Keith Olbermann on MSNBC's Countdown has recently been the target of a campaign by James Dobson's Focus on the Family. It started with a "controversy" over a cartoon character Spongebob, who was being used in a video to teach tolerance to school children. Dobson decided that the video was "sinister" and launched an effort against it and Spongebob. Olbermann was critical of this effort so a campaign including e-mail bombing was launched against him.
Some things worth noting. The US senate is debating the issue of torture and the nomination of Alberto Gonzales. It's still not too late to call your senator and urge the defeat of this nomination. But Dobson's group has largely remained silent on this issue. Rather energies have been directed against this cartoon with tactics which do not reflect well on them or on our religious faith. It baffles my imagination that such groups have been able to capture the language of morals and faith.
This would have been another piece where I complain about the state of religion in this country and the media's coverage of this. But this story is different because of two players. The United Church of Christ, which deserves kudos, for responding to this "controversy" with a mix of humor and gospel. They issued a press release showing that God's welcome even includes those who are maligned, in this case a cartoon character.
Keith Olbermann deserves kudos as well in picking up the UCC response. Tonight he interviewed Katy Hawker, pastor of a UCC congregation in St. Louis, who recently held a service which honored the value of tolerance to which the cartoon character, Spongebob, had come to signify. So instead of an event which embarasses the faith both Olbermann and the UCC was able to use this as an opportunity to give an airing to a more open way of living out one's Christian faith. Cool, eh?