Thursday, January 27, 2005

Church Group Refutes Dobson, Embraces SpongeBob

In an effort to refute the anti-gay crusade of Dr. James Dobson, the United Church of Christ issued a press briefing that said "Jesus' message of extravagant welcome extends to all, including SpongeBob SquarePants."

"Absolutely, the UCC extends an unequivocal welcome to SpongeBob," the Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC's general minister and president, said in the Jan. 24 release. "Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we."

The UCC called Dobson's protest against an anti-bigotry video featuring SpongeBob and other cartoon characters "laughable accusations."

"While Dobson's silly accusation makes headlines, it's also one more concrete example of how religion is misused over and over to promote intolerance over inclusion," Thomas said. "This is why we believe it is so important that the UCC speak the Gospel in an accent not often heard in our culture, because far too many experience the cross only as judgment, never as embrace."

***

Thomas said that Dobson, despite his viewpoints, is one of the most oft-heard religious voices in popular culture today, with daily commentaries that appear widely on television and radio stations across the United States. Dobson is also a regular on various conservative "news" shows, such as those broadcast by Fox News and Christian Broadcasting Network.

Ironically, a 30-second television commercial UCC produced to underscore the denomination's belief that "Jesus didn't turn anyone away" has been rejected by two television networks as "too controversial."

"Resistance to our message is formidable," Thomas said. "We're cutting against the prevailing grain of a society that is afraid of the stranger, suspicious of difference and easily seduced by narrowly defined theological boundaries."

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