VeggieTales gets puréed

Albert Mohler is reporting on the NBC screening of VeggieTales under the headline, “Bob the Tomato gets censored“. According to Al,

Bob the Tomato’s signature sign-off line, “God made you special and he loves you very much,” was replaced with “Thanks for coming over to my house, kids. See you next week.”

The Los Angeles Times, who Mohler cites, note that

After first blaming time constraints as the reason certain references to God were cut from a popular children’s television series, NBC on Friday acknowledged that the edits were made because the network did not want to appear to be advocating any religion.The new statement came in the wake of mounting criticism from advocacy groups that questioned why NBC had asked the creators of “VeggieTales” to take out the references.

“NBC is committed to the positive messages and universal values of ‘VeggieTales,’ ” the statement said. “Our goal is to reach as broad an audience as possible with these positive messages, while being careful not to advocate any one religious point of view.”

The LA Times goes on to report a Mr. Wurtzel of the NBC as stating:

“Clearly the show has religious themes,” Mr. Wurtzel said. “It puts forth some very specific religious values. We had to make a decision about where it went further than we considered appropriate.”

to which Mohler rightly responds:

Again — what “particular religion” or “particular denomination” is being advocated here?

NBC fears that Bob the Tomato is a zealot — a clever televangelist seducing children with his radical theology of God’s love — and with his theology made less threatening by his vegetable charm. Larry the Cucumber was evidently unavailable for comment.

All well and good but I want to suggest that there is a deeper problem here and, ultimately, there is no loss. Because (and brace yourself for this) VeggieTales was never very Christian anyway. As the creators themselves put it, VeggieTales is

That’s right,

Sunday morning values

But since when has the Christian message been about values?. How on earth do values reconcile our children to the true and living God? Now, I don’t want to sound all negative here but I’ve never ever seen a VeggieTale video that actually clearly communicates the gospel (and I’ve seen a fair few). Since it’s inception and the glorious video “Are you my neighbour?” (which is immensely entertaining), through to the story of Joshua/Larry leading the people into the promised land (complete with an inspired rip-off of the castle siege scene in Monty Python’ s Quest for the Holy Grail) and beyond (including fantastic retellings of Esther and Jonah), VeggieTales has been high on quality and entertainment and values but completely lacking in gospel.

BigIdea respond:

Recognizing that we are making a difference to Saturday morning TV by bringing programming that is “absent of bad and has a presence of good” to homes across America, would we still prefer to air the un-edited versions of VeggieTales on TV? Absolutely! It’s there where we’re able to share a Bible verse and encourage kids by telling them God made them special and He loves them very much. For now, we’re hoping a new cross section of kids will fall in love with Bob & Larry, go deeper into VeggieTales and eventually fall in love with the God who made them. It’s the same “big idea” we’ve worked on for over 13 years.

Except that, of course, it’s now one step even further removed. When did moralism ever lead to Christ?

Personally, I think their finest work is when they just concentrate on being silly:

So, when Mohler asks,

Again — what “particular religion” or “particular denomination” is being advocated here?

I also want to know the answer.

Perhaps someone can help me? Where did VeggieTales ever teach the gospel?

All of which is a sad indictment on NBC. Because it’s not even the gospel that they are reacting against – it’s simply the mention of God (who is – of course – bigger than the boogeyman).

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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. detroitfather

    through to the story of Joshua/Larry leading the people into the promised land

    I always thought that the story of the deliverance from Egypt and the crossing over into the Promised Land was a telling of the Gospel, if only in shadows.

    1. David Ould

      well, yes
      But I don’t think VeggieTales ever make the link

  2. prester_scott

    As weak as VeggieTales can be, and as dilute as the NBC presentation is, it may lead parents to buy the videos and expose the kids (and themselves) to slightly more “explicit” Christian media. Not that much of that is great either, but in a pagan society it’s better than nothing.

  3. anitra

    “Again — what ‘particular religion’ or ‘particular denomination’ is being advocated here?”

    Monotheism. Didn’t you know? You can’t assert that there is a single God. You might offend the pagans and the Hindus and the atheists. And heaven forbid that you say this one God is a PERSON instead of an impersonal force.

    Did they cut out the Scripture verse sections too?
    “And so what we have learned / Applies to our life today / God has a lot to say / In His book!”

  4. lhynard

    The 2 Christmas and the Easter episodes, by the way, contain more information about Jesus, which is closer to giving the whole Gospel than the episodes about OT stories.

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