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Knock it off, please

Wednesday, May 23, 2007 - Posted by Rich Miller

This rent-a-minister thing is getting way, way out of hand. CORE, the ComEd front group, has had ministers advocating on the utility’s behalf for months, bringing them to Springfield for marches and rallies. The governor, who knows a good game when he sees it, has attempted to rally ministers to his health care cause. [Added: As a commenter notes below, Cook County Assessor Jim Houlihan also has a bunch of ministers fronting for his 7 percent assessment cap proposal.]

And now the two sides in the ongoing dispute over how AT&T should get into the cable marketplace have trotted out their men and women of the cloth. Yesterday was just plain goofy

The Rev. James Demus, at a rally to support cable TV legislation, tried to light his cable bill on fire.

But on a windy Tuesday morning at the downtown Thompson Center, he couldn’t get it to light. Eventually he held his bill below the podium until he could get a tiny flame going, and then held it up for the cameras. The wind promptly blew it out.

But Demus, co-director of the Ministerial Alliance Against the Digital Divide, still had plenty to say as he, several other black ministers and a dozen supporters called for passage of a cable deregulation bill that would give AT&T easier entry into the cable market.

“The Lord has given hope to Illinois consumers,” Demus said. “It is House Bill 1500.” […]

A different group of black ministers, working with a group called Keep TV Local, tried to rally opposition to the bill several weeks ago, saying the new bill allows new providers such as AT&T to ignore poorer communities.

[Emphasis added.]

Unreal. I doubt this works very well with legislators and just makes the ministers look like shills.


  1. - Curt - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 9:18 am:

    Hey, it works for Meeks.

  2. - Gene Parmesan - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 9:20 am:

    Jim Houlihan did it for his 7% tax “cap” too.

  3. - Bluefish - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 9:29 am:

    Did he quote Scripture that God wants all people to have a cable choice? I’m still waiting for someone to cite the parts of the Bible where Blago find the part about God wanting everyone to have healthcare.

    Rich is right. Unreal. Wonder if there is a special circle in Hell for men of the cloth who sell their souls like this?

  4. - Pro-Gunner - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 9:43 am:

    Reverend Jesse Jackson and several other gun control activists plan to disrupt business at Chuck’s Gun Shop in Riverdale, IL on Saturday, May 26th.

  5. - Roger - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 10:03 am:

    Why are these ministers being singled out? This is how Jesse (he never went to seminary) Jackson and Al Sharpton make a living!

  6. - Skeeter - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 10:13 am:

    Bluefish wrote: “waiting for someone to cite the parts of the Bible where Blago find the part about God wanting everyone to have healthcare.”

    Are you really claiming that the Bible stands for the proposition that the poor are on their own when it comes to healthcare? That only the rich should live?

    You really don’t think a concern for the health of the poor is in there? Maybe you should do some more reading.

  7. - Skeeter - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 10:19 am:

    In response to Roger:

    Pat Robertson is not an ordained minister either. Interesting that you did not mention him in your post.

    Let’s see: How is Jesse Jackson LIKE Al Sharpton, but DIFFERENT from Pat Roberton.

    Got any thoughts on that distinction, Roger?

  8. - Larry McKeon - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 10:25 am:

    They did’nt out “Tinky Winky” and “Square Pants Bob.”

  9. - Juice - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 10:25 am:

    I found the part in the bible that talks about Cable TV competition!

    It’s in Deuteronomy, somewhere after the part that says the Israelites are allowed to own other Jews as slaves, but only for 6 years (so people don’t get too carried away I guess) but before the verse that says if you are being attacked, your wife is not allowed to kick the other guy in the groin (possible reflecting heavy resistance faced by the Lord when he turned Sodom and Gomorrah into salt.)

  10. - HoosierDaddy - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 10:46 am:

    Pat Robertson was an ordained Southern Baptist minister, but resigned his ordination in order to run for President in ‘88. He’s also a graduate of divinity school.

  11. - Team Sleep - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 10:47 am:

    I didn’t know Christ was so concerned about the medium I use to watch The Sopranos.

  12. - Bluefish - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 10:54 am:

    Skeeter - I did not claim that the Bible “stands for the proposition that the poor are on their own when it comes to healthcare”. I believe the teachings of Jesus are pretty clear as to how the poor and misfortunate should be treated. And we as a society do a very poor job of following Jesus’ teachings (especially those Jerry Falwell-types who use Scripture for their own political purposes).

