.
The closest this writer could come to Neil Abercrombie claiming any kind of religion comes from Adherents.com citing a Star-Bulletin article dated 10-24-04 in which Abercrombie claims to have been discriminated against by Catholics in 1950s Buffalo, NY. Abercrombie in one short sentence then generalizes both his own superiority and an anti-religion attitude:
“I first learned about prejudice through religion, something that not everybody necessarily understands.”
Also notice the use of past tense and the use of “Protestant” not “Episcopal”:
Abercrombie... says the prejudice he experienced and witnessed growing up steered him toward a career in public service and continues to drive him. "I was a haole [white] kid on the mainland. But I was a Protestant in a Catholic city. I first learned about prejudice through religion, something that not everybody necessarily understands," said Abercrombie, who was born in Buffalo, New York.
This reporter is unable to find any description of Neil Abercrombie as Episcopal prior to an anonymous comment by “Nikki Heat” on David Shapiro’s Volcanic Ash column August 29, 2010:
“(the lapsed cradle Episcopalian from northern New York, of course, even if still partaking of the Eucharist, would be no better than a Catholic who attends services in a building where priests can marry….)
“Nikki Heat” posted an identical comment about the same time on ILind.
August 31, just two days later, KHON reported a straight assertion without a source:
“Democrat Neil Abercrombie is a confirmed Episcopalian….”
September 1, KITV included this line in an article about Christians debating who to support for Governor:
“…Democratic candidate Neil Abercrombie, a confirmed Episcopalian….”
September 1, using a slightly different version of the KITV article, MSNBC reported the assertion claiming it came from Abercrombie himself:
“…Abercrombie said he was confirmed as an Episcopalian….”
September 3, Derrick Depledge writing on the Star-Advertiser’s Political Radar blog, echoed the KITV/MSNBC claim of Abercrombie as the source:
“Abercrombie has said he is Episcopalian.”
DePledge repeated the exact same wording in a Star-Advertiser print edition article September 4 in response to this:
"Neil Abercrombie is unacceptable," Arakaki states in the ad. "He declares no religious affiliation. In Congress, he voted for partial birth abortion and human cloning. And it's no secret that he will enact same-sex marriage."
The result of the manipulation produced this bonus line where a Christian leader is made to pre-announce a possible bow:
“Told that Abercrombie has said he is an Episcopalian, Arakaki said he would apologize if the ad is wrong”.
Even the Abercrombie Campaign is not backing up DePledge’s peddling of the “Abercrombie is an Episcopalian” line. In Abercrombie’s “Fact Check” response to the challenge from Arakaki, Abercrombie’s campaign says absolutely noting about Abercrombie being Episcopalian or any other religion. Instead the response focuses on the ties between the Hannemann Campaign and the group paying for Arakaki’s radio ads.
Arakaki was ambushed, but many others are not fooled. The Political Radar posting drew hoots of derisive laughter and ridicule from commenters. For instance “Jordan” wrote:
It’s funny that Neil says he’s Episcopalian now when he listed himself as “unspecified” to the The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. If he were Episcopalian then, wouldn’t you think that he would have said “Christian” or “Protestant”? Seems fishy to me.
In their midst, “Nikki Heat” wrote:
“Neil has said he’s a confirmed Episcopalian. I believe that means he was baptized as a baby and then confirmed as a child in that church.”
There simply is no record of Neil Abercrombie ever claiming to be Episcopal. There are substantial well-documented records of Abercrombie claiming “unspecified” or no religious affiliation for years in Congress.
Since DePledge claims that “Abercrombie has said…” then of course he should be able to provide a reference which quotes Neil Abercrombie saying something like “I am an Episcopalian” or perhaps a photo of Abercrombie attending an Episcopal church service.
But when Hawai’i Free Press mocked DePledge as “Democrat DePledge” for his willingness to spread this ridiculous “Episcopal Abercrombie” story, he responded with an email threatening to sue us for libel. A legal scholar, this one is not.
Betting has it that readers won't be seeing any source material from DePledge anytime soon.
UPDATE: In an unsigned September 8 editorial, the editors of the Star-Advertiser wrote:
“The former congressman has said he was confirmed as an Episcopalian, but that's beside the point.”
Thus, in eleven days, an anonymous unsourced comment on ILind and Volcanic Ash has been carried all the way through Hawaii's journalistic digestive tract to emerge from the SA Editorial Board.
UPDATE: In a September 9 profile of Lt Gov Duke Aiona, DePledge writes:
"(Aiona) questions why the media, for example, has only recently asked Neil Abercrombie about his faith. Abercrombie, who has not listed a religion on many congressional biographies, has said he is a confirmed Episcopalian."
UPDATE: Associated Press September 6 reported:
Abercrombie spokesman Jim McCoy on Sunday sought to clarify Abercrombie's religious affiliation, saying only that the candidate was ''confirmed as an Episcopalian.''
UPDATE: In a September 6 article, KITV claims:
"Abercrombie told KITV he was confirmed as an Episcopalian."
But then KITV imediately contradicts itself with this:
Abercrombie refused to talk to KITV in person but e-mailed a videotaped criticism of the Island Values flier and ad.
If Abercrombie didn't talk to KITV, then obviously he didn't "tell" them anything. But did Abercrombie mention being "confirmed as an Episcopalian" in the video? No.
But Abercrombie does repeat his dig at religion and makes an implied threat against religious freedom:
"When I was growing up in Buffalo, New York, my family experienced religious and ethnic prejudice. I had heard that Hawaii was a place that embraced differences and respected all people so I came here 51 years ago and it was true. Hawaii was and is a place defined by its diversity. Today the forces of intolerance are organizing in Hawaii and politicians are all to willing to exploit feelings of fear and mistrust to gain votes. As governor, I will not let this continue. I will not let people draw battle lines between us based on beliefs or backgrounds.”
SEE VIDEO >>> HERE (scroll down to bottom of page)
Of course the akamai reader can see that Abercrombie is "drawing battle lines" between his gay-athiest eco-religion backers and Christians. Does this mean he will now disallow himself? No. But he says he will disallow the Christians he tags as "exploiting feelings of fear" whatever that means. Maybe he needs a refresher course on the First Amendment.
Here is a video cited by Hannemann’s people as exemplifying Abercrombie’s attitude towards Christians. Judge for yourself: