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American Atheists Protests Emmy Awards Censorship

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 12, 2007
2:45 PM

CONTACT:  American Atheists
Ellen Johnson, President (908) 276-7300
Dave Silverman, Communications Director (732) 648-9333

 
Atheist Group Protests Emmy Awards Censorship
Emmy Awards Cave To Religion Police -- Public Deserves To Hear Full Text of Griffin Monologue
 

CALIFORNIA - September 12 -An Atheist civil rights group is calling for a boycott of the Emmy Awards if officials censor remarks by comedienne Kathy Griffin making light of stars who "thank Jesus" for their good fortune.

The awards ceremony is scheduled for broadcast on the E! Channel on Saturday night. Ms. Griffin won a creative arts Emmy last weekend for her hit program "My Life on the D-List." She remarked that "a lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus... This award is my god now."

The Roman Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights complained however, and League president William Donohue blasted Ms. Griffin's remarks as "vulgar, in-your-face-brand of hate speech." The group called upon the TV academy to "denounce Griffin's obscene and blasphemous comment" as well. A statement released by the Academy of Television Arts& Sciences (which oversees the Emmy awards) concurred, saying that the "offensive" portions of Ms. Griffin's comments would be cut from Saturday's broadcast.

Ellen Johnson, President of American Atheists said that the League and the Academy were censoring speech by Atheists. Ms. Griffin has, in fact, described herself as a "militant Atheist."

"It's permissible to make religious comments at the Emmy Awards and other public events as long as they do not criticize or threaten the self-appointed 'Religion Police," said Johnson. "Celebrities can go on national television to 'thank' Jesus, or Allah, or Scientology for their success, but an Atheist cannot make an honest and forthright statement that their success came from developing their talents and working hard."

"Now we're going to be scrutinizing stage routines by comics for 'blasphemy'?" asked Johnson? "This is something I'd expect in a nation like Saudi Arabia or Taliban-controlled Afghanistan."

Dave Silverman, Communications Director for American Atheists, said that the decision by the Academy to "cave in" to threats was wrong. "Say what you want about God and Jesus, as long as it's positive and thankful. But disavow Jesus, even in a joke, and you might as well be swearing, and you'll get bleeped."

"Theistic speech is welcome at the Emmy Awards, but the least bit of levity and humor about religion is not."

Mr. Silverman added that American Atheists was urging its members, and all others concerned about censorship in the media, to contact the Awards to protest the decision to censor Ms. Griffin's comment.

AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for Atheists; works for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.

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