When a Comic Turns Serious in L.A. Christians Protest `Censoring' of `B.C.'

Article excerpt

The Los Angeles Times has set off a nationwide furor by withholding a popular comic strip, "B.C." by Johnny Hart, because it featured content celebrating the triumphant arrival of Christ in Jerusalem the week before he was crucified.

The withheld cartoon, captioned "The Suffering Prince," shows a regular "B.C." character named Wiley sitting with his back to a tree, writing a poem about the Crucifixion.

"His heart has been pierced that yours may beat, and the blood of his corpse washes your feet. . . . Never to mourn the prince who was downed, for he is not lost. It is you who are found," Wiley's poem goes.

The newspaper defended pulling the strip as a legitimate act of editorial judgment. "We exercised our editorial judgment" in pulling the strip, Times spokeswoman Ariel Remler said. "We've been running `B.C.' by cartoonist Johnny Hart since 1968, but lately he's been running cartoons with religious overtones."

Miss Remler said she understands the strip for Easter Sunday also contains a religious theme. She said she does not know whether the Times will publish the Easter strip or one on Good Friday. The strip the Los Angeles Times pulled was published in The Washington Post, which regularly runs "B.C."

The omission of "B.C." prompted a protest by the Christian Coalition. The group complained of the "censoring" of a popular comic strip offering a "positive" and "inspirational" religious message.

"It's unbelievable they are going to . . . knowingly censor Christianity [when it is cast in] in a positive light. That's an openhanded slap in the face at people of faith," said Mike Russell, a spokesman for the group.

Mr. Russell said Creators Syndicate, the California news syndicate that distributes "B.C.," reports that the Good Friday strip "will contain a religious message appropriate for the holiday. …