- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 8, 2001

Johnny Hart, the most widely read cartoonist in the world, has been savagely maligned for drawing a “B.C.” comic strip honoring Easter. In my opinion, these assaults were but one tactic in a larger strategy of anti-Christian activism in America.

Before I proceed to make the case, it is necessary that I reveal my partisan and vested interest in this story. Johnny Hart is a friend of mine, not merely an acquaintance, but a dear and beloved friend. We are both nationally syndicated by Creators Syndicate, and we are both devout Christians.

Furthermore, we are collaborating on a work of fiction called “The Remnant — A Prophetic Fable,” which I wrote and he illustrated. Having successfully completed a field test, we will be publishing a hard-cover edition this fall along with an “audio drama” version on tape and compact disc.

I also want to be perfectly clear that I do not speak for Creators Syndicate or for Johnny Hart.

This is how the assault on Johnny Hart unfolded. On April 8, 2001, the Jewish Defense League (JDL) announced that it had received an advance copy of the Hart comic strip scheduled to be published on Easter Sunday. Under the direction of Chairman Irv Rubin, the JDL web site characterized the strip as “highly crude, insulting, and an example of outright Jew-hatred. … It is telling Christians to destroy our religion in the name of Jesus.” Readers and supporters were urged to call newspapers and encourage them not to print the strip.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, fretted that “the syndicated comic strip, 'B.C.' by Johnny Hart … is a canard against the Jewish people and will promote hatred rather than tolerance and diversity.” He said newspaper publishers had a responsibility not to print it.

Abraham Foxman, who heads the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, said the cartoon ” … conveys the message that Christianity has replaced Judaism.” Rabbi Jack Moline of Alexandria, Va., was quoted in The Washington Post as saying, “Johnny Hart has reached a new pinnacle in his annual offensiveness.”

Days before Hart's Easter strip was to appear, the Los Angeles Times announced that after 33 years, “B.C.” was being permanently discontinued. Their contention that this had nothing to do with the upcoming Easter strip is ludicrous. They have been after Hart for years, frequently censoring his strip because of its Christian messages.

This is the same newspaper that printed a week-long series of Garry Trudeau's comic strip “Doonesbury,” which carried the fraudulent message that the Catholic Church historically encouraged and performed homosexual marriages.

What we have in view is an orchestrated attack on the public expression of Christian faith even, if you can believe it, in a comic strip. That the attack was orchestrated is not in doubt. The illegal circulation and printing of the strip, the barrage of published criticism, the news releases and the open intimidation of newspapers, all happened several days before the strip was scheduled to be published. It was an ambush.

The strip in question shows the Jewish Passover menorah gradually transforming into the Christian cross. Hart uses his strip to brilliantly illustrate that Jesus Christ has become the Passover lamb, that is to say, “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” This is what Hart's drawings were saying. This is the standard belief of most Christians. Surely they may express this belief without being called hatemongers.

The Hart strip was not about the end of or the replacement of the Jews. Jesus made it clear that He did not come to replace the law of the Old Testament, but to fulfill it.

In my search for a reason to explain why various Jewish groups would react so strongly to an Easter cartoon, I came upon a book, “The Vanishing American Jew,” by Harvard Professor Alan M. Dershowitz. In the second sentence of the book, Dershowitz wrote, “The bad news is that the American Jew — as a people — have never been in greater danger of disappearing through assimilation, intermarriage and low birth rates.” Later on, he laments that “if trends continue apace, American Jewry … may virtually vanish by the third quarter of the 21st century.”

The answer is clear. The fear of the loss of racial identity explains the venomous overreaction to Hart's Easter message, and accounts for the willingness, even the eagerness to give it the worst possible interpretation.

It is becoming obvious that hackles go up and the knives come out anytime the name “Jesus” is used in a public forum. I would be greatly surprised if there is not a backlash to this form of anti-Christian bigotry. I pity the Los Angeles Times and other cowardly publications when they reap the retribution of outraged subscribers and advertisers.



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