Mary Magdalene to Rush Limbaugh: Your apology is too little, too late

Rush Limbaugh, conservative radio talk show host, attempted to silence women’s voices in the public square through sexual shaming. The … Continued

Rush Limbaugh, conservative radio talk show host, attempted to silence women’s voices in the public square through sexual shaming. The early church did the same thing to Mary Magdalene, sexually shaming her in the 6th century, mistakenly calling her a prostitute, and effectively undercutting her spiritual authority.

But today, women are not Mary Magdalene, demeaned by church authority and made into the poster woman for the repentant prostitute. Today, women have fought back against Limbaugh’s sexual shaming and they are winning.

AP

AP

In this image made from Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012 video provided by C-SPAN, Sandra Fluke, a third-year Georgetown University law student, testifies to Congress in Washington. AP Photo/C-SPAN)

After Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University law student and articulate spokeswoman for women’s reproductive health care, a “slut” and a “prostitute,” and then worse, a growing firestorm of social media driven protest pushed many of Limbaugh’s advertisers away; Limbaugh has been dropped by at least seven advertisers at last count. A Facebook page has been leading the boycott, and the Twitter hashtag, #StandwithSandra, is increasing in use.

Republican strategists, speaking anonymously out of fear of Rush’s power, have pointed to how his sexual shaming strategies “hurt Republicans.”


View Photo Gallery: A debate over the role of religion in political life has shaped recent clashes over contraception and abortion.

Indeed, Republicans are probably losing a generation of young women and men who are appalled by this sexually demeaning attack on women.

The rapid Internet driven protest, and perhaps even more, the advertisers pulling out, has prompted an “apology” of sorts from Rush Limbaugh. The “apology,” however, included Limbaugh’s insistence that the birth control debate is about “personal sexual recreational activities,” not health care, and he compared contraception to sneakers.

Some advertisers aren’t buying it. Both ProFlowers and Carbonite dropped their advertising on Limbaugh’s program after the apology. Carbonite CEO David Friend posted this message on Facebook:

Unlike what happened to Mary Magdalene, this time the attacks on women’s authority in the public square through sexual shaming didn’t work. The advent of new media, and especially social media, means women’s voices can retain and even gain authority in the face of attack.

Limbaugh ought to have paid more attention to what modern media like film did for Mary Magdalene. “The Da Vinci Code,” both the book by Dan Brown and the film based on it, has pretty much restored Mary Magdalene’s reputation as a wealthy woman and a leading supporter of Jesus of Nazareth. She was last at the cross and first at the tomb; Jesus appeared to her after his resurrection and she gained Apostolic authority in the years after Jesus’ death that rivaled even Peter. The fictional account by Dan Brown does add some non-biblical innovations, as readers and film-goers know, but the counter-narrative on Mary Magdalene has been effective.

Ron Edmonds

AP

In this Jan. 13, 2009 file photo, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh talks with guests in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Limbaugh apologized Saturday, March 3, 2012, to a Georgetown University law student he had branded a “slut” and “prostitute” after fellow Republicans as well as Democrats criticized him and several advertisers left his program.

More seriously, the Gospel of Mary, written in the second century C.E. and discovered in the 19th century, has been given scholarly attention in the 21h century. Karen L. King, in her wonderful work, “The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle,” examines this incredible text. This long lost Gospel exposes the lie that Mary of Magdala was a prostitute, and presents a convincing argument for women’s religious leadership in the early church. It is also a “sharp critique” of illegitimate power and a vision for spiritual growth. And all of this is written in the name of a woman.

Mary Magdalene had to wait almost 1500 years for her sexual shaming to be ended by new media, and then by rigorous religious scholarship.

Not now. This time, the end to the sexually demeaning attacks on women’s public authority by the likes of Rush Limbaugh takes only days, not centuries.

Somewhere I have to feel Mary Magdalene still has this message for Rush Limbaugh: Your apology was nowhere near adequate. Stop trying to sexually shame women. We won’t stand for it any more.

PS: Do read the Gospel of Mary. It’s very illuminating, especially given our times.

An On Faith panelist and former president of Chicago Theological Seminary (1998-2008), Thistlethwaite is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

  • Iqzomar394gmailcom

    The Mary of the great history.

  • IntellectOne

    First of all Saint Mary Magdalen washed Jesus’s feet with the most expensive perfume you could buy. She was so very sorry that she had offended God. (She wanted to be forgiven and show Jesus how very sorry she was and she was forgiven) She did not ask for birth-control pills so that she could ‘continue to fornicate’, supposedly without consequences,. because she knew that fornication is what got her into trouble. She picked up her Cross and followed Jesus.. She abstained, that is why she is a Saint!
    Secondlyl, Mary Magdalen would not be caught dead with Nancy Pelosi at a news conference.
    Thirdly, When is Sandra Fluke going to apologize for this big set-up with Pelosi?. It was not a hearing, but a Press Conference. She was nothing but a fake.
    Fourthly, Rush Limbaugh just called it like he heard it. He apologized for it and he should be forgiven for it. Ms Fluke did not accept his apology .
    RecommendReplyReport

  • missouribreaks

    you’re full of it lady. and youleftists have been covering upfor a marxist obama since he hit the scene. watch hannity tonight for the vetting that should have happened in 07. now look what we have ended up with get rid of the rest of the dems in november.

