Sex Abuse Allegations Against '7th Heaven' TV Star Smeared on the Christian Right, Parents Television Council

On Friday’s edition of “The View,” both Whoopi Goldberg and Rosie O’Donnell expressed great surprise and horror at the reports from a nasty divorce that actor Stephen Collins admitted sexually abusing young girls.

This should be added to the growing list of scandals over sex abuse in liberal Hollywood. At The Daily Beast, uber-feminist writer Amanda Marcotte tried to smear this dark new portrait of Collins all over the religious right and the Parents Television Council (founded by our MRC president Brent Bozell).

The subhead on the article stated: “A man who allegedly touched little girls was the warm, smiling face of an effort to make the rest of us feel guilty about our non-abusive, consensual sex lives.”

Marcotte drags out her usual spiel about how religious people hate sex and are wracked by guilt and spend their days ruining everyone else's sexual fun with their "fundamentalist Christianity." She never acknowledges the difference between the artist and the art, that the actor's sins don't make it wrong for a lobbying group for family-friendly TV to laud the show:

While it’s always alarming to hear about any child abuse allegations, this case has particular resonance because of Collins’s most famous role, that of Rev. Eric Camden, the Christian patriarch ruling over a brood of seven children with his wife Annie. The show was both inexplicably popular—running for over 10 years—and notorious for its conservative tone. Much of the series was turned over to moralistic preaching about the evils of premarital sex. The conservative Christian organization Parents Television Council routinely cited 7th Heaven as one of its favorite shows on TV, calling it “one of the most wholesome and inoffensive programs on television.”

Looking back, 7th Heaven is an amazing relic of the late ’90s and the Bush era, a time when fundamentalist Christianity that placed a special emphasis on sexual “purity” was on the upswing. The show’s heavy reliance on storylines where sexuality is treated like a danger to be stifled and heavily policed reflected a culture that was suddenly awash in megachurches, purity rings, and even pop stars like Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, and the Jonas Brothers bragging about their virginity....

Of course, Miley Cyrus exchanged her purity ring for a wrecking ball to lick while naked instead and a full third of adults under 30 now have no religion at all. While we are still having to deal with the fallout from the anti-sex religious mania of the 7th Heaven era—witness how Texas is now down to a mere eight abortion clinics to serve the entire state—it’s clear that culturally, the tide is turning.

It’s not just that Americans have suddenly remembered that we actually like sex and don’t particularly like having uptight God-botherers scold us for having it, though that no doubt plays a role. It’s also because the very people who were holding themselves out to be moral leaders to guide us all away from our more animal urges and towards the light turned out, all too often, to be very bad people. While they were guilt-tripping us for our harmless and normal sexual desires, many religious right luminaries had secret lives that were actually dangerous and harmful to others.

Please remember that when it comes to "actually dangerous and harmful" behaviors, Marcotte thinks aborting a baby is a wonderful, liberating experience where apparently no human is in danger of harm. Apparently, you're an "uptight God-botherer" to see abortion as a greater sin to a child than sexual abuse, although they're both horrors.

There's one brief feint toward reality that Collins was only playing a minister before she jumps right back to shifting the blame from Hollywood to the Christian guilt-trippers:

Stephen Collins is just an actor, of course, and no one should confuse him with a character he played on TV. That said, there’s something quite resonant about the fact that 7th Heaven, a show that was barely disguised religious right propaganda being broadcast into our homes for over a decade, used a now-accused child molester as the centerpiece of that push. That a man who allegedly touched little girls could turn around and put a warm, smiling face on an effort to make the rest of us feel guilty about our non-abusive, consensual sex lives is almost a little too perfect of a morality tale. Certainly it’s a more interesting story than any of the plots on 7th Heaven.

Hopefully, it’s a lesson Americans won’t soon forget: Behind the polished surfaces of the pious “family values” image lays, all too often, all sorts of abusive and hateful behavior.

Anti-Religious Bias Christianity Feminism The Daily Beast Amanda Marcotte
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