SBC Life Articles

The DeGeneres Degeneration

"It's like the gay Super Bowl," said one participant in a lesbian "Coming Out" party. The much-hyped and anticipated episode of Ellen was the homosexual event of the year, and the media joined in the celebration. The episode was carried by 224 of the 225 stations that normally feature the show.

The Human Rights Campaign, a homosexual activist group, offered a "Come Out With Ellen" party kit complete with invitations, posters, and a trivia game. According to the group, over 1,300 requests had come from party hosts in the United States and other nations, including Finland and Japan. This was to be an international experience.

The event was one of the most cynically manipulated events in the history of television. The prime-time revelation of "Ellen Morgan" as a lesbian came after weeks of media frenzy and adulation — and after actress Ellen DeGeneres proclaimed her own lesbianism. The whole event was calculated and marketed, with extensive audience testing and a full-scale public relations assault.

ABC followed the episode with a special segment of PrimeTime Live devoted to the cause. Ellen DeGeneres' parents kindly shared how they had come to overcome their resistance to homosexuality and join the march. Ellen's mother even advocated same-sex marriage. As for herself, Ellen said she would like to have children. Not the old-fashioned way, of course.

Even some liberals saw through the hype. Frank Rich of The New York Times declared, "Only in America — Disney's America, at any rate — can the act of a TV sitcom heroine declaring her lesbianism be turned into a media epic that plays out over seven months, generating a striptease of publicity that in a simpler age would be beyond the imagination of even P. T. Barnum, if not Gypsy Rose Lee herself."

The episode was artful in its manipulation of emotion and expectation. There was no mystery to unfold; the only question was how and how often Ellen would declare her new homosexual identity.

The revelation of the character's homosexuality followed DeGeneres' scripted "coming out" on national television and in a TIME magazine cover story. As America's "first openly gay star," DeGeneres has become the poster child for lesbianism in America — a mediocre actress as lesbian superstar. ABC Entertainment president Jamie Tarses, trying to rescue Ellen from low ratings, said, "We're very proud. We think Ellen and the show's staff have executed it beautifully."

The show must be seen for what it was, an hour long sympathy cry designed to manipulate America's sentimentalism and emotion. The writers and producers knew exactly what they were doing, and they employed a battalion of market researchers and analysts to ensure maximum impact. ABC executive Tarses was disingenuous when she lamented, "obviously this is an experiment. We're not sociologists. We don't know how this is going to be received." Don't fall for that blather — ABC would not run this "brave" program until it knew full well how it would be received.

In their "morning after" editorial, the sages of The New York Times reflected on the "rich and memorable" episode and on its star: "Artistically and personally, it took courage to do what she did." Courage? All this talk about bravery and courage is nothing less than liberal back-slapping. It doesn't take courage to come "out of the closet" in 1990s America — all it takes is a good public relations plan. It would take courage for ABC to bring out a prime-time series with a heroine who is a believing Christian, married and faithful to her husband, devoted and loving to her children, who contends for the Judeo-Christian ethic revealed in Holy Scripture. Don't hold your breath.

In the late 1980s activists Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen produced a public relations manual for the homosexual movement. In After the Ball: How America Will Conquer its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90s, the authors called for homosexuals to put behaviors offensive to the public back in the closet and to put forth a new mainstream face on homosexuality in America. Their manifesto included a proposed social code of homosexual etiquette ("If I'm a Pederast or a Sadomasochist, I'll keep it under wraps and out of Gay Pride marches.") and a call for a strategy for using the media.

Television was an obvious target. As the authors instruct, "television is the most cogent medium, combining sight, sound, and motion to make new pictures so vivid that they can replace the old." That is precisely the hope behind the episode of Ellen. The homosexual community wants the warm, sanitized, and carefully scripted portrayal of lesbianism seen on Ellen to replace the old picture of homosexuality which formerly shaped the American consciousness. The withering legacy of biblical ethics based on "Thus saith the Lord" is now replaced by the emotivist radicalism of the moral revolutionaries — "Just look at Ellen."

Neil Postman, one of television's most insightful critics, described TV as "the way ideas get distributed through the culture." As he remarked, "Since television is the command center of American public life, television gives legitimacy to ideas."

Explaining "How the Gay-Rights Movement Won," Norman Podhoretz traces the "astonishing" success of homosexual activism. "For not so long ago," he reflects, "and even within the most advanced sectors of the culture, it was still taken pretty much for granted that homosexuality was, quite simply, a perversion."

The homosexual revolutionaries sought a great gain in legitimacy for their ideas through the Ellen crusade. ABC abused its public trust and became a sponsor of moral relativism and perversion, all masquerading as sentimental "tolerance." And America clapped and cried.