  • XVIIHailSkins

    I’m a republican, and your ilk are the reason I feel completely alienated from what used to be the party of fiscal conservatism in this country. Instead, it has become the party of pandering. Pandering to religious fanaticism, pandering to the idiocy of its constituents, and pandering to our national love affair with buzz words such as ‘marxist.’ I would bet the proverbial farm that you could not produce a coherent definition of marxism right now without consulting google. If you could, you wouldn’t stoop to calling contemporary American politicans marxists because you would understand how far removed we are on both sides of the aisle from marxist ideology. Stop ruining the prospects of true economic reform in this country by clouding the republican message with your vitriolic idiocy.

  • ccnl1

    From the Land of Loading More and More Comments and only for the newbies:

    Beyond all the politics and onto the nitty gritty, something Susan T refuses to discuss:

    The Brutal Effects of Stupidity: ———>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    : The failures of the widely used birth “control” methods i.e. the Pill ( 8.7% failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute. Guttmacher has listed these safer methods in their on-line reviews. Doubling up i.e. Pill plus condom or mutual masturbation are not listed but should be.

    Added information before making your next move:

    from the CDC-2006

    “Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars.”

    And from:

    Consumer Reports, January, 2012

    “Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-

    Here’s a crucial message for teens (and all se-xually active “post-teeners”: Or-al se-x carries many of the same risks as va-ginal se-x, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of or-al cancers in America in people under age 50.

    “Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about,” said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at t

  • IntellectOne

    Joh Stuart had the Head of Planned Parenthood on TV, Cecilia Richards, boasting of how much they have done for society and how many clinics they have and how they help the Women’s Reproductive Health, which is a ‘Euphemism’ for Abortion?.(Planned Parenthood is not staffed to help any woman with her health needs) (Their workers are like Acorn workers. A doctor might be there for 1 hour. in 8 hours time ) Yet they collect millions and millions of tax dollars. She boasted how many birth-control pills they give away. (the audience gave a big applause, as though, she was a star). Question?, why is the President out promoting birth-control pills,? Why is Joh Stuart promoting birth-control pills by giving Cecilia Richards a platform? Why is the head of Planned Parenthood promoting birth-control pills on TV?
    Why didn’t Jon Stuart ask how many clinics they have around Georgetown University that give away birth-control pills?. Why was Sandra Fluke so unaware, at the age of 30, about all these Planned Parenthood clinics?
    Has the Birth-control Pill become the ‘Latest Crisis’ of this administration?

  • chenchuchi

    This is going too far and too long in the U.S. news media. Neither a Democrat or Republican, but I support Rush Limbaugh’s freedom of speech the same as Sandra Fluke’s. But it’s more a shame to use taxpayer’s money for anything even in the name of public interests.

  • Channah

    Oh what the early church did! I still believe there was something ”more” between Mary Magdalene and Jesus. Also, they may have been married as a ”nice Jewish boy” would never have been unmarried, unless he was really strange. Remember the ”be fruitful and multiply”? This was formost to them.

    Another huge example of church mix-up. The Hebrew word for young woman was mistranslated as virgin. Mary, mother of Jesus, was a young woman, NOT a virgin. Also, she was never important till the church was trying to convert the Romans and Greeks from their goddesses Artemis and Diana. They gave Mary a goddess concept so conversion was easier to get. They needed their goddesses.

    Also, they made up the concept of Jesus being holy. This was made up at the Council of Nicea-over 300 years after his death. It was not an issue before then.

    I could go on and on—showing how the religion was made up to control the people.

  • lastofall

    The question should be, “What DID Mary Magdalene do”? She knew she was wrong, and repented, which is not what your premise support´s; rather your premise is that you have license to be a stone thrower, because your premise supposes that you are without sin.

  • cricket44

    Intellect, please change your name. You have no concept of what you are blathering about. You don’t use facts or rational thought. You *obviously* have never found out how PP actually works, just swallowed the hysteria whole. It makes you look completely ignorant.

  • duchess3

    Channah,

    You’re incorrect with your theology. If you were to study bible doctrine from a pastor who teaches from the original Hebrew and Greek/Aramaic languages you would have factual information.
    Jesus was born of a virgin birth because God the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary. She was not perfect. Jesus Christ was.

    Religion is man seeking he approbation of God through works.
    Christianity is God seeking man through the work of Jesus Christ who died on the cross as a substitute for all mankind.
    Anyone who believes in Christ has eternal life. Faith alone in Christ alone, nothing else is required. That is not religion.

