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Tide of advertisers turn off ABC/Disney’s ‘Nothing Sacred’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–While the tenor of the controversial ABC/Disney show “Nothing Sacred” hasn’t softened much in the first three weeks of the TV season, its advertising lineup has changed week to week under heavy pressure from groups dissatisfied with its slant on the Catholic priesthood.
The Disney-owned ABC-TV network premiered the show set in an inner- city parish to a chorus of jeers led by the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and echoed by a broad group of evangelicals. The Catholic League, the nation’s largest Catholic civil rights organization, defends Catholics from defamation and discrimination.
To date, 13 national advertisers have pulled their sponsorship from the show, under heat from the religious coalition, which has criticized it as “appalling” and “a political statement against the Catholic Church.”
Nothing Sacred has been praised by television critics, however, as “the best new show” on television.
Even so, the show does not appear to be winning any popularity contests with the viewing public at large: The premiere settled in at 54th place in the weekly ratings and the second episode fell to 92nd place. Ratings for the Oct. 2 show were not available at press time.
ABC spokesperson Anne Riccetelli said the network nevertheless “has no plans to move or cancel” the show, according to the Sept. 30 USA Today.
“The goal (of the show) is to put a positive spin on Catholic priests who prefer Hollywood’s libertine vision of sexuality to the moral teachings of the church,” said William Donohue, Catholic League president. The Catholic League first called for economic action against The Disney Company in 1995, urging a boycott of the entertainment giant’s holdings after the release of the Disney-owned Miramax movie, “Priest.”
Scott’s Liquid Gold of Denver, manufacturer of Alpha Hydrox skin care treatment, Touch of Scent air freshener and Liquid Gold wood cleaner, became the 13th company to drop sponsorship of the Thursday prime-time show in an announcement Oct. 2.
The first 12 corporations to turn from the show were Isuzu, Weight Watchers, K-Mart, Benckiser, DuPont, Red Lobster, Ocean Spray, Sears, AT&T, Glaxo Wellcome, Ponderosa and Dunkin’ Donuts. Indicative of the show’s negative portrayal of the priesthood in the Oct. 2 episode, the leading character’s search for an important letter reportedly left for him by a faithful parishioner who died is solved only at the end of the episode when the priest finally opens his Bible — days after the woman had died and after he had already conducted the funeral service.
The same show features the priest joining with the deceased’s daughters alongside their mother’s casket, joking about the “fantastic sex” that kept their parents together. In another scene, the church’s maintenance man, in referring to the noise coming out of offices adjacent to the sanctuary, says it is probably “an orgy in the staff room.”
“Nothing Sacred is yet another egregious example of Disney’s Christian-bashing agenda,” insisted Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “Its chief protagonist is a priest who questions the existence of God and challenges every sexual teaching of Catholicism.”
This program “breaks new ground for its irreverence and for the way it depicts Christians,” said Focus on the Family’s James Dobson on his Oct. 1 national broadcast, calling the show “another insulting attack on Christianity.”
“Every Christian should be incensed at the caricature and mockery of fellow Christians on this appalling show,” Land added.
Information on the sponsors of the Oct. 2 episode of Nothing Sacred is available from the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission in Nashville, Tenn., at (615) 244-2495.

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  • Dwayne Hastings