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Panel of Notorious Homophobes Advised Mark Burnett on The History Channel's 'Bible' Mini-Series


While the Obama-esque image of Satan from Mark Burnett's History Channel mini-series The Bible is making headlines this morning, it's worth noting that the religious consultants on the project, at least the ones named in a TV Guide article on it, are a "Who's Who" of notorious evangelical homophobes:

Burnett and Downey approached History and struck a deal, which included a sizable CGI budget to bring state-of-the-art realism to the Great Flood, the parting of the Red Sea, God's destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and other Bible ­stories. The duo then formed an ­advisory board with some of America's top spiritual leaders.

"We weren't qualified to teach the Bible, but we knew plenty of people who were," says Burnett, whose interfaith panel included pastors Joel Osteen, Rick Warren and T.D. Jakes, Bishop Michael Sheridan, Focus on the Family president Jim Daly and Rev. Samuel Rodriguez.

These advisers were also supposed to appear on screen, since the original plan was to make The Bible a docudrama — reenactments peppered with lots of talking heads. But things went so well during the nearly six-month shoot in Morocco that the miniseries took a different course.

That's Osteen, who said "I don't believe homosexuality is God's best for a person's life" and called it "sin" many times, Prop 8 supporter Rick Warren who compared homosexuality to poison and compared acting on gay urges to assaulting someone, TD Jakes who has called homosexuality a "brokenness" despite his son getting arrested in a sex sting, Bishop Michael Sheridan who has called homosexuality "intrinsically evil" and told Catholics who vote for gay marriage that they can't receive communion, and Samuel Rodriguez, who teamed up with NY state senator Ruben Diaz to rally opponents of same-sex marriage, and Jim Daly, the head of virulently anti-gay Focus on the Family.

A reader to Towleroad writes:

It's worth noting that not only does every member of that panel have a distinctly anti-gay history, but that the panel is entirely conservative. Mark Burnett has made quite a bit of cash on the backs of gay contestants on his various shows, so I'm curious why any progressive or GLBT voices are suddenly lacking when he's looking for perspective this time around? It's 2013, and I thought the media was improving at least a little bit in thinking that the only religion that exists anywhere is right-wing religion, but apparently not in this case. And why--particularly- did Burnett seek out Focus on the Family for this, when FOF is not a church, last time I checked, but a thinly-veiled anti-gay organization?

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  1. Not a single progressive Christian voice on the panel of "experts"??? Sounds like an agenda to me....

    Posted by: Tom in SF Bay Area | Mar 18, 2013 2:33:19 PM

  2. I'm going to hope that this was just a calculated move on Burnett's part to use all these jerk offs as "advisors" so they would encourage their minions to watch. The inclusion of FOF in particular seems like a ploy to get eyeballs on the screen for ratings. And without the stamp of approval from the fundies who would buy all those lucrative DVDs that I'm sure Burnett gets a nice cut of. It's always about the $$$$$.

    Posted by: e.c. | Mar 18, 2013 2:36:01 PM

  3. I will tell you again, just one more time, stop speaking for me.
    Stop telling people what I think.
    Stop telling people what my "plan" is.
    Stop telling people that homosexuals whom I have made in my image are less than others.
    I made homosexuality, as a gift, a blessing .....don't disrespect my works, homosexuality is neither "poison" nor "brokenness" it is the way I have created for the expression of love.

    All of you extremists, and so called "born-agains", I spit from my mouth (recognise the image ?)
    because of your intolerance of the world I reaeted.
    Signed :

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Mar 18, 2013 2:38:20 PM

  4. this is the new conservative movement to produce propaganda and pass it off as truth in movies, docudrama, and documentaries..

    Stay tuned there will be more to fcome.....

    Posted by: Rev. Joseph Shore-Goss | Mar 18, 2013 2:38:45 PM

  5. Always follow the money. Clearly Burnett and Downey did.

    Posted by: tetei | Mar 18, 2013 2:48:34 PM

  6. I'm sure Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, and the other panelists are "experts" in the King James version of the Bible, right? Did any of them study Greek, Hebrew, or Latin so that they could translate the earlier texts? My guess is no. If there was a god, I don't know that I'd trust at face value that his word had been properly translated in the 1600s.

    Posted by: Ryan | Mar 18, 2013 2:49:08 PM

  7. "That's Osteen, who said "I don't believe homosexuality is God's best for a person's life"

    Jeezy Peets -- God Complex much? He challenges 'God's' creation? Who is he to determine what's best for someone? I know God made bigots, but He also gave them the ability to choose--they just chose bigotry.

    Posted by: woodroad34 | Mar 18, 2013 2:50:04 PM

  8. Its the Bible, a historical document. While I agree these evangelists spew hatred, their experience in scripture, assisting the book's translation to the small screen is probably invaluable. Unless Jesus, the disciples or any other religious historical figure portrayed in this mini-series veers off historical script and starts to preach anti-gay sermons, I think everyone should calm down.

    Now if we want to criticize the producers for not including other historians who have a more "gay-friendly" background in their personal life, thats a different story.

    You can't change scripture. It is what it is.

    Posted by: Frank | Mar 18, 2013 2:55:56 PM

  9. "CBS Sunday Morning", which is usually an excellent broadcast, ran a laudatory feature on Mark Burnett & the series this past weekend. They showed a clip of Obama/Satan, but not a word about controversy. In fact, the entire segment sounded more like a promo than a report.

    I watched the first two episodes on the History Channel. They were like a Sunday school lesson. All the myths & superstitions of Christian theology were presented as if they were historical fact.

