SpongeBob SquarePants, a beloved childrens cartoon character, has been exploited by an organization thats determined to promote the acceptance of homosexuality among our nations youth, according to Christian evangelical and pro-family groups.
The matter arose on Thursday, when Dr. James Dobson, president and founder of Focus on the Family, was quoted by the New York Times as saying that SpongeBobs creators enlisted him in a pro-homosexual video during remarks to a pre-inauguration dinner in Washington.
Dr. Dobson was referring to the recently completed music video for kids, where dozens of popular animated characters sing a rendition of Sister Sledges 1979 hit song We are Family. Nile Rogers, a veteran musician and producer of the new music video, said his We Are Family Foundation plans to give away 60,000 copies of the video to childrens schools after it is aired next month on several television networks.
According to the Mississippi-based American Family Association, the video subtly promotes homosexuality and all sexual orientations.
"On the surface, the project may appear to be a worthwhile attempt to foster greater understanding of cultural differences," wrote Ed Vitagliano, editor of the monthly journal. "However, a short step beneath the surface reveals that one of the differences being celebrated is homosexuality."
Vitagliano added that the Foundations website clearly reveals the agenda to redefine family to include homosexual couples and homosexual couples raising children.
We are concerned that children who go to the Web site might encounter a moral message about homosexuality that their parents might not approve of, said Vitagliano.
Peter Sprigg, senior director of policy studies of the Family Research Council, agreed.
If you look at the Web site, it becomes pretty clear that a part of the agenda is to change the definition of family to include virtually anyone who chooses to be called a family, including homosexual couples and homosexual couples raising children, said Sprigg. Much of what they have is coded language that is regularly used by the pro homosexual movement such as tolerance and diversity.
On the Foundations website, there are links to organizations that promote the gay and lesbian lifestyle.
Ultimately we feel that this is being used as propaganda to indoctrinate very small children to accept a different definition of family, said Sprigg.
Rogers, meanwhile, denied the assertions, and said conservatives focus is ludicrous.
"I don't understand their motivation," Rodgers said of his critics. "Nothing could be more devastating to the people who believe in me and our organization than to imply there's an insidious undercurrent to it."
"Focusing on SpongeBob is almost as ludicrous as focusing on the 'sexual identity' reference in the tolerance pledge," he said to the Associated Press.
However, according to Focus on the Family, the issue is neither about the sexual identity of SpongeBob nor about the disconcerting references on the website.
From the outset, let's be clear that this issue is not about objections to any specific cartoon characters. Instead, Dr. Dobson is concerned that these popular animated personalities are being exploited by an organization that's determined to promote the acceptance of homosexuality among our nation's youth, a statement on the Focus on the Family website read.
We applaud the ideal of championing to children the value and dignity of every human life as well as respect for our differences. What we vehemently object to is using these beloved characters to help advance an agenda that's beyond the comprehension of 6 and 7 year-old children, not to mention morally offensive to millions of moms and dads, they added.
The video in question is slated to be distributed to 61,000 public and private elementary schools throughout the United States. Where it is shown, schoolchildren will be left with the impression that their teachers are offering their endorsement of the values and agenda associated with the video's sponsor. While some of the goals associated with this organization are noble in nature, their inclusion of the reference to "sexual identity" within their "tolerance pledge" is not only unnecessary, but it crosses a moral line.
Focus on the Family also added that the videos should not be distributed publicly since it trumps on the authority of mothers and fathers.
We believe that it is the privilege of parents to decide how, when and where it is appropriate to introduce their children to these types of sensitive issues. The distribution of this video trumps the authority of mothers and fathers and leaves it in the hands of strangers whose standards may very well be different than the children they teach, the statement read.
By calling it to light this video and its affiliation with this larger organization, we are attempting to do for parents what their busy lives often prevent them from doing themselves--connecting the dots
The We are Family Foundation Web site www.wearefamilyfoundation.org says the video will arrive at schools by March 11, the same day the video will air on Nickelodeon, PBS and the Disney Channel.