A nation earns and deserves what it applauds. The Ellen event is a significant milepost on our national highway toward moral dissolution. A culture that celebrates the overturning of its own moral foundations is a culture set on social suicide. The applause track on the Ellen episode was the theme music of cultural collapse. America clapped as the nation's conscience burned.

As the episode was filmed, Ellen DeGeneres wrote on her script, "Can you believe what a big deal this is? Maybe one day, it won't be." If she gets her way, it won't.

Former Homosexual Advertisement on Ellen Show

In one American city — Beaumont, Texas — viewers of the ABC-TV/Walt Disney Company sitcom Ellen heard the other side of the story when the main character announced her homosexuality.

Two 30-second ads were produced by Calvary Baptist Church for ABC affiliate KBMT in Beaumont, featuring reflections by Michael Johnston, president of a Newport News, Va., Christian outreach to homosexuals, Kerusso Ministries.

In Calvary's first ad on the show, Johnston, a former homosexual who has AIDS, said: "There is a lie out there. It promises acceptance, but delivers loneliness. It promises freedom, but delivers spiritual and emotional bondage. It promises life, but delivers death. Homosexuality … it's full of broken promises. Hello, I'm Michael Johnston. I chose to believe those lies for years. Today, I've been set free. There is a key to freedom — His name is Jesus Christ."

In a May 7 interview with Family Issues Alert, Johnston said, "The bottom line is that when it's all over, [homosexuals] are still going to be confronted with an internal conflict that comes from knowing that their living is contrary to God.

"And Ellen and all the programming in the world is not going to help eliminate that."

He told FIA the one hour episode was packed with pro-homosexual propaganda, but "the struggle and conflict that [Ellen] went through, as it was portrayed, is very real."

Johnston says the program gave young people a particularly harmful message: "If you're going through this kind of struggle … give up and give in."

The second of Calvary's ads aired at the conclusion of the one-hour episode. "Ellen is witty and she's talented," Johnston acknowledged. "But the subject matter of tonight's episode is not a laughing matter. Looking back at the emotional and spiritual consequences of homosexuality in my own life … standing here tonight with AIDS, I find it difficult to relate to the humor. The celebration of depravity degrades the individual. But the greatest tragedy of all (is) that so many are willing to accept a counterfeit for real love … the love of God."

Both ads concluded with an announcer saying, "Something to think about. From the members of Calvary Baptist Church."

Calvary's pastor, John Powers, said the two ads were aimed at "hitting while the iron was hot." He said he discussed the ads in two different church meetings and, "To a person, they said, 'Go for it.'" Powers said the ads cost several thousand dollars to produce and air locally.

The church's stance was one of the most vocal among Southern Baptists and other evangelicals dismayed over ABC/Disney's decision to make TV history by featuring the first openly homosexual lead character on a network show.

Compiled from stories by Baptist Press and Family Issues Alert.



Denominational Dissonance over Homosexuality
by Tom Strode

Vice President Al Gore and House of Representatives Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, both members of Southern Baptist churches, are competing to gain support from homosexual activists, according to a recently published report.

Gore appears to be the front-runner for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 2000. Gephardt has given indications he is mounting a campaign to challenge the vice president.

Both have held recent meetings with homosexual activists, according to The Washington Times.

Gore has held a series of meetings with homosexual leaders in his office, The Times reported. The vice president asked an openly lesbian member of the California general assembly to provide him with a list of books to help acquaint him with homosexual issues, according to The Times.

"He has an open door where gays and lesbians can express their concerns and issues and the role the administration can take on them," Ginny Terzano, Gore's press secretary, told The Times. "It's part of our effort to reach out to them at the start of the second term. We don't look at this in a political context."

Gephardt was host for a fund-raiser for the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund March 31 in Los Angeles, The Times reported April 2. He is expected to repeat his role for the organization later this year at a Washington event, the paper reported.

"It's an important constituency group for us," Laura Nichols, Gephardt's communications director, told the paper. The minority leader hopes to gain the support of homosexuals in the effort to help Democrats regain a majority in the House in 1998, she told The Times.

Gore is a member of Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va. Gephardt has his membership at Third Baptist Church in St. Louis, which is dually aligned with the SBC and the American Baptist Churches, USA.



According to a recent USA Today/ CNN/Gallup poll, 46 percent of Americans (up from 37 percent two years ago) believe there are too many homosexual characters or plots on television. Fifty-nine percent also said homosexuality is morally wrong; 34 percent believe it is not.

As recorded in The Pastor's Weekly Briefing, May 2, 1997.

    About the Author

  • R. Albert Mohler Jr.