    But that is not how Blago was presenting this issue. Blago’s claim was that access to modern healthcare was a direct edict from God Himself. Sounds Falwell-like to me.

  13. - Skeeter - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 10:57 am:


    A degree? Was that the issue? Now I am even more confused. You see, Rev. Jackson has a Master of Divinity degree.

    Two people who are not actually “ministers”, both claim a religious calling, but Roger singles out only one of them to pair with Rev. Sharpton.

    Now why is that is?

  14. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 10:57 am:

    “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

    Luke 16:13

  15. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 11:00 am:

    ” Blago’s claim was that access to modern healthcare was a direct edict from God Himself.”

    That’s a gross exaggeration

  16. - i d - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 11:20 am:

    If each household could select just the channels that they wanted, then there could be a fair and equitable choice for most. Where is it written that television is a necessity of life and the poor are downtrodden if they go without. I gladly support helping the poor that need food, clothes and utilities, but my tv is not the best one can buy and I don’t pay the highest cable rates available because I cannot afford them.

  17. - Wumpus - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 11:32 am:

    Many ministers of many faiths do not go to seminary. They often study under a pastor or do independent study of some sort.

    Perhaps he should have cancelled his bill via megaphone. I detest opportunist ministers who hide behind their collars all the same.

  18. - Carl Nyberg - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 11:57 am:

    Minus the Civil Rights movement, the history of the Black church is mostly a history of Black ministers shilling for the local elites, who were mostly “White”.

  19. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 11:58 am:

    I don’t agree. I think these ministers go further. They should appear on TV endorsing any corporation willing to pay them off. The more we see them pitch politics and booty, the sooner we will see the Media and others place these people into their proper context concerning real issues.

  20. - Skeeter - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 11:59 am:


    And you distinguish that from the history of the “white church” how?

  21. - cermak_rd - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 12:01 pm:

    I suppose you could stick it under the defrauding the widows and orphans rules of Leviticus but it’d be a stretch and it’s not like AT&T it going to leave leavings in its fields for the poor either.

    Healthcare for the poor probably would fit under the look after the poor sections of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Although if leprosy is the issue, the Bible mainly recommends having the chief rabbi take a look at it and being exiled if he judges it leprosy. Probably a little harsh for something treatable with antibiotics and thalidomide (yes that old horror is frequently used for leprosy treatment).

    And this concludes the unordained and uncertificated Cermak’s Thoughts on the Torah segment.

  22. - steve schnorf - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 12:37 pm:

    Larry McKeon rocks!

  23. - Underdog - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 12:39 pm:

    The interesting thing is that the politicians know what’s up with the rent-a-ministers, but the press keeps on treating them like they are something other than paid spokespeople.

    Demus fronted opposition to the big box living wage and ComEd rate relief, now he’s talking about cable bills, and when Hillary Clinton came to town to show she could get support in the black community, he led her press conference. If he had a mega-church and tens of thousands of people considered him their spiritual leader, that might be one thing, but that isn’t the case.

    The press has to take some responsibility for reporting these events straight up without giving any context about who’s behind the collar – and that goes for any religion and any race. If it’s going to take a misfired stunt with a cable bill to get the press to treat paid spokespeople with some skepticism, we’re going to keep seeing this tactic for a long time.

  24. - Buck Turgidson - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 1:27 pm:

    From psalms, I believe:

    Yea though I walk through the valley of cable monopoly, I fear no evil, for AT&T art with me. Thy high-speed internet and thy affordable long distance service, they comfort me.

    Thou preparest a host of channels before me, at a comparable cost to thy enemies.

    Thou anointest my television with digital video recording – my list of episodes of American Idol to catch up with overfloweth.

    Surely cable choice and high speed inernet will follow me all the days of my life. And I will sit my lazy behind in the house in front of the television forever.

  25. - Roger - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 1:57 pm:

    Skeeter, I don’t like Pat Robinson either…how’s THAT?? Now, try bringing something to the debate for a change.

  26. - Roger - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 2:00 pm:

    Oh, and I didn’t mention Pat Robertson because he’s not a professional extortionist.

    But man, I forgot your politics, I haven’t been here in awhile, so forgive me.

  27. - Wumpus - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 2:03 pm:

    Last night, God told me he dislikes cable and has a subscription to DirecTV

  28. - Skeeeter - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 2:13 pm:

    Why doesn’t anyone like me?

