America Christianity/Religion Life

Offensive Cartoon Response from Washington Post

A biblical scholar, pastor, and President of a United Pentecostal Seminary, Urshan Graduate School of Theology, David Bernard, has joined with others in writing letters of protest to the Washington Post for their recently published offensive cartoon. Pastor Bernard has received a reply the Washington Post, and has responded to their answer, challenging their integrity. This material is taken directly from the web site of New Life Center of Austin, Texas.

Pastor Bernard’s Response to Washington Post Cartoon

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

Dear Washington Post,

As a Pentecostal pastor, theologian and educator, I am disappointed by Pat Oliphant’s recent cartoon that ridicules Pentecostal beliefs and practices and portrays God in a way that is blasphemous to Pentecostals as well as many other Christians. Under the First Amendment, you have a right to publish such a cartoon. Nevertheless, it displays ignorance of Pentecostal beliefs, and it expresses prejudice against Pentecostals because of their religious identity. It is a clear example of bigotry. Although you likewise have a constitutional right to publish a racist cartoon or a cartoon ridiculing Muslims, I do not think you would do so. To be consistent with your own standards, you should apologize.

David K. Bernard
President, Urshan Graduate School of Theology, Florissant, Missouri,
Pastor, New Life United Pentecostal Church, 4001 Adelphi Lane, Austin, Texas 78727

Pat Oliphant is a syndicated editorial cartoonist carried on news sites across the country. It is the nature of an editorial cartoonist to be provocative and offer up unique — and often controversial — viewpoints on the issues of the day. I have always opted for the approach that we should not limit the cartoonist’s freedom of speech. We prefer to present the cartoon and allow you, the reader, to make the choice on whether to read it or not, and to express your own freedom of speech if you’re bothered or offended by it.Thanks,
Jim Brady
Executive Editor

Dear Mr. Brady,Thank you for your response concerning the cartoon recently published by the Washington Post that attacks the Pentecostal faith. I don’t question Mr. Pat Oliphant’s right to free speech. However, I question whether you are really being accurate in saying, in effect, that you will publish anything by a syndicated editorial cartoonist as long as it is protected as free speech under the U.S. Constitution.

Specifically, is it the official policy of the Washington Post to publish material that is bigoted, prejudiced, and discriminatory against people’s religious identity? If so, does this policy apply only to material attacking Pentecostals, or does it also apply to statements that ridicule Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Protestants, and so on? Also, does this policy mean that the Washington Post will publish racist, sexist, and other biased material as long as it is submitted by a syndicated editorial cartoonist? After all, freedom of speech applies to these types of speech as well.

In short, you still owe your readers an apology for publishing bigoted, offensive statements about the Pentecostal faith.

David K. Bernard
President, Urshan Graduate School of Theology, Florissant, MO
Pastor, New Life United Pentecostal Church, Austin, TX