The executive and deputy directors of Alabama Public Television were fired this month after expressing their opposition to new programming priorities on the state-operated public TV network. The Alabama Educational Television Commission (AETC), whose Republican-led board oversees APT, has been pushing to schedule programming from the religious right that emphasizes conservative, anti-gay ideology.
At AETC’s March board meeting, commission members advocated for airing videotaped shows by a far-right evangelical Christian group called WallBuilders that pushes for a biblical view of U.S. history in its American Heritage Series. WallBuilders is headed up by psuedo-historian David Barton, a Religious Right activist who believes homosexuality should be illegal. Just a few of Barton’s anti-gay tirades have included:
— BARTON: When you find homosexuality in nature, it is an aberration, there is no homosexual group in nature that survives, it can’t, it simply can’t, in nature it happens but it’s always an aberration. What is normal is heterosexual, and that is a law of nature and it’s a law of nature’s God. [Right Wing Watch]
— BARTON: Based on the statutes, legal commentaries, and the writings of prominent military leaders, it is clear that any idea of homosexuals serving in the military was considered with repugnance; this is incontrovertible, with no room for differing interpretations. The thought of lifting this proscription is a modern phenomenon, and would have brought disbelief, disdain, and condemnation from those who established our Armed Forces. [WallBuilders]
— BARTON: Legislators around the country are considering banning sugar and fatty foods in schools, removing salt and butter from restaurants and want to control what temperature you can have in your own homes, because they fear the potential of health problems. Perhaps they should consider banning the promotion of a lifestyle that the Centers For Disease Control has determined actually causes HIV/AIDS. [Right Wing Watch]
Minutes from the March meeting suggest that the former executive director was resisting the pressure to add Barton’s religious programming to Alabama Public Television’s nine public TV stations.
The online organization Faithful America, a progressive faith-based activist group, has gathered over 10,000 signatures for a petition affirming that radically conservative religious propaganda has no place on a public television network. The petition states that people of faith reject AETC’s partisan agenda and demands that “the leaders of the Alabama Educational Television Commission to reinstate these staffers and keep Religious Right hate off their stations.”