  29. - Skeeter - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 2:14 pm:


    You sure do bring something to the debate. For instance, allegations of criminal conduct. Is that really your point? Are you claiming that Rev. Jackson and Rev. Sharpton are actual criminals?

    You sure took the debate someplace, didn’t you?

    With regard to Robertson: Still trying to figure out why you mentioned the two others. Your reasons look as simple as black and white to me though.

  30. - Roger - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 2:20 pm:

    Ha,ha, ha you played the race card!! I knew you’d go there, so predictable, I love it!! You can’t defend their actions, so you stoop to this level. You’re pathetic. And the best part is, I’m black you moron!

  31. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 2:46 pm:

    Funny, when the Illinois Hospital Association trots out Cardinal George or some other Catholic leader, who don’t accuse the Cardinal of being a shill.

  32. - Roger - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 3:02 pm:

    Skeeter, believe me…you don’t know what you’re talking about saying I’m racist. Let me know if I need to draw you two a picture.

  33. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 3:05 pm:

    Well said Buck!

  34. - Holy rolling Lexus - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 4:30 pm:

    I went to a prayer breakfast in Chicago once, where Rod was going to appear. I believe these generally self-appointed Men of God are just businessmen; Every car in the church parking lot was a Lexus, a BMW, a top-end Caddy SUV. I kid you not. Every single one. Looked like a Bimmer dealership, and every car was glossy black.

    Because you have to look good rollin’ thru the hood helping the starving, unemployed, etc etc.

    Somebody’s paying for the gas. I think I know who.

  35. - HoosierDaddy - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 4:36 pm:

    Skeeter, I believe you explicitly stated that Robertson was not an ordained minister. I pointed out that he had, in fact, been ordained, and was, in fact, a minister at one time. I have not heard him claim to be a minister in quite some time.

    That’s really beside the point, though. Preaching that we ought to do more for the poor, preaching that abortion is wrong, preaching that we ought not allow homosexuals to marry, or, conversely, that the compassionate thing to do would be to allow them… all of these are materially different than advocating a particular piece of legislation or a particular candidate for office. The former is a proper role for ministers. The latter makes them shills. I don’t care if it’s Jackson, Sharpton, Robertson, or Dobson.

  36. - Slugo - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 4:42 pm:

    Once again back to the my point on the QOTD, why don’t church’s have to pay tax on income, property and purchaes? Anyone give me a good reason why they are exempt?

  37. - Skeeter - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 4:44 pm:


    Rev. Jackson is also an ordained minister (1968). In fact, unlike Robertson, he is still an ordained minister.

    My comment was directed at the distinction drawn by “Roger” who apparently puts Jackson and Sharpton in one category, and Robertson in another. He apparently also believes that two of the three are guilty of criminal conduct.

    The issue still looks black and white to me, but maybe Roger can explain his distinction.

  38. - Chi Mike - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 5:48 pm:

    Rev. Jesse Jackson should really direct his efforts to the “gang bangers” in the hood and leave the legitimate business owners alone.

  39. - zatoichi - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 6:14 pm:

    Yes, the Lord cares deeply that my “right” to cable TV is maintained in Chicago where I can get 15-20 stations over the air for free. Compared to those poor downstaters who may ONLY have 4-5 local channels. Moses (who clearly got a stipend from AT&T)must have cracked off the 11th commandment that said “Thou shall have QVC, MSNBC, History, and HBO” and the price must be under $35 a month, when he dropped the tablets from the mount.

  40. - Roger - Wednesday, May 23, 07 @ 7:30 pm:

    Hmmmm, never said anything about criminal conduct…but whatever Skeet, the facts shouldn’t get in the way.

    So, when are you going to come call me a racist to my face? I look forward to the meeting….hope you don’t mind hitting an african american however.

    See, that’s what’s great about you, you assumed I was some white racist…guess you’re not as smart as you like to think. Which explains why you come here, for some kind of validation.

  41. - Skeeter - Thursday, May 24, 07 @ 8:46 am:


    So you are referring to the far more rare “non-criminal extortion”?

    You claimed that the people engage in extortion. Don’t blame me because you made an idiotic statement.

  42. - Roger - Thursday, May 24, 07 @ 1:33 pm:

    My facts weren’t idiotic, they’re fact…you seem like you know how to use the internet, educate yourself.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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