An American evangelist’s television series on Islam in America was canceled by a Canadian station after the first program because Muslims complained his tone and demeanor was an incitement of hatred.
San Antonio-based pastor John Hagee’s “tone in his comparison of what Christians believe according to the Bible and what Muslims believe according to the Quran” violated the code of ethics of Toronto station CTS, said Program Manager Rob Sheppard in a letter of apology to a Muslim activist group.
Sheppard told WorldNetDaily he believes Hagee’s primary intent was not to preach from his religious convictions but to incite hatred.
“It was a tonal thing,” he said. “You could see what he was trying to do by his tone and body language.”
It wasn’t so much his exact words, Sheppard said, but Hagee’s purported inference Muslims cannot be loyal Americans.
CTS pulled the final two of three programs in the series titled “Islam in America,” scheduled to run in August on “John Hagee Today,” which continues in its regular time slot, albeit under closer scrutiny, according to Sheppard.
The program manager said his station’s actions – a letter of apology to Muslims and a warning to Hagee’s group – was prompted by 50 to 100 letters of complaint from viewers, followed by contact from the Council on American-Islamic Relations Canadian branch in Ottawa.
Judging by the names, Sheppard said he believes most of the letters were from Muslims.
In his apology to CAIR Canada, an affilate of Washington, D.C.-based CAIR, a group with ties to Hamas, Sheppard wrote, “I trust you will understand that we are very sorry for this incident and we are very aware of the effect it has had on the Muslim community. We have made it very clear that he must follow our code of ethics and any program that does not meet our standard will be rejected.”
Sheppard said, “Once we were made aware of complaints made by viewers … we responded immediately.”
Charles McZety, Canadian representative for John Hagee Ministries, told WorldNetDaily this is not the first time complaints of this kind have been lodged against the pastor’s program. He contends the charges in this instance are too vague.
“When you get down to talking about tone, the tone of one’s voice, then there is nothing to talk about,” he said. “It’s too subjective.”
Hagee, who is traveling in Israel, was not available for comment.
Sheppard acknowledged the judgment against Hagee is based on subjective criteria, but said it was the response from viewers that precipitated pulling the remainder of the three-part series.
“I listened to the people who contacted us, and they perceived his tone to be demeaning,” Sheppard said. “It is subjective, but there were a lot of people who contacted us who were upset.”
CTS, or Crossroads Television Systems, which positions itself as a “family friendly” inspirational station, reaches 6.5 million people in the Toronto area, Sheppard said, and many more across the nation via satellite. It features programming from a variety of religions.
McZety said complaints about program content related to Islam was a longstanding problem on the previous Canadian carrier of Hagee’s program, the multi-faith Vision TV network, which censored each one of the shows for 12 years.
A program in which Hagee played video of Muslim imams in both the United States and overseas preaching hatred and violence against Jews and Israel upset Muslims and resulted in complaints filed with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the equivalent of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, or FCC.
That action forced Hagee Ministries to pull the rest of the programs in that series. On another occasion, programs about Iraq also were pulled.
Finally, this summer, Hagee Ministries decided to part ways with the Vision network after it produced a documentary series comparing the U.S. to the Hitler regime. Vision’s six-part series charged the U.S., in collaboration with its “CIA-trained partner” Osama bin Laden, planned the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as a pretext for attempts to gain world dominance. The U.S. is going about this, Vision said, in much the same way Nazi brownshirts torched the Reichstag, or parliament, in Berlin in 1933 and blamed it on Adolf Hitler’s enemies to provide a pretext for a crackdown propelling Hitler into power.
Vision, which reaches nearly every Canadian home and has a virtual monopoly on religious broadcasting, was founded by members of the United Church of Canada.
Another American evangelist ran afoul of Canadian standards last year when a leading Islamic group prepared to take legal action under the country’s hate-crimes laws.
Canadian Islamic Congress President Mohamed Elmasry told WorldNetDaily he believed criminal charges could be brought against Rev. Jerry Falwell and CBS television for the minister’s assertion in a “60 Minutes” interview Islam’s prophet Muhammad is a “terrorist.”
Canada’s genocide and hate-propaganda law bars a public statement that “willfully promotes hatred” against groups “distinguished by color, race, religion or ethnic origin.” The code has an article that excuses statements expressed in “good faith,” including religious expression, but judges have ruled against defendants deemed to have intentionally incited hatred. It also has a defense if the accused establishes that the statement in question is true.
Violators of the law are subject to a prison term of up to two years. Critics of the controversial statute say its vague wording can be used to criminalize legitimate public dialogue. The House of Commons passed a bill this year adding “sexual orientation” as a protected category of people, creating a scenario in which the Bible or Quran could be considered “hate literature” for its condemnation of homosexual behavior.