What Ought a State Lawmaker Do About Publicly Financed Blasphemy?
(By Dave Leach)
I am a candidate for State Representative. If elected, what would I do about the situation described in the article below, where UNI students "on their own" produced a blasphemous sodomite play, calling Jesus "King of the Queers", in a play called "Corpus Christi" (which means "Body of Christ", the phrase used by all Christians to mean "The Church", or the body of all true believers, and by Catholics to refer also to the bread of the Eucharist)?
The op-ed article below points out the hypocrisy of a professor approving this blasphemy against Christianity, but answering what he would do about a play blaspheming Islam, "I would have to read the script."
The intellectual hypocrisy that strikes me more is how acceptable UNI authorities found this, compared with what they would have done had the students "on their own" petitioned to produce a Christmas play honoring Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of mankind, ending with a solicitation to turn your heart over to Him as strong as their solicitiation to give your life over to a life of sodomy!
Try to imagine UNI-trained theatre students with the courage to even suggest that! And why not? Because none of them are Christians? No, because of the perspective of what constitutes "art" perpetrated by the tax-supported professors. And if the students mustered the spunk to request it, imagine the outrage of university authorities at using a university auditorium, and university advertising mediums, at proclaiming Christ with taxpayer funds!
This comparison helps illustrate that whether or not to censor is not the issue. The Gospel is censored by habit. The issue is whether taxpayers have a legal and moral and constitutional right to express themselves as freely as a group of weak-willed, intimidated, misled students. I say they do.
So here is my tentative proposal. Tentative, not in the sense of hesitancy over whether to do anything so decisive, but in the sense of openness to even more effective ideas that might follow input from citizens, and research into just exactly what happened and how the wicked decision was reached, and also some legal research about obscenity laws.
(1) Reduce funding for the UNI Theatre Department by one FTE (full time employee). Although this cannot directly punish those responsible, a successful drive to reduce funding would have a very chilling effect on any future blasphemy.
(2) Conduct research on whether existing public obscenity or pornography laws could have supported an injunction against this performance, and if not, whether it could be strengthened. (This is not something that could be done in the legislature, but would have to be conducted by concerned citizens, if there are any, and I hope there are.)
(3) Create a new standard, applying to all publicly funded Fine Arts in Iowa's public schools as well as publicly funded universities, which would require "fine arts productions with any likelihood of causing public offense" to be reviewed by school boards (in the case of public schools), the Board of Regents (in the case of universities), and a relevant Legislative committee (such as Education or Appropriations). Either of these groups would have authority to stop the production, and to fire (or punish with lesser sanctions) a public employee who in their judgment failed to report a production which in fact produced considerable public offense.
I realize a single concerned legislator cannot implement these changes. However, I think some version of these ideas might attract several votes. Even a few outraged legislators can grieve the lobbyists crying for more university money, and a grieved lobbyist has considerable influence over university idiots.
However, the foundation for success is concerned citizens working together, doing research to determine what ideas will work and have the most support, and keeping legislators informed. Without such a group, no legislator has any serious hope of pushing such ideas through all the steps and deadlines. With such a group, many legislators will step forward to help.
As I post this position on my website, I am forwarding copies to the State Representative and the UNI professor named in the article, with this request: Please respond with any corrections or perspectives that might help me arrive at a clearer, more helpful vision for the people of Iowa. (I'm also forwarding a copy to the Des Moines Register.)
I've been trying to decide whether the professor's quoted perspective deserves comment. He supposedly said "If you read the script closely, the main message is love, understanding, compassion and, that if people seek forgiveness, they'll get it. That's not a bad thing, is it?" My criteria is that if anybody is likely to actually believe Taft's statement, including Taft himself, then perhaps it deserves comment. If it is more likely that neither Taft nor anybody else believes it, but is only a calculated statement designed to confuse the average citizen, while throwing Christians a pitch most will not swing at, then it less merits a response.
I guess I will respond because the logic intrigues me. I haven't read the script, but if any Bible believer will send it to me with their own analysis showing it does not attack Christianity, I probably will. But just taking the prof's statement at face value, if "the main message is love", then whether that is "a bad thing" depends on who's defining "love". "I believe in love", sang the Beatles: they meant "unrestrained, promiscuous, adulterous, disease-spreading, heart-breaking sex". Hitler thought he was doing the world a favor by genetically engineering a "Master Race", as if what makes people better is physical rather than spiritual. Napoleon thought he would favor Europe by spreading culture. French culture, that is, as if any other culture were no culture at all. Love, as defined by such perverts, is "a bad thing".
