Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
A Michigan television station agreed to broadcast a Christian documentary critical of the “gay rights” movement, but later backed out – and now a family values organization is questioning whether the station’s about-face was influenced by a former newsroom executive who is a homosexual activist.
As WND reported, WOOD-TV of Grand Rapids, Mich., originally agreed to air the hour-long paid program “Speechless: Silencing Christians,” a documentary seeking to expose the agenda of homosexual activists and their impact on families and freedom of religion. The station later canceled the agreement shortly after the Human Rights Campaign, a pro-homosexual organization, issued a national alert against the film urging people to call for its cancellation.
The American Family Association of Michigan, however, has now learned that Trevor Thomas, the deputy communications director for the HRC in Washington, D.C., once worked in WOOD-TV’s newsroom.
Gary Glenn, president of AFA-Michigan, said in a statement to WOOD-TV General Manager Diane Kniowski that he originally suspected the cancellation was merely a matter of political correctness, but now wonders how deeply the connection runs between Thomas and the station.
“Now,” Glenn wrote to Kniowski, “we learn that a public spokesman for the so-called Human Rights Campaign – the national homosexual activist group that claimed credit for pressuring your station to censor and breach its agreement to air AFA’s paid documentary – is a former long-time WOOD-TV newsroom executive who while holding that position was allowed by the station to actively and publicly campaign against the Marriage Protection Amendment approved by Michigan voters in 2004.
“That new information,” Glenn continued, “leads us to question whether the real story is that WOOD-TV management was unduly influenced by or even acted in collusion with a former high-level staffer who you allowed to openly campaign for homosexual activists’ political agenda while with the station and who now promotes that agenda full-time nationwide.”
According to the HRC website, Thomas worked as an assignment editor and news producer at WOOD-TV from at least September 2001 through November 2004. During his tenure at the station, Thomas also wrote an essay for The Grand Rapids Press, speaking out against Michigan’s 2004 marriage amendment. Following its publication, he served on a number of college panels on “gay,” lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues. Thomas’ work also includes a three-year tenure on the board of directors for the Network of Western Michigan: a non-profit that aides the GLBT community.
Two television station professionals, according to a Michigan Messenger report, denied any hint of collusion between Thomas and the station, and scoffed at the AFA description of Thomas’ news room producer position as either an “executive” or a “high-level staffer.”
The Messenger reached Thomas by phone, but he declined to comment on the allegations of collusion.
A WOOD-TV statement released following cancellation of “Speechless” suggested the station was attempting to back out of the controversy over the program.
“Our station is being bombarded with calls and messages, and we find ourselves in the middle of someone else’s fight,” Kniowski said in the statement. “We are removing ourselves from this matter.”
Glenn, however, says the timing of WOOD-TV’s cancellation announcement – coming only an hour after the HRC’s action alert was issued – suggests there may have been an intentional coordination.
He said WOOD-TV’s claim that it cancelled the broadcast to avoid controversy “is simply nonsensical in light of the station’s actual actions, which were tailor-made to generate as much controversy and publicity as possible.”
“The question,” Glenn continued, “is whether WOOD-TV was influenced by its former editor and producer to handle it this way on purpose to make sure its censorship of the AFA video got as much publicity as possible and their former newsroom executive’s new employer got the credit.”
“Speechless,” hosted by talk show host Janet Parshall, emphasizes the media’s role in promotion of homosexuals’ “radical agenda,” and includes examples of how television shows and movies such as “Friends,” “Will & Grace,” “The L-Word,” “The War at Home,” “ER” and “Entourage” attempt to persuade viewers that aversions to homosexuality stem from bigotry and ignorance.
“Speechless” explores the homosexual lobby’s impact on school curriculums. Videos promoted as anti-bullying actually endorsed “gay” lifestyles, and students were forced to view them during school hours. It claims homosexual lobbyists also push for “gay” literature in schools.
According to the program, the homosexual activist agenda demands same-sex “marriage,” teaches children that homosexuality is normal, promotes homosexual service in the armed forces, pushes for hate crime laws that threaten freedom of speech, calls for laws forcing Christian business to hire homosexuals and insists upon reserving minority status and preferential treatment for them.
“If you think that agenda is bad for America, you must do something,” a female voiceover states.