Speechless: Silencing the Christians
|Speechless: Silencing the Christians|
|Presented by||Janet Parshall|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||14 (13 + 1 special)|
|Running time||30 minutes (series)|
60 minutes (special)
|Production company(s)||American Family Association|
|Original network||The Inspiration Network (series)|
syndication via paid programming (special)
Speechless: Silencing the Christians (also known as Silencing Christians) is a 2008 documentary series produced by the American Family Association (AFA) and hosted by commentator Janet Parshall; the 13-episode series was first televised by the Inspiration Network. The documentary series describes the AFA's opposition to what it claims to be "political correctness", and claims that various factors, such as separation of church and state, hate crime laws, the Fairness Doctrine, and the "gay agenda", are threatening the existence of Christianity. The DVD release added a 14th episode. The series was also broadcast as a one-hour special in 2009, causing controversy at a Tampa, Florida television station.
- Series Premiere
- Is This Thing On? -- The episode discusses the "separation of church and state" and points out that the precise phrase does not appear in the United States Constitution. It claims that separation of church and state is used to prevent Christians from expressing their beliefs. Ann Coulter describes what she refers to as the "intolerance" of the left.
- Grandmas Behind Bars -- Hate crimes legislation and its potential impact on Christians is discussed. Tristan Emmanuel talks about Christians involved in various hate crime cases in Canada. The arrest of eleven Christian protesters ("Philly 11") at the 2004 OutFest Philadelphia street festival is recounted.
- Olivia's Song -- A young girl is told she could not sing "Our God is an Awesome God" at her after-school talent show. The city of Philadelphia declines to renew the lease of the building used by the Boy Scouts of America over their policy requiring heterosexual scout leaders. Dr. Gary Cass describes incidents of discrimination against Christians.
- Vows on the Boardwalk? -- This episode examines the Ocean Grove, New Jersey "Boardwalk Pavilion case", where two lesbians file a complaint against a Methodist association, which refused on religious grounds to allow a same-sex civil union ceremony to be held in a structure which the plaintiffs claimed was public property.
- Lone Star Justice -- This episode focuses on the School Children's Religious Liberties Act and the separation of church and state, in the case of elementary school students in Texas "banned" from mentioning Jesus or God during Christmas and Easter.
- The Fairness Doctrine
- Isabella -- Lisa Miller, a former lesbian, attempts to retain custody of her six-year-old daughter, Isabella, from her former partner after their civil union ended.
- Christians Need Not Apply - Part 1
- Christians Need Not Apply - Part 2 -- This episode discusses the case of Crystal Dixon, an African American former executive at the University of Toledo, whose employment was terminated when she wrote a letter rejecting comparisons between the civil rights movement and the "gay" homosexual rights movement. She sued, claiming unlawful termination; her attorney at the Thomas More Law Center is interviewed.
- The Ivory Tower
- The Hallowed Halls of Tolerance
- Whispering Christians -- Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) discusses Why We Whisper: Restoring Our Right to Say it's Wrong, a book he co-written that attempts to explore "liberal biases" in society.
- Defending the Faithful -- This episode takes a look at organizations fighting what they describe as "anti-Christian discrimination", such as Alliance Defense Fund, Liberty Legal Institute, Pacific Justice Institute, Liberty Counsel and the Rutherford Institute.
In 2009, the AFA released a one-hour special version of the program, which deals with their stance against what they call the "homosexual agenda", including interviews with ex-gay people. This special was produced mainly for commercial television stations (especially network affiliates), under the purview of paid programming time, where the AFA purchases the airtime from the station in the same way as a regular infomercial broker would do. The special also served as a tie-in to Donald Wildmon's book of the same name, which was released in early 2009.
In the Tampa Bay television market, NBC affiliate WFLA-TV aired the special on June 27, 2009, on the same day that the annual St. Petersburg pride parade was held, on the weekend of the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Prior to the telecast, the station was swamped with numerous phone calls and e-mails against the station showing the program. After the program ended, the station logged hundreds of phone calls and over 1000 e-mails, all in protest against the show. General Manager Mike Pumo refused to elaborate on the decision, other than saying that the show's content did not "raise the red flag" during pre-screening. Stratton Pollitzer, deputy director of homosexual rights organization Equality Florida, considered the show hate speech, saying, "I think this program is a piece of homophobic propaganda and it has no place on a major network like NBC." NBC is merely the station's affiliated network; from 1966 to 2017, it had been owned by Media General, the same company that owned it at the time of the Stonewall riots; it was announced on January 27, 2016, that Nexstar Broadcasting Group would acquire WFLA as part of its Media General purchase, which led to it and MyNetworkTV affiliate WTTA being part of the newly-minted Nexstar Media Group on January 17, 2017. Brian Winfield, Equality Florida's director of communications, said the special "paints the entire gay community as being anti-Christian and that's just not true. On a day when tens of thousands of Tampa residents and their friends gathered together to celebrate diversity and pride, WFLA chose to profit from screening a show that was dehumanizing to gay people."
On July 15, 2009, reports ranging from about 70 to almost 100 protesters gathered outside of WFLA's studios to protest the airing of the special; the protesters carried red flags (in a reference to General Manager Pumo's remark), as well as signs that parodied the station's moniker, reading "News Channel H8" ("News Channel Hate"). John Schueler, a Media General executive responsible for WFLA, wrote in a prepared statement: "Our overriding mission is to provide platforms for the broadest points of view and be responsible to the community we serve. We understand that doing so can cause strong disagreement. We screened this program and ran a disclaimer before and after it ran noting that this does not reflect the views of WFLA."  City of Tampa councilman John Dingfelder asked WFLA to apologize for carrying the program, saying that "This community wouldn't accept a racist infomercial, it wouldn't accept an anti-Semitic infomercial and we shouldn't accept a homophobic infomercial."
- Anti-Christian sentiment
- Christianity and homosexuality
- Save Our Children
- Homosexual agenda
- Coghlan, Kelly (2007). "Steps Citizens And Students Can Take". The Coghlan Law Firm. Houston, Texas. Retrieved 2017-02-16.
- amazon.com: "Speechless: Silencing the Christians: How Liberals and Homosexual Activists are Outlawing Christianity (and Judaism) to Force Their Sexual Agenda on America (Hardcover)"
- AFA store: "Speechless: Silencing the Christians"
- Tampa Tribune: "'Silencing Christians' paid program draws protest calls, e-mails", 6/27/2009.
- "Nexstar-Media General: It's A Done Deal". TVNewsCheck. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
- "Nexstar Clinches Deal to Acquire Media General". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
- St. Petersburg Times: "WFLA should have seen the red flags over antigay program", 6/30/2009.
- St. Petersburg Times: "Demonstrators protest anti-gay-rights program aired by WFLA-Ch. 8", 7/16/2009.
- Tampa Tribune: "Gay-/rights groups protest outside News Channel 8", 7/16/2009.
- WTSP: "Councilman wants WFLA to apologize for 'homophobic' program", 7/16/2009.