By contrast, one of God's many descriptions of Love is 1 John 5:3 "to love God is to keep His commandments. And we know they are not burdensome." Do you think "the main message (of the script) is love" by THIS definition? Ask yourself the same questions about the other redefined words Taft uses. "If people seek forgiveness, they'll get it"? Do you think it matters (1) from whence people seek forgiveness? Or (2) if that offense, for which people seek forgiveness, is an offense they have any intention of doing anything about?
DES MOINES REGISTER, January 6, 2002
Box 957, Des Moines, Ia., 50304
(Fax 515-286-2511 ) (E-MAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org )
Carlson: Play calling Jesus 'king of queers' puts UNI in the spotlight
By JOHN CARLSON, Register Columnist
The people who run the University of Northern Iowa must have known
what was coming.
After all, when students put on a play that portrays Jesus Christ and
his disciples as homosexuals - just a few days before Christmas - there's
going to be a serious public relations problem.
That makes UNI's decision permitting the production of "Corpus
Christi" either an act of courage or a really dumb move.
"It's blasphemous, it's disgusting and it's shameful this took place
at a publicly funded Iowa university," says State Rep. Dwayne Alons, a
Republican from Hull.
That's fairly representative of how some people feel about the
presentation of "Corpus Christi," a play that brought death threats to
author Terrence McNally when it opened in London.
There's nothing like that in Cedar Falls, thank goodness. Just wrath
from the faithful, who don't much like Jesus being referred to as the "king
of queers" on a stage they paid for with their tax dollars.
The message is beginning to get through to people who cash state
Steve Taft, head of UNI's theater department, wants Iowans to know
the play was produced by members of the UNI Student Theater Association.
That, he said, is a self-supported student group. Meaning there is no
public funding of any kind.
"There were no academic ties to the production," Taft said. "Nobody
was required to go. It wasn't part of a class. It was done entirely by the
students, on their own time."
But it was presented in a publicly owned and supported 100-seat
auditorium-style classroom on the UNI campus. And that's the problem.
Put this thing on a stage downtown or on a private college campus and
people merely cringe.
Put it in a building paid for by taxpayers, and legislators start
talking about looking a little closer at university appropriations.
"I'll admit the timing wasn't the greatest, that close to Christmas,"
But he does defend the play's message, which he said critics are
"If you read the script closely, the main message is love,
understanding, compassion and, that if people seek forgiveness, they'll get
it," Taft said. "That's not a bad thing, is it?"
The people who put this on are good kids and they don't mean to bash
Christians or anybody else, he said, and they have a right, both
intellectually and legally, to produce this play.
"They produced a work they can be proud of. It's been an educational
experience for them."
What about Alons' demand that the university administration apologize
for allowing this to go on?
"Tell him to read the Constitution," said Taft.
Alons says the state deserves better from UNI than a play that refers
to the "the king of queers" and suggests Jesus has sex with disciples.
"The university administration could have prevented this," said
Alons, a Sioux County farmer who flew fighter jets in the Air Force and is
now vice commander of the Iowa Air National Guard.
"The people I've talked to felt that of all the regents institutions,
UNI always has been the place that best represented Iowa's values. Now
this. I believe the play is offensive to the vast majority of Iowans," he
Will this hurt UNI when the Iowa General Assembly starts looking at
how to spend what relatively little money is available?
"It can't help," said Alons.
Both sides make valid arguments.
University students are entitled to express themselves in this way,
and the UNI administration is within its rights to support them.
Many Christians are offended, and why wouldn't they be? To them, the
play's treatment of Christ's life and death is offensive.
Mostly, this proves it continues to be OK in polite society to slap
around Christians and their beliefs. So they should shut up, read the
Constitution and pay for the hall. Just like always.
Makes a person wonder whether UNI would sanction a play that
portrayed Muhammed in a way offensive to Muslims. Same question about
Buddha. Or Abraham.
"I'd have to read the play," Taft said after giving it some thought.
"Then we'd see."
Any doubt how that one would turn out?
Got feedback? Send it, along with
name or url of the article, and a little of the text on either side of where
your comment belongs, so I know what you are responding to, and I'll post
your response. I might even place it right smack dab in the article! (If
you don't want your email posted, SAY SO!)