March 2008 – American Family Association (AFA) and The Inspiration Networks (INSP) are excited about the premiere of their joint project titled Speechless … Silencing the Christians. Speechless is a TV series that exposes the reality of America’s anti-Christian bias and urges believers to put an end to the silence.
The series will air as 13 half-hour episodes on three different networks beginning this month. It will debut on INSP Saturday, March 1, at 8:30 p.m. (EST) and i-Lifetv (digital) Friday, March 7, at 9:30 p.m. (EST). Speechless will also air on the Inspiration Network International, which broadcasts in Europe, the Middle East and northern Africa.
Below LeAnne Burnett Morse, executive producer of Speechless, gives AFA Journal an in-depth look at the purpose, people and production behind the series.
AFA Journal: How did the idea for this series come about?
LeAnne Burnett Morse: About three years ago I read a book by David Limbaugh, titled Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity, and I was stunned. We’ve all heard about the “liberal media,” but the average citizen probably doesn’t realize what the liberal agenda has done and threatens to do to our culture. The examples in Mr. Limbaugh’s book had me scratching my head and wondering, “Does anyone else know about this, and where’s the public outcry?”
After reading the book, there was a tremendous burden in my spirit that I wasn’t supposed to just read this and file it away. I felt God calling me to sound the alarm with whatever skills He has given me, which happen to lie in the medium of television [having been a television writer and producer for 17 years]. I started doing research and the more I dug into the subject, the more determined I became that if more people knew about what was really happening they would be shocked by how much we stand to lose if things continue on the current course. I pitched the idea of the show to my programming executives at The Inspiration Networks and, with the help of AFA, a partnership was developed and the show went into production in fall 2007.
AFAJ: Describe the series.
LBM: Speechless … Silencing the Christians is a rallying call to Christians and conservatives across the country. Through interviews with people who have experienced persecution because of their religious faith, we are showing how personal freedoms are being stolen from us.
AFAJ: What’s the series’ purpose?
LBM: Speechless is to wake up the Christian and conservative population to what is happening and to equip them to take a stand for their rights. We are not seeking to take away anyone’s right to speak or to claim that our rights are more important that any others. But, we are standing up and saying, “If it’s OK for you to stand in the street and say that homosexuality is normal, then it is our right to stand in the same street and say we believe it is a sin.” We’re standing up for fairness, not special treatment, and we’re speaking out against persecution of any kind. Equal should be equal.
AFAJ: Where did you film?
LBM: We’ve been across the country from Philadelphia to San Francisco, from Ashland, Kentucky, to Houston, Texas, and many points in between. We’ve covered a township that is only one square mile in size on the New Jersey coast, and we’ve been in the biggest cities in America. The problem is not limited to big cities or places you hear about in the news every day. We’ve been in coal-mining country and in the suburbs of some of the nation’s most conservative areas and what we’ve found there would shock our forefathers. It’s not the America they envisioned.
AFAJ: How did you get wind of these stories?
LBM: There is no shortage of stories. We found them through research, which includes books and news articles, Internet stories, and watchdog groups. AFA is vital to our research gathering as are groups like the Alliance Defense Fund, the Family Research Council, Liberty Legal Institute, and the Pacific Justice Institute.
AFAJ: Who have you interviewed?
LBM: We’ve covered a diverse group, thus far. We have spoken with families and children who have been impacted as well as those who have had their businesses affected. We’ve also spoken with many experts on the subjects of hate crimes legislation, Christian persecution and defamation, and legislative initiatives like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and the push to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine. And we offer the microphone to those who are on the other side of the issues we cover. We give them a chance to tell the audience why they believe as they do and how they justify their actions.
AFAJ: Tell us about the “experts” featured in the series.
LBM: Our experts are on the front lines of these issues. We are interviewing the people who are arguing the cases in court, defending the cause in the mainstream media, making decisions on Capitol Hill and representing those who are facing persecution as they navigate through the legal system. Our host, Janet Parshall, is phenomenal. She is so well-versed on these issues and she’s tough. She’s highly respected in Washington and around the country, and we couldn’t have a better person to host the show.
AFAJ: Highlight a few of the stories featured in the series.
LBM: When you tune in to the show you’ll see how kids in public schools are forbidden to mention Jesus but are forced to learn about Muhammad and chant praises to Allah calling him “lord of creation.” You’ll see how a church is being sued because they wouldn’t allow their building to be used for a lesbian civil union. We’ll even show you how the move to be politically correct has led to the Veteran’s Administration removing Christian crosses from its hospital chapel. Can you imagine a chapel where a cross is forbidden? Or how about a man dressed as a woman with full rights to use the girl’s locker room where your 14-year-old daughter is dressing? It’s staggering when you look at what’s happening, and it’s time we stand up and say “enough.”
AFAJ: What does the anti-Christian bias reveal about our nation?
LBM: Very simply, it reveals that we’re largely asleep at the wheel. Studies show that a large percentage of our nation’s citizens hold traditional values and that most profess to be people of faith. But when you see the kind of wholesale erosion of values that we’re seeing today you have to wonder where these people are while their freedoms are being stolen.
I don’t think it’s a matter of people not caring. I think it’s that people don’t know the reality because it’s not portrayed on the nightly news or in the mainstream media [since] many of these outlets are controlled by liberal-leaning thinkers.
AFAJ: So how can Christians speak up and end the silence?
LBM: To eliminate the bias we have to get in the game. To continue the sports metaphor, we have to play with the same equipment they use. They are vocal while we are silent. They are active while we are dormant. They use their wallets to support groups and activities that move their agenda forward. In other words, they speak. They speak with their voices, their votes, their money, their influence and their activism. We have these same options open to us, at least until we are completely shut down through laws that will silence us permanently. Speechless is an effort to empower people of faith and people who hold traditional values to step up to the plate.
AFAJ: What kinds of challenges do you face when trying to expose what’s really happening?
LBM: In producing a show like this we run the risk of being written off by the mainstream media as right-wing zealots or bigots, but that’s a cop-out because what we’re really standing for is something they claim to espouse – protection of our freedoms. We face those challenges head-on because to remain silent is to invite more restrictions and more discrimination. We owe it to our children and their children to leave them with a society where the principles this country was founded on are still intact.
AFAJ: What kind of effect do you hope Speechless has on its viewers?
LBM: I hope it wakes them up and makes them realize that every person can make a difference. You don’t have to carry a picket sign or file a lawsuit or run for Congress. You can write a letter or make a phone call or support an organization or send an e-mail. There is no limit to what impact each person can have. Liberal causes have perfected the squeaky wheel theory. They make noise so the attention is focused on them. But to make such a loud noise they need thousands of individual voices. Each person who watches Speechless and wants to make a difference is an important part of our larger voice. Don’t sit still and think your neighbor will take care of it. Be the voice.