The All New Muppet Show, One Million Moms, and Franklin Graham

Choosing discussion over battle is a good thing. Let's do better...

Thursday I began seeing Facebook friends post comments attributed to Franklin Graham about the all-new prime time Muppets Show on ABC. I was surprised….that there was a new Muppet Show not that frontline Christian culture warriors like Franklin Graham and the American Family Association might be against such a show.

I try my best not to react to Facebook posts or articles. I try, rather, to respond after I have all of the facts. From time to time I fail. People notice, challenge me, assert that I am no longer a follower of Jesus Christ, and call me to repentance. I don’t mind being challenged. I need to be challenged and respectfully called out when I make a mistake like overreacting to something or someone. I am a public figure and I should take that responsibility very seriously. I also must repent publicly when I have made a mistake publicly.

I do repent about my hasty decision to call out Franklin Graham for his comments about The Muppet Show before I actually watched the debut. Repent, translated from the Greek word Metanoia, means to change your mind. It didn’t take me very long to change my mind about the rashness of my post. I was wrong to criticize anyone without knowing the full story. I am sorry for doing so.

Yesterday morning I signed into my Hulu account and watched all 21 minutes of The Muppets, which according to the American Family Association’s One Million Moms is “perverted”. Franklin Graham said this:

Tonight ABC is premiering a new “mature version” of the Muppets that reports say will cover a range of topics from sex to drugs to “interspecies relationships” with no subject being off limits. It sounds to me like the whole show should be off limits! Hollywood seems to be in a frenzy to see what new moral low they can reach in their programming. Their agenda is to promote sin to a younger and younger audience. I applaud the group One Million Moms for speaking out against this and urging parents to call on ABC to take it off the air. The Bible says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.” That goes for Kermit the Frog as well!

I was prepared to eat my words. I was hoping, however, to be pleasantly surprised by The Muppets and to be able to introduce the new show to my kids. I won’t be doing either.

Starting with the latter, I found the show boring and the humor stupid rather than clever. I know my kids and they wouldn’t like the show. I’m glad because I didn’t like it and in order for them to watch, knowing there are adult-themed topics, I would have to watch it with them. I’d rather watch something truly mindless with them or something about which we can have an intelligent conversation.

With regard to the accusation that the show is a Hollywood plot to promote sin, I understand why parents who grew up on the show might not let their young children watch this new version. There are adult themes my two 10-year olds wouldn’t get or understand and ones I am not ready for them to get yet, but hasn’t that always been an issue in the world in which we live? Don’t we all shelter our kids from certain realities until we are either ready for the long conversation or until we believe they can make sense of it all? But, I didn’t find it any more perverse than Family Feud.

I am grateful for movie reviews, some watch groups, and others who share information about all sorts of things in an effort to keep kids safe. I think we should err on the side of caution in a number of areas. Leslie and I don’t consider it a burden when the parent of one of our kids’ friends calls prior to a play date or sleep over and asks us how we handle TV, video games, and junk food. But I also think, especially as Christians, we should be far more gracious to others and less sensitive to the things going on in the world around us, with which we might have objection.

If you don’t want your kids to watch certain shows, or TV in general, or listen to certain types of music, or eat junk food then, by all means, impose the restriction. But know this, your friends and neighbors, and very likely the person seated next to you in the pew on Sunday morning, isn’t necessarily going to agree with you or appreciate when you call their favorite show, band, or food evil. Doing so might insight hostility rather than encourage a discussion.

And, in my opinion, I’ll choose the discussion over the battle every time. My uninformed overreaction to Franklin Graham isn’t cause to question whether I follow Jesus Christ. Franklin Graham’s fear-based overreaction, in my opinion, to The Muppets doesn’t justify my screaming (because it was in all caps), “Dear Franklin Graham: PLEASE. RETIRE.”, on Facebook.

We can all do better. I’m game. You?

I value your honesty and critical review. Please refrain from attacking others.

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26 thoughts on “The All New Muppet Show, One Million Moms, and Franklin Graham

  1. I totally agree with you, Alan. I, too am a Christian and I have never doubted your sincerity. In fact, your honesty is and always has been refreshing. Judgment begins with the house of God – as it should… We are Christ’s representatives on this earth – so many forget that. Our son is living gay and because of the harshness represented in Christianity today, he refuses to ever walk back into a church. He once walked with God – please pray for his return to a life of trusting God once again. We believe God loves him and has always loved him in spite of his rebellion. It is a sad thing to see people who claim themselves to be “Christ – like” to be so harsh in their witness. We pray God will open the hearts of those Christian believers and give them the tools necessary to offer love and grace to whomever they come in contact with. We appreciate your ministry – we appreciate your commitment to Christ and we appreciate your honesty.

