Dr. Ted Baehr is the guy behind Movieguide, which is an indispensable resource for those who think a family night at the movies shouldn't involve having to covers the kids' eyes and ears. He's a fixture on Christian radio and, for many folks, he's the first and last word on what to see. And he's chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission, a watchdog group dedicated to "redeeming the values of the entertainment industry by influencing industry executives and by informing and equipping the public about the influence of the entertainment media."
When he speaks, Hollywood listens—or ignores him at its own peril. And Ted Baehr's not very happy with ABC right now, calling the network out for taking "blasphemy against God, the Bible, God's church, and Jesus Christ to new levels of depravity."
The reason for his unhappiness is GCB, a new series staring, among others, Leslie Bibb and the immediately recognizable Kristin Chenoweth, about a woman named Amanda Vaughn who moves with her two children back to Dallas from Los Angeles as the result of marital and financial problems. There, she confronts her past as a "mean girl" and encounters former classmates who, Baehr said in a release, "are as likely to gossip viciously about their returned rival as they are to offer up a humiliating prayer about her in church."
It goes on from there, with the explicitly Christian, church-going characters portrayed as immoral while the only virtuous character doesn't appear to have any interest in faith. "While we all know that there are hypocrites in every institution and every religion, GCB uses southern Christian women as the sole, stereotypical examples of self-indulgence, shallowness, and hypocrisy," Baehr said in a release.
"Although the series may prove better than its trailers and name suggest, the fact that GCB ridicules God, morality, and Christians, who are little more than stereotypes, raises concerns for both families and Christians," Baehr added, calling for people who share his concerns to call or write letters to Robert Iger, chairman of the ABC-owning Walt Disney Company, and let him know how they feel.
It's an interesting juxtaposition given the current debate. Make fun of a law school student who outrageously claims that the cost of birth control is $1,000 per year—thus requiring a federal subsidy to make it affordable—and you lose advertisers. Make fun of Christians and you get a prime-time series on a network owned by a company that used to represent the gold standard for family entertainment. The people who argue there is a "culture war" underway may be on to something, never mind the fact that the New York Times and similar publications regard those who believe that as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals.