A recent Law & Order show portraying a leader in a college Christian ministry as anti-homosexual and Christians as "Bible thumpers" is drawing ire from a watchdog group for anti-Christian bigotry.
In the opening of the NBC show's episode last week, a leader in a college Christian ministry, who opposed homosexuality, was portrayed as being guilty of making death threats against a professor studying the "gay gene." The lead detective also refers to Christians as "Bible thumpers."
There is a relentless attempt by the media to stereotype Christians as prone to violence, said Dr. Gary Cass, chairman and CEO of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, as he criticized the producers as insensitive.
"There's a tendency on the side of the media to make what I call a 'moral equivalency': If you are a fundamentalist Muslim, you are violent. If you are a fundamentalist Christian, you are violent," he told The Christian Post.
Contrary to the media's portrayal, Christians are often the victims of violence and not the perpetrators, said Cass. He noted that there are rare reports from around the world of Christians murdering a Muslim or a Hindu but frequent news on Hindus murdering Christians.
He added that it is negative portrayals of Christians like that featured in Law & Order which are used to "legitimate violence against Christians."
The Christian leader was also stereotyped as being anti-homosexual, which reflects a common perception among young adults, according to a recent study.
A Barna Group survey last September reported that the most common perception among people between 16-29 years old is that present-day Christianity is "anti-homosexual." Around 91 percent of young non-Christians and 80 percent of young churchgoers say this phrase describes Christianity. A majority from both categories also believe that Christians show excessive contempt and unloving attitudes towards gays and lesbians.
Fundamentalist Christians aside, Christians often distinguish the difference between homosexuality as a sin denounced by the Bible and homosexuals as people who should be treated with the love of God.
When asked whether real situations in which Christians exhibit hostility toward homosexuals are possibly reflected in the show, Cass said such instances are "very exceptional."
"Every once in a while, some nutjob Christians will do something stupid," acknowledged the CADC head.
He emphasized that acts of violence against homosexuals or any other groups are "always condemned by Christians.
Christians don't condone violence, he noted.
Also denouncing the media's use of "Bible thumpers," Cass said the label is an attempt to depict people who take the Bible seriously as ignorant.
Cass further noted that the show's coverage on the "gay gene" was misleading because the idea was portrayed as a fact.
"There is no such thing as a gay gene," he said.
He urged Christians to contact NBC and the show's executive producer, Dick Wolf, and tell them to stop bashing Christians.
They should do the show in a way "that is accurate," making it clear that the character's violent act is not representative of Christians, said Cass.