  2. I agree with you about Franklin Graham and that a lot of stuff he talks about is from a fear based position. Are we not children of God with all the promises about protection? And really, if we get to the heart of the matter, is not the reason that our country is in moral decline due in to the church, the religious wing of the church? The Bible teaches that in the New Testament, it is about grace, what Jesus has done on the cross. And why would you expect those who have not come to Jesus to be “Godly”. It is because of the church that people don’t see the supernatural power of God. And it is our fault that abortion is acceptable. If we as a church did as Jesus commanded, to love our neighbors, look past their sins because Jesus has looked past our sins, because he died for them, and actually be there to help those in crisis, we would have a different society. Yes, we have crisis pregnancy centers. But those are not in the actual churches. It should be that anyone in need could know they could contact a church, and be overwhelmed with help. We would never have empty churches, or empty offering plates for that matter.

    And I did start watching the show and found it so boring. I had my DVR set to tape every episode. After 5 minutes, I stopped recording the show, and deleted the DVR setting to record future episodes. And while it was not cute seeing how they talked about adult topics, it was the fact that it was tasteless and negative. I just don’t see Jim Henson approving of this type of show. The muppets and sesame street always had a positive spin on things even when circumstances didn’t look so good. Hmmm, isn’t that how we as Christians are supposed to be.

    So, if the church would repent (from fear and not trusting God), and turn from their pride (self-righteousness), and seek Him for how they should live life in their communities, then God would hear from heaven and heal their nation!

  3. Lol… Y’know, maybe this was worth the ‘little outrage’.
    It’s funny, how we view Grace and the world around us will ultimately show us where *we* live.
    I would much rather have a disscusion than a battle. But people are people and can become defensive when something they view as a (or their only) path to their happiness is being threatened.
    As Christians, I don’t believe we are tasked with ‘removing’ temptations or to control other’s access to sin, but are to encourage others to give those up of their own accord for their own benefit and the benefit of those that they love.
    The simple reality is that I don’t have to live with the sins of others. They do. I know it sounds a little mercenary, but it is the truth. If I acctually care about *them*, maybe It’d behoove me to tell them they could be living better.
    As to the “new” Muppets, There’s already one “Modern Family” on the schedule, and I don’t even watch that. There are few shows I do watch. For the most part I’m starting to understand a ‘movement’ from the Sixties:
    “Kill your T.V.”

  4. Alan it is wrong, sinful, abnormal, whatever word for two men to be in a homosexual relationship. Sex, no sex, semi sex, it is wrong.

  5. Yes I did read the story, Alan, but since everything you say is a deflection away from the truth of what I outlined, it was more than appropriate.

  6. One other comment, Alan, you truly have picked the worst time in history to flirt with apostasy. You cannot but think and know that Jesus is about getting ready to split the clouds on his return to earth.

  7. I am terribly disappointed in your decision to condone homosexual marriages. I am going to pray you will have blinding truth overcome you just as Saul was overcame on the road to Damascus. The power of addiction and demonic bondage is so strong in our culture. “Some only come out through prayer and fasting.” Prayers go up for you and all of the people you will influence. May the Lord Be merciful to those who lead others astray with false teaching. Please seek the Holy Spirit concerning your outspoken influence. God bless you and your family.

    • Paul, did you read the whole post? Your comment doesn’t make sense in light of my post. Looks like you read the last line and nothing else. Hope all is well with you.

  8. Loved your post Alan. And it reminded me of a quote from John Wesley written around 1740s which echoes the very sentiment. Basically that we need to show caution in how we speak to others with whom we disagree. We need never call someone by some hurtful name in order to make our point, but must learn to love, and love all the more. So I share from John…. 🙂
    “Are you persuaded you see more clearly than me? It is not unlikely that you may. Then treat me as you would desire to be treated yourself upon a change of circumstances. Point me out a better way than I have yet known. Show me it is so, by plain proof of Scripture. And if I linger in the path I have been accustomed to tread, and am therefore unwilling to leave it, labour with me a little; take me by the hand, and lead me as I am able to bear. But be not displeased if I entreat you not to beat me down in order to quicken my pace: I can go but feebly and slowly at best; then, I should not be able to go at all. May I not request of you, further, not to give me hard names in order to bring me into the right way. Suppose I were ever so much in the wrong, I doubt this would not set me right. Rather, it would make me run so much the farther from you, and so get more and more out of the way.
    10. Nay, perhaps, if you are angry, so shall I be too; and then there will be small hopes of finding the truth. If once anger arise, Eute kapnos, (as Homer somewhere expresses it,) this smoke will so dim the eyes of my soul, that I shall be able to see nothing clearly. For God’s sake, if it be possible to avoid it, let us not provoke one another to wrath. Let us not kindle in each other this fire of hell; much less blow it up into a flame. If we could discern truth by that dreadful light, would it not be loss, rather than gain? For, how far is love, even with many wrong opinions, to be preferred before truth itself without love! We may die without the knowledge of many truths, and yet be carried into Abraham’s bosom. But, if we die without love, what will knowledge avail? Just as much as it avails the devil and his angels!
    The God of love forbid we should ever make the trial! May he prepare us for the knowledge of all truth, by filling our hearts with his love, and with all joy and peace in believing!” (Preface to John Wesley’s Collected sermons, first series)