    Living the Christian life after salvation requires learning bible doctrine/the mind of Christ and applying it. Most Christians today have no interest in learning bible doctrine, so the nation declines and everyone, of all faiths and beliefs, suffers with instability, irrationality and unhappiness.
    The Lord will get our attention.

  • IntellectOne

    Spoken right from the Planned Parenthood Playbook. Actually it is a very evil place. Maybe some day you will come out of the dark…..
    Planned Parenthood is in it for the money, they are not a charitable organizations as they purport to be. ‘Womens Reproductive Healthcare is a Euphemism for Abortions, at any stage! You better get the facts!.

  • IntellectOne

    First of all Saint Mary Magdalen washed Jesus’s feet with the most expensive perfume you could buy. She was so very sorry that she had offended God. (She wanted to be forgiven and show Jesus how very sorry she was and she was forgiven) She did not ask for birth-control pills so that she could ‘continue to fornicate’, supposedly without consequences,. because she knew that fornication is what got her into trouble. She picked up her Cross and followed Jesus.. She abstained, that is why she is a Saint!
    Secondlyl, Mary Magdalen would not be caught dead with Nancy Pelosi at a news conference.
    Thirdly, When is Sandra Fluke going to apologize for this big set-up with Pelosi?. It was not a hearing, but a Press Conference. She was nothing but a fake.
    Fourthly, Rush Limbaugh just called it like he heard it. He apologized for it and he should be forgiven for it. Ms Fluke did not accept his apology .

  • IntellectOne

    Obviously, this article ‘Exposes’ the’ Sick ‘Power Struggle’ going on in America.
    Jesus only picked men for his Apostles, because that was the only common sensible thing to do.
    “Jesus is the Same Today, as Yesterday, and Will Be the Same Tomorrow”..
    The Church has always put The Blessed Virgin Mary, High in Order, and honored her, because she is the Mother of Jesus Christ. She was as human as every Woman and Mother living today. However, she was a Virgin and Remained a Virgin and is Perfect. We know that Jesus would not pick a Mother that would not be Perfect. The Church has always looked to her for an Example of Purity and Modesty, for the women and for the men to Respect women. If the men are married, the Church has always taught ,that the men must Love the wife as Jesus Loves His Church. The Church knows exactly what Mary Magdalen was,because the pharisee that invited Jesus spoke within himself, ‘this man, if he were a prophet, would know surely, who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him, that she is a sinner.”. What else would ‘manner of woman’ in the context, in which the pharisee is speaking, mean? It appears that the pharisee was shocked that she repented.

  • cricket44

    You have no facts in your post. None. It’s amazing and, well, pathetic.

  • PLB2

    Your column refers the Gospel of Mary Magdalene as “this incredible text”. Did you really mean to say that this text is “incredible”. meaning unbelievable. If this text is indeed incredible, why on earth would you recommend that we read it?

  • quark2

    intellectone,

    reproductive health is a euphemism for abortion? how about reproductive health means pap smears, gyn exams & mammograms. a small percentage of what pp does is abortions.

  • Aristizabal7

    A masterfully written approach!!!

    Thank You

  • George-W

    So RushLim says he is .. an entertainer.

    RushLim did not claim to be a pundit, an analyst, a reporter, a sage, a deacon, a leader, a role model, principled, original, clever, visionary,
    successful, effective, noteworthy, memorable, influential, enlightened, great,
    distinguidshed, elegant, eminent, majestic, or honorable.

    Nay. RushLim says he is an entertainer.
    en·ter·tain·er/ˌentərˈtānər/
    Noun:
    A person, such as a singer, dancer, or comedian, whose job is to entertain others.

    W

  • Channah

    duchess3-

    Not from my Jewish viewpoint. And, my translations come from study with Rabbis who read and study from the Hebrew. This is a complete mistranslation. Do you speak Hebrew?

    I was raised in a Chrsitian home, but, from study and faith in G-d——————my G-d would never come to earth in human form. This is blasphemy to the name of G-d.

  • yokosuka1985

    When are we going to see you go after Letterman for his comments about Gov. Palin’s daughter?

  • codexjust1

    Read Leviticus to see what would be considered “sinful” at that time. It is far more likely that they meant disobedient since carnal sins would be punished with death by stoning and not merely a tut-tutting by the Pharisees. And as for what the church knows, they used to know that the sun revolved around the earth and that diseases could be cured with repeated bleedings. This is why man is given free will and a mind of his own, so he is not bamboozled by idiots pretending to be holy and wise.

  • independent31

    Gee what about Bill Maher..I guess you can only call republicans dirty names just off limits to liberals?

  • jeannie1

    Quote: Republicans are probably losing a generation of young women and men who are appalled by this sexually demeaning attack on women

    They aren’t just loosing the Young Men and Women, they loosing all men and women with any commen sense at all!

    Evangelicals aside, of course.. they are special breed of crazy!