Anti-Christian Bigotry?

Pastor Donald Wildmon and a group of more than 800 church leaders have demanded an end to what they call anti-Christian bigotry in programs and movies produced by the nation’s major networks and movie studios.

The Christian leaders’ statement calls for the entertainment industry to “stop its unbalanced portrayal of characters depicted as Christians in its movies and television programs. This anti-Christian bias in movies and programs is not acceptable to us, just as it is not acceptable to all fair-minded Americans. We agree that some Christians act, sometimes, in the negative manner as depicted on television and in movies. But we also believe there is a complete lack of balance. Rarely on programs or movies cast in a modern-day setting are Christians shown in a neutral, much less a positive manner.”

Statements were sent to NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox Television, as well as to Columbia Pictures, MCA/Universal, MGM/UA Communications, Paramount Entertainment, Warner Brothers, Twentieth Century Fox, Lorimar, and Walt Disney.

ABC, Columbia Entertainment, and MCA/Universal have responded to the statement. “We do not, and we cannot with any sense of conscience, censor our filmmakers,” said Lew Wasserman, chairman of the board of MCA/Universal, citing the company’s right to free speech.

Court Rejects Move

A Missouri court has ruled that the father of 20-year-old Christine Busalacchi may not move his comatose daughter to a hospital in Minnesota, which has more permissive right-to-die laws than Missouri. The 2-to-1 decision reversed an earlier lower-court ruling to allow Peter Busalacchi to move his daughter. Christine, who has been in a vegetative state since a car crash in 1987, is in the same Missouri hospital as was Nancy Cruzan, who died late last year after her parents won a landmark Supreme Court battle to remove her feeding tubes.

“We will not permit [the] guardian to forum shop in an effort to control whether Christine lives or dies,” said Missouri Eastern District Court of Appeals Chief Judge William Crandall. Videotape shown during the recent trial indicates that Christine laughs, eats, bends her knee on command, and says “Hi.”

Cerullo Sued By Stockholders

The television evangelist who late last year paid $52 million for Jim Bakker’s South Carolina theme park is now being sued by fellow stockholders, who accuse him of routing park funds into his own California-based ministry.

Morris Cerullo was accused in March by business partners of fraud, conspiracy, and breach of contract in the use of money he received from selling memberships in the Christian theme park, which he renamed New Heritage USA. Cerullo’s fellow investors own 51 percent of the theme park’s stock; he owns the other 49 percent. They claim that Cerullo sold about $4 million worth of $300 and $1,000 memberships to the park to about 14,300 people, who were promised discounted rates during their visits. The stockholders said the discounts could throw the park into financial trouble, and they called for Cerullo to return the money to the contributors.

Cerullo in late March sent out mailings saying that those who purchased memberships could receive refunds or donate the money to Cerullo’s ministry, said Kirt Salisbury, vice-president of communications for Morris Cerullo World Evangelism, Inc.

The allegations are similar to ones that eventually sent former PTL leader Jim Bakker to jail. Bakker was convicted of fraud for selling more “lifetime partnerships” to the public than the park could handle.

Briefly Noted

Cleared: Calvin College physics professor Howard Van Till, of charges that his beliefs violated the college’s doctrinal guidelines. The charges originated after the 1986 publication of Van Till’s book The Fourth Day, which treated questions about science and creation. Van Till, according to a special committee report, accepts “without reservation” the doctrines articulated in the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dort.

Decided: By First Presbyterian Church of Houston, to remain in the Presbyterian Church (USA). The 1,296-to-760 vote on March 17 culminated six months of debate between Concerned Members, a group advocating a switch to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, and Loyal Presbyterians, which urged preserving the church’s original ties.

Died: Robert A. Cook, 78, former president and chancellor of The King’s College in Briarcliff Manor, New York, on March 11 after a five-month battle with leukemia. Cook helped found Youth for Christ and later served as president of Youth for Christ International. During his life, he also served as president of the National Religious Broadcasters, vice-president of Scripture Press in Wheaton, Illinois, and president of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Killed: Five aviation students and an instructor from Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, Canada. While flying home from a visit to Mission Aviation Fellowship headquarters in Redlands, California, the five-plane Trinity group encountered bad weather on March 5, near Bellingham, Washington. Three planes landed safely; two crashed with no survivors. Killed were students Teena Daly, Terry Townsend, Jeff Helzer, Danny Penner, Al Karim Merali, and instructor Graeme Seath.

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