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FIRST-PERSON: Does Ted Turner merit free ride in comments deriding Christians?

McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–Ted Turner has never been one to hide his disdain for the followers of Jesus Christ. He was once quoted as stating that Christianity was for losers.

Recently the creator of Cable News Network found another opportunity to ridicule Christians. According to a report on Fox News, on Ash Wednesday Turner was attending a retirement party for news anchor Bernard Shaw. While mingling at the affair he encountered a number CNN staffers with smudges on their foreheads. Turner’s reaction was immediate and insensitive. “What are you, a bunch of Jesus freaks? You ought to be working for Fox”, he said.

As a Christian, Turner’s remarks neither surprise nor offend me. In fact, according to Jesus himself, his followers should expect negative comments. He declared, “Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you, on account of me.”

Considering the current state of persecution of Christians the world over, it is a little thing to be called a loser or a freak. As a believer I even applaud Ted Turner. Without even knowing it, he is affirming the words of the Bible.

My reaction as a citizen in a free country and an observer of culture is quite different. In America we enjoy freedom of speech. Anyone can declare just about anything — and these days they usually do — without fear of reprisal by the government. However, what someone speaks is not as telling as the public’s reaction to what is said.

That Ted Turner loathes Christianity and is proud of his position is not troubling. The bothersome reality is that when he makes offensive statements about the disciples of Christ, very few take him to task.

Whenever Jesus Christ and his followers are the subject of ridicule and derision, free speech advocates defend it as constitutional free speech. However, when someone asserts that homosexuality is an immoral choice, the “champions” of the First Amendment are quick to denounce them as hateful. They will go so far as to assert that those who say such things are guilty of inciting violence toward “sexual minorities.”

I have heard no one of secular significance so much as even challenge Turner for his verbal assault of Christians. And certainly no one has suggested that the plight of persecuted believers around the world has been made more perilous by the media mogul’s loose-lipped comments.

Turner has given billions of dollars to humanitarian causes around the globe. His voice is influential. Why, then, at a time when Christians around the world are facing intense persecution, are his comments not denounced as irresponsible?

The obvious double standard should be alarming. Negative and insensitive statements against the followers of Jesus are accepted and even defended. However, Christians wanting to voice their moral position are vilified and attacked.

In America, Ted Turner has every right to voice his opinion about anything, even Christianity. However, so do Christians. Freedom of speech cannot be considered truly free unless it applies equally to all people — in theory and in practice.

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  • Kelly Boggs