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SpongeBob creators accused of advancing gay agenda

SpongeBob creators accused of advancing gay agenda

SpongeBob SquarePants, the popular cartoon character known the world over for his underwater antics, has recently become the target of antigay Christian groups who accuse his creators of advancing a gay agenda in America's public schools. "Does anybody here know SpongeBob?" James C. Dobson, founder of the antigay group Focus on the Family, asked guests at a Tuesday night black-tie dinner for members of Congress, according to a report by The New York Times. SpongeBob needed no introduction. In addition to his popularity among children, who watch his cartoon show, he has become a well-known camp figure among gay men, perhaps because he holds hands with his animated sidekick, Patrick, and likes to watch the imaginary television show The Adventures of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy. Now, Dobson said, SpongeBob's creators had enlisted him in a "pro-homosexual video," in which he appeared alongside children's television colleagues like Barney and Jimmy Neutron, among many others. The makers of the video, he said, planned to mail it to thousands of elementary schools to promote a "tolerance pledge" that includes tolerance for differences of "sexual identity." The video's creator, Nile Rodgers, who wrote the disco hit "We Are Family," told the Times that Dobson's objection stems from a misunderstanding. Rodgers said he founded the We Are Family Foundation after the 9/11 attacks to create a music video to teach children about multiculturalism. The video has appeared on television networks, and nothing in it or its accompanying materials refers to sexual identity. The pledge, borrowed from the Southern Poverty Law Center, is not mentioned on the video and is available only on the group's Web site. Rodgers suggested that Dobson and the American Family Association, the conservative Christian group that first sounded the alarm, might have been confused because of an unrelated Web site belonging to another group called "We Are Family," which supports gay youth. "The fact that some people may be upset with each other peoples' lifestyles, that is OK," Rodgers said. "We are just talking about respect." Mark Barondess, the foundation's lawyer, said the critics "need medication." On Wednesday, however, Paul Batura, assistant to Dobson at Focus on the Family, said the group stood by its accusation. "We see the video as an insidious means by which the organization is manipulating and potentially brainwashing kids," he told the Times. "It is a classic bait and switch."

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