Kathy Griffin's Jesus Remark Draws Fire from Christians

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By Katherine T. Phan, Christian Post Reporter
September 13, 2007|10:56 am

In latest saga of Hollywood assaults on Christianity, comic Kathy Griffin has come under fire from multiple groups for her offensive Jesus remarks at the recent Creative Arts Emmy Awards.

Griffin made the remark over the weekend upon receiving the award for Outstanding Reality Program for her show "My Life on the D-List."

"I guess hell froze over," said Griffin, whose show overtook ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. "A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus.”

Holding up her statuette, Griffin topped off her off-script speech by saying, "Suck it, Jesus. This award is my god now."

Griffin’s remarks immediately drew harsh criticism Monday from Catholic League President Bill Donohue, who called on the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences to denounce what he called “vulgar in-your-face brand of hate speech.”

“It is incumbent upon Dick Askin, chairman and chief executive officer of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, to denounce Griffin’s obscene and blasphemous comment,” said Donohue.

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He went on to suggest that the situation would have received due attention if it were Islam as the target instead of Christianity.

“It is sure bet that if Griffin had said, ‘Suck it, Muhammad,’ there would have been a very different reaction from the crowd and from the media who covered this event. To say nothing of the Muslim reaction,” continued Donohue.

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences said in a statement Monday that it will censor Griffin’s “offensive remarks” when the event will be broadcasted this Saturday on the E! channel. The remarks will also be edited from official Emmy Awards broadcast the next day on Fox.

While Donahue was pleased that TV Academy “reacted responsibly,” he still called on Griffin to apologize for her “verbal assault on 85 percent of the U.S. population.”

“The ball is now in Griffin’s court,” he said. “The self-described ‘complete militant atheist’ needs to make a swift and unequivocal apology to Christians. If she does, she will get this issue behind her. If she does not, she will be remembered as a foul-mouthed bigot for the rest of her life.”

But an apology from Griffin appears unlikely. Griffin, who has made her career from raucous remarks at celebrities, reacted to the situation lightly, according to Reuters, saying, "Am I the only Catholic left with a sense of humor?"

Even those closer to Griffin are reproaching her actions.

Sherri Shepherd, a stand-up comic who formerly co-starred with Griffin in Suddenly Susan, also told The View on Tuesday morning, “I love Kathy but I was trying to text her, 'Girl, you know you ain't supposed to be saying no mess like that.'

"There's just a line that you shouldn't cross, there's a reverence for God that we should have."

However, on the other side of the camp, the President of American Atheists is backing Griffin’s freedom to express herself as an atheist and said that the League and the Academy were censoring speech by atheists.

"It's permissible to make religious comments at the Emmy Awards and other public events as long as they do not criticize or threaten the self-appointed 'Religion Police," said Johnson. “Atheists cannot make an honest and forthright statement that their success came from developing their talents and working hard."

While the Griffin’s Jesus remark controversy has evoked strong reactions from many sides, its assault on Christianity is not an isolated case in Hollywood.

Comedians on air often use Christianity as an easy target for punch lines and political remarks.

In January, Christians protested Conan O’Brien’s portrayal of a “homophobic country western singer,” who sang about a “touchin’” Jesus.

Later, in March, Comedy Central featured a segment in which Sarah Silverman had sex with a character playing a black God and then trying to brush him off afterward.

And last year, Rosie O’Donnell, former co-host of ABC’s The View, had made remarks comparing “radical Christianity” to radical Islam.

Regarding Griffin’s recent offense, Donahue said: “Mel Gibson. Michael Richards. Isaiah Washington. [Don] Imus. Jerry Lewis. Every time a celebrity offends a segment of the population, he pays a price, in one way or another. The question now is whether Kathy Griffin will pay a similar price for her outburst.”

 

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