Evangelist Franklin Graham is asking his nearly 2 million Twitter followers to challenge federal funding for PBS, after a character on one of the network’s cartoons came out as gay and got married.
Graham says the same-sex marriage of Mr. Ratburn, a third grade teacher on the long-running children’s cartoon “Arthur,” is “promoting the LGBTQ agenda.”
Criticism of the episode has grown in the week since Graham issued his complaint, including a May 20 announcement that Alabama Public Television was refusing to air the episode due to “possible viewer concerns about the content,” reported NBC News.
“Why should our government be financing PBS programming that promotes what the Bible calls sin?” Graham tweeted late Wednesday.
“I think many viewers may be surprised and disappointed in this content decision,” Graham continued. “I hope everyone will rise up and clearly tell PBS that they do not want to see this kind of programming slipped in to try to influence the hearts and minds of our children and grandchildren.”
MSN.com says fans of the “beloved” show “went wild” for the episode’s plot twist. However, the Christian Post reports The Family Research Council believes “Arthur” producers are “taking advantage” of the trust parents put in shows aimed at children.
Graham’s tweets have gotten more than 5,000 reactions in 12 hours, and his Facebook post has been shared 32,000 times as of Thursday morning. The 15,000-plus responses include a running argument between people who support Graham and those defending separation of church and state.
“PBS and NPR: Propaganda machines paid for by the people to try to ‘teach’ us something. Crazy,” said Jane Draws in response to Graham’s tweet.
“I’ve been asking for years: Why am I forced to fund that broadcasting?” wrote Vicki Cottom Linker.
“We aren’t an evangelical christian theocracy and marriage between 2 men or 2 women is legal in this country,” responded someone going by the name Nirish.
“Separation of church and state. Church should NOT be involved in any government decisions. Religion needs to be away from our government,” tweeted someone using the name DylansDeadly.
The episode served as the season 22 premier, and the plot twist of Mr. Ratburn’s gay relationship came as a “surprise” to viewers, reported EW.com.
“Yep, Mr. Ratburn is gay! Who knew?” wrote EW’s Tyler Aquilina.
Out.com notes Graham is joining other conservatives in criticizing the episode, including Sebastian Gorka, host of the “America First” on Salem Radio Network.
Gorka, also the former deputy assistant to President Donald Trump, tweeted Tuesday that the show is representative of a “culture war” going on in the nation.
“Did you have any questions about there being a culture war, ladies and gentlemen?” Out.com quoted Gorka as asking. “Did you have any doubt in your mind?”