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A minute-long prayer invoking the name of Jesus Christ has cost a Christian conservative his job, according to longtime political activist Dennis Mansfield.
“The irony is the very man being prayed for fired me,” Mansfield told WorldNetDaily.
Parents Television Council, or PTC, hired Mansfield in September to serve as the organization’s executive director, but abruptly fired him after he invited a colleague and Episcopal minister to offer a prayer closing an awards ceremony and fund-raising event on Nov. 14.
“It was a normal, ordinary prayer,” Ted Baehr, chairman of the Christian Film and Television Commission and the man who delivered the prayer, told WND. “I was praying for Brent Bozell to be healed. He’d had a heart attack the Friday before. … Whenever I pray, I pray in the name of Jesus. … I would expect people of other faiths to pray in the name of the one they believe in,” he added.
Bozell is president of the California-based watchdog group whose primary mission is to clean up prime-time television by lobbying for positive, family-oriented programming. According to its website, “PTC seeks to discourage the increasingly graphic sexual themes and dialogue, depictions of gratuitous violence, and profane or obscene language that have crowded out family viewing options.”
Late last month, PTC petitioned CBS, asking the network to reconsider its decision to broadcast “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.”
“If this year’s broadcast is remotely similar to last year’s program (which aired on ABC), we can only assume that the ‘Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show’ will merely provide an opportunity to promote soft-core pornography during prime time. … Airing the fashion show will indeed convey to the public that, ‘CBS is
not your grandmother’s network.’ It will also tell viewers that you are willing to scrape the bottom of the barrel for a shot at the young male demographic and that CBS is more concerned with profit than in
serving America’s families,” the PTC letter stated. Other groups signed the letter, including NOW; the National Council of Women’s Organizations; Girls, Women and Media Project; Advocates for Youth;
Alliance for Children and Families; Concerned Women for America; and the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families.
Following CBS’ airing of the program, the FTC announced it would review its indecency policy. PTC applauded the news.
“PTC doesn’t want to be perceived as a right-wing religious group,” Mansfield said. “They’re trying to pander to non-Christian donors.”
Mansfield asserts his firing amounted to a sacrificial lamb to liberals offended by the prayer.
“I’m told one donor withdrew $100,000 and another withdrew $10,000,” he said.
A spokesperson for PTC confirmed Mansfield was fired but said his characterization of the firing was
“completely inaccurate.” The spokesperson, who did not want to be quoted, also declined to answer
further questions on the matter.
Mansfield is a leading Christian conservative voice in Idaho who has been involved in political activism
for more than two decades. He founded and headed up the state’s Focus on the Family affiliate for 10 years and made an unsuccessful bid for Congress in 2000. Just prior to joining PTC, Mansfield succeeded in getting a referendum on the state legislature’s repeal of term limits onto the November ballot.
Mansfield worked for PTC for two months during which time he maintains he met PTC expectations and his commitments. According to Mansfield, moments before the prayer was delivered at the event, a videotape was played in which Bozell spoke glowingly of Mansfield’s leadership of PTC.
Two weeks later, and two days before Thanksgiving, Mansfield received an e-mail he said amounted to an eviction letter informing him he was fired and should evacuate his office immediately. No reason was given. No severance package was offered.
“To be summarily ushered out as if I had broken all the rules of a CEO and as if I was a temporary worker … it was unbelievable and,
quite frankly, unprofessional,” Mansfield told WND.
“I would caution Americans against giving to PTC,” he continued. “There are a lot of organizations people can give to and I’m not sure one that’s being more PC than J.C. (Jesus Christ) is the one to choose.”
“You can’t play to the Christian community – the mom and pops who give $5 and $10 – and at the same time appeal to non-Christian donors. The name of Jesus divides those two groups,” he continued.
Ironically, PTC is hosting an annual conference of what’s known as the “D.C. group,” a collection of Christian conservative groups including the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America.
PTC’s spokesperson described next week’s Pro-Family Forum slated to take place at PTC headquarters in Hollywood as a “gathering of like-minded organizations.”
When asked whether PTC was a Christian conservative organization, the spokesperson stressed, “PTC is a non-partisan organization. We like to position ourselves in the middle. Our goal is to clean up TV, and that really doesn’t have a political bent.” The spokesperson then pointed out that NOW had teamed up with PTC to oppose the Victoria’s Secret show on CBS.
Mansfield, who was in the process of moving his family from Boise, Idaho, to Hollywood remains upbeat.
“If I got fired in the name of Jesus, fire me everyday. I’m not ashamed of that,” he said.
Baehr calls the whole experience “a blessing.”
“Anytime you rout out bigotry, it’s a good thing,” he said.
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