Arts & Entertainment
American Family Association infomercial raises concerns for West Michigan LBGT community
by BTL staff
Originally printed 2/12/2009 (Issue 1707 - Between The Lines News)
GRAND RAPIDS - Collette Beighley has barely had time to get her feet wet as the new associate program director of the office of LGBT Concerns at Grand Valley State University, but that is not stopping her from raising the alarm about an infomercial the virulently anti-gay American Family Association wants to run on the local NBC affiliate, WOOD TV 8.
The hour-long program, titled "Speechless," is being run on various news channels throughout the U.S. In an action alert sent out by AFA President Tim Wildmon, the video is introduced to readers as follows:
"Local network television stations will soon begin airing a new television special produced by the American Family Association. Most Americas get their information about the homosexual movement from the secular news media and Hollywood, which not only support but promote the gay agenda. What people know is tainted by pro-homosexual propaganda.
AFA now presents this one-hour special to reveal the truth about the radical homosexual agenda and its impact on the family, the nation, and religious freedom."
The action alert claims to "reveal the truth" about such issues as homosexuality as a genetic trait, the impact on children, same-sex marriage and hate crime and Employment Non-Discrimination Act legislation, among other things.
The video is available online at www.SilencingChristians.com. It includes numerous misleading claims, including an allegation that hate crimes legislation will lead to the criminalization of preaching. To support this claim, the AFA authors use an incident from Canada, which does not have the First Amendment as the U.S. does, where a minister was arrested for preaching against homosexuality.
The video also claims that 11 Christians were arrested in 2002 in Philidelphia for expressing their Biblical views. The Philly 11, as they are referred to in the video, were actually arrested for disrupting OutFest, a gay event in the city. Only five of the 11 arrested were charged and those charges were eventually dismissed. That information is never presented in the video.
Originally scheduled to air Monday, Feb. 9 on WOOD TV 8, the infomercial was pulled because WOOD officials felt it was not "right" to lead into a press conference with President Barack Obama. A Columbus, Ohio television station has also delayed showing the infomercial while the station manager reviews the video.
Diane Kniowski, general manager of WOOD TV 8, released a statement on Feb. 10 regarding the program. "The scheduling of the show slipped through our filters. We don't pre-judge people's ideas or opinions," she wrote. "However, we have restrictions on controversal programming...if the show airs, we will have disclaimers at the beginning and end of the show stating that these are not the opinions or views of this station."
WOOD TV 8 is still planning to air the program, and Beighley is asking people to contact the station and express their dismay at the infomercial. She has set up a Facebook group to oppose the airing of the program called Tell WOOD TV 8 to Stop the Hate.
"Please contact WOOD TV8 to let them know this kind of irresponsible broadcasting is biased, unprofessional and leads to hate violence against the gay community," the Facebook group's page reads.To contact WOOD TV 8, call or write to Program Director Craig Cole at 616-456-8888 or firstname.lastname@example.org.