Christian conservatives claim new NBC kids' show Veggie Tales got raw deal

NBC edits sectarian religious references from cartoon series

by, October 3, 2006

NBC drew protests recently from religious conservatives over edits the network made to a Saturday morning cartoon that exclude references to God.

The dispute began when Phil Vischer, the creator of VeggieTales, the popular kids' videos now airing as part of NBC's Saturday-morning kids programming block, said that the cuts he was asked to make by NBC on the show were to take out references to God and the Bible.

Initially, NBC said the edits were made to cut fit their time slot. It was several days after Vischer's comments sparked a controversy that NBC finally conceded that the references to God had been deliberately edited out.

On his website, Phil Vischer says that as the person who cut the episodes, he sent the first one to NBC at "exactly" the right length, but "they rejected it because, at the end, Bob the Tomato said, 'Remember kids, God made you special and he loves you very much.' They demanded we remove that line. The show wasn't too long, it was too Christian."

Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber always had a moral message in their long-running "VeggieTales" video series. "VeggieTales" is a collection of animated home videos for children that encourage moral behavior based on Christian and biblical principles. More than 50 million copies have been sold since 1993, according to Big Idea Inc., which produces the series.

But now that the vegetable stars have hit network television, they can't speak as freely as they once did, and that's got the Parents Television Council steamed. The conservative media watchdog group issued a statement blasting NBC for editing out references to God from the children's animated show. "What struck me and continues to strike me is the inanity of ripping the heart and soul out of a successful product and not thinking that there will be consequences to it," said L. Brent Bozell, the organization's president..

NBC spokeswoman Rebecca Marks says the show was edited to comply with the network's standards. "Our goal is to reach as broad an audience as possible with these positive messages while being careful not to advocate any one religious point of view," she said.

TOPIC: Church-State Separation