    I'd love to see a one of the cable channels with the courage to present a series about the Bible that weighs scripture against scientific evidence.

    Posted by: JONNY NYNY2FLFL | Mar 18, 2013 3:06:49 PM

  10. Prov 28:20 The faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.

    There is a lot of the bible that they left out....

    Mark 10:21-27,31 Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him, and he said, "There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he (Mark Burnett) was a man of great wealth.

    Posted by: wonderer | Mar 18, 2013 3:07:06 PM

  11. "You can't change scripture. It is what it is."

    @Frank: The irony of that line actually made me laugh.
    This panel is unanimously made up of people who choose drastically-altered versions of translations of the Bible's various letters and books and call them "scripture."
    The most popular versions of "The Bible" in right-wing fundamentslist circles have altered the wording and attributed opinions and actions to characters that had never existed in any version (let alone the original transcripts) even when the older readers of this blog were first going to Sunday School.

    Posted by: GregV | Mar 18, 2013 3:16:24 PM

  12. I suppose if you are as hateful as these Christianists are, you would most likely think Obama is Satan.

    Posted by: Jack M | Mar 18, 2013 3:17:30 PM

  13. Just to clarify my statement above: I meant that some of the characters in "the Bible" have had opinions added and words twisted in ways that never before had appeared in any version -- not that the characters themselves had not existed in previous versions.

    Posted by: GregV | Mar 18, 2013 3:20:16 PM

  14. I've been watching this program and, aside from being cheesey, I don't see what the big deal is. If the homophobic consultants to its production wanted to insert their agenda, they had a perfect opportunity in the scene depicting the destruction of Sodom. While they probably teach that it is about homosexuality, better educated theologians say that it isn't at all. In The Bible program there was no indication that homosexuality was the reason for Sodom's destruction. As far as Satan looking like Obama, that never crossed my mind until I read this post on towleroad.

    Posted by: Sam | Mar 18, 2013 3:33:12 PM

  15. The Bible isn't a "historical document". It's bad fiction.

    Here is the best thing that came from that horrid series. It's the only review you need to see:

    Posted by: Steve | Mar 18, 2013 3:40:39 PM

  16. Please tell me someone other than me watched this all Sunday? Did anyone notice the two gentleman playing Pharaoh and Moses were the biggest over-actors in the history of entertainment? It is the funniest thing ever, I urge everyone to watch that section for the laughs alone! The guy playing Moses made Charlton Heston look subtle and nuanced!

    Posted by: cdubois | Mar 18, 2013 3:42:12 PM

  17. Well that explains why the story of "The Bible" left out Lot's daughters' rape of their father while he was asleep.

    That doesn't go well with their story.

    Frank: ("You can't change scripture. It is what it is.") You need to tell that to the Christians. It is certainly not a historical document. Many of the people and places in it certainly never existed. And there are innumerable versions of the Bible, and that's just in English. There is no one "Bible".

    Posted by: Randy | Mar 18, 2013 4:03:25 PM

  18. I was privy to some of the back dealings of this miniseries from Burnett's side. The whole point is to get the money from The Passion of the Christ audience. The deal with The History Channel is weighted heavily to Mark to keep earning profits off of the long-term selling of DVDs, VOD, etc. It's geared towards a "captive" audience with the idea that churchs will have private screenings, etc. His "advisers" command the largest Evangelical groups in the US -- it becomes a guaranteed market. That is why he mentions them specifically.

    Posted by: unruly | Mar 18, 2013 4:59:32 PM

  19. All I can say thank goodness that HBO exists and we have access to programming with REAL characters that exist in REALITY("Girls","Weeds")to name just two. Is it really any coincidence that the most ignorant and stupid people on the planet are "christians"?(including those from Africa). One just has to wonder if their lives are so f'n miserable that all they can do is wish for 'the afterlife' and in this life remain OBSESSED with gay men and where they stick their privates and who we love. Get a life already you Christian freaks!

    Posted by: SFshawn | Mar 18, 2013 5:17:33 PM

  20. As an academcially trained historian, I had given up on the History Channel a long time ago with its fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible, its wholesale acceptance of Nostradamus, and any conspiracy theory their producers could lay their grubby hands on. The notion of a History Channel is interested. Its current manifestation is a big heaping, stinking pile.

    Posted by: Jonathan Oz | Mar 18, 2013 5:57:56 PM

  21. And not A SINGLE ONE OF THEM is a historian OR a Bible scholar! They are preachers. That is a VERY different animal from "Bible scholar" which requires knowledge of numerous dead languages (among them, ancient Hebrew, ancient Greek, Aramaic and Latin) as well as anthropology and a number of other fields.

    It's pretty much akin to turning to a third grade history teacher as an adviser for a mini-series on the history of Mesopotamia.

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Mar 18, 2013 6:03:36 PM

  22. i didn't know that Jesus spoke British...

    Posted by: mike/ | Mar 18, 2013 6:23:06 PM

  23. @cdubois: Not too many years ago, I saw Heston playing Moses - in a theater that shows classic films regularly.

    During the intermission, I quipped that, after playing that part, no wonder Heston became a Republican. Everyone laughed. Republicans don't get many votes around here.

    Posted by: Bill | Mar 18, 2013 6:26:29 PM

  24. 'Its the Bible, a historical document."

    No more than Hansel and Gretel.

    Posted by: mike | Mar 18, 2013 6:55:39 PM

  25. Just curious if Downy will be in DC for noms hate march.

    Posted by: greenfuzz | Mar 18, 2013 7:46:46 PM

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