First up from the God Machine this week is a curious take from a religious right radio host who has some concerns about a popular Disney movie.
For context, it’s worth noting that conservative complaints about children’s entertainment, especially movies, has been pretty common in recent years. It wasn’t too long ago, for example, that Fox News’ Eric Bolling was pretty worked up about the Muppets. Soon after, Lou Dobbs was deeply troubled by a movie about a Dr. Seuss character called The Lorax.
But this story takes these kinds of concerns to a whole new level.
Religious Right talk show host Kevin Swanson railed against the Disney film Frozen on Wednesday, accusing Disney of using the movie to turn children gay.Swanson told cohost Steve Vaughn that Satan is using the movie “to indoctrinate my 5-year-old to be a lesbian.”
Right Wing Watch posted the audio clip, and in case there’s any doubt, note that Swanson wasn’t kidding. He actually told his audience, “You wonder sometimes, I’m not a tinfoil hat conspiratorialist, but you wonder sometimes if maybe there’s something very evil happening here. If I was the Devil, what would I do to really foul up an entire social system and do something really, really, really evil to 5- and 6- and 7-year-olds in Christian families around America?”
He added, “I wonder if people are thinking: ‘You know I think this cute little movie is going to indoctrinate my 5-year-old to be a lesbian or treat homosexuality or bestiality in a light sort of way.’ I wonder if the average parent going to see Frozen is thinking that way. I wonder if they are just walking in and saying, ‘Yeah, let’s get my five-year-old and seven-year-old indoctrinated early.’ You know they’re not, I think for the most part they’re oblivious.”
As long-time readers may recall, these concerns may seem over the top, but the general area of concern is hardly unprecedented. Perhaps the quintessential example was Jerry Falwell going after Tinky Winky the Teletubby, but that merely started a lengthy, larger campaign. One conservative group went after “Shrek.” Another targeted “Shark Tale.” James Dobson launched a broadside against SpongeBob SquarePants, while Fox News’ Neil Cavuto perceived “Happy Feet” as political propaganda.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* Another lawsuit waiting to happen: “Trouble is brewing down in Georgia, as state lawmakers recently approved a measure that would allow a granite Ten Commandments monument to be displayed outside the state capitol.”
* Interesting polling data: “One in five Americans say religion does not play an important role in their lives, a new NBC/WSJ journal poll shows – the highest percentage since the poll began asking participants about their focus on faith in 1997. Twenty one percent of respondents said that religion is “not that important” to their lives…. In 1997, 14 percent of Americans said religion did not play an important role in their lives.”
* The Mars Hill Church in Seattle was accused this week of paying a marketing company “at least $210,000 in 2011 and 2012 to ensure that Real Marriage, a book written by Mark Driscoll, the church’s founding pastor, and his wife Grace, made the New York Times best-seller list” (thanks to reader R.P. for the tip).
* And this week, inclement weather in the nation’s capital temporarily shut down the exterior lights on the U.S. Capitol dome. A notable televangelist thinks he can explain what happened: “Television preacher Pat Robertson on Thursday explained that God had caused a brief power outage in Washington, D.C. to mock Senate Democrats who held a late-night discussion about climate change.”