By: Dave Astor

Paper Says It Wasn’t Due To Religious Controversy

The Los Angeles Times dropped “B.C.” after 33 years, but says it wasn’t because of the strip’s occasional religious references.

The Times canceled Johnny Hart’s feature effective April 9 – six days before a controversial Easter Sunday comic that seemingly showed a menorah morphing into a cross.

Religious “B.C.” episodes were dropped by the Times in the past. “There’s certainly been a history,” said a Times spokesperson, but added that canceling “B.C.” now is a “coincidence. We just felt it was time for a change.”

Creators Syndicate President/CEO Rick Newcombe said last week that he did not know whether any of Hart’s other 1,300 papers would drop the April 15 “B.C.”

The Easter strip drew mixed reactions from the Jewish community.

The Jewish Defense League (JDL) stated on its Web site: “‘B.C.’ is pushing Replacement Theology (the theory that Christianity has replaced Judaism as ‘The Chosen’ because the Jews do not accept Jesus as messiah) … . It is telling Christians to destroy our religion in the name of Jesus.” JDL Chairman Irv Rubin urged JDL members and supporters to ask their local newspapers to drop the April 15 comic.

But JewishWorldReview.com Editor in Chief Binyamin Jolkovsky said Hart’s message is “one of love, not hate. I believe Hart is preaching that, despite Christianity being the majority religion in this nation, members of other faiths need not worry as they must in other lands.”

Hart said “my intent was to pay tribute to both” Christianity and Judaism at the time of Easter and Passover.

Newcombe agreed, saying the April 15 strip “is simply a calendar recognition of two important religious holidays. Some have mistakenly interpreted the strip to be anti-Jewish. This is ridiculous.”

Dave Astor (dastor@editorandpublisher.com) is a senior editor at E&P.

Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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