See All Topics

Home / Section: Controversies

Oliphant cartoon creating stir among Christians

Oliphant's controversial Palin Pentecostal cartoon

A recent editorial cartoon by Pat Oliphant regarding Vice President-nominee Sarah Palin has created a stir within the Christian community among those who felt that it lampooned the Pentecostal faith. The cartoon in question depicts Palin speaking in tongues and God responding, “Peter, what’s wrong with this phone? All I can hear is some dam’ right wing politician spouting gibberish!”

Ken Gurley, a belief blogger for the Houston Chronicle is demanding an apology – much like the Danish editor gave after the Mohammed cartoon riots. Mike Rhode corrects Gurley as there was no apology issued for publishing the infamous cartoons and wonders, “why Ken Gurley would like his religion compared to one whose members, after months of inciting to be sure, rioted over cartoon depictions.”

Deborah Howell, the Washington Post Ombudsman, writes that the Post has received about 350 complaints regarding the cartoon – which never ran in print, only online. She thinks the cartoon was “overdoing it.”

David K. Bernard, President of the Urshan Graduate School of Theology wrote a letter asking for an apology from the Post and received a “it’s free speech thing” response back from Jim Brady, executive editor of Washingtonpost.com to which Bernard respond in kind.

Community Comments

#1 Beth Cravens
September/18/2008
@ 7:54 am

Fundamentalists are fundamentalists no matter their religious preference. Oliphant must have been really riled when he drew this. Can’t say that I blame him.

#2 Mike Witmer
September/18/2008
@ 8:01 am

Funny is funny. I love how pissed people get over this type of thing.

#3 Wiley Miller
September/18/2008
@ 8:01 am

Oliphant has a long history of upsetting churches, particularly the Catholic church with his wonderfully hard hitting satire of the pedophile priests. Religious types don’t seem to be able to handle the truth very well.

#4 steve s
September/18/2008
@ 8:16 am

I love that God is saying a curse word!! Funny!!!!!!

#5 Margaret Shulock
September/18/2008
@ 8:48 am

Unlike God, some people can’t take a joke!

#6 frank white
September/18/2008
@ 10:06 am

Isn’t America supposed to be a land of free speech?

#7 frank white
September/18/2008
@ 10:11 am

I’m a religious person myself but I support Oliphant’s right fully to draw what he likes and good luck to him. Anybody who disagrees with a cartoon, book (Harry Potter book banning) or even record (burning Beatles Albums in the 60’s) should just turn the other cheek.Humour is a blessed thing and after all humour always has a grain of truth in it. To quote Homer Simpson ” Hee, Hee, It’s funny because it’s true!”

#8 Mike Sieber
September/18/2008
@ 10:13 am

Pat definitely struck out with this one. The fact that he has to have McCain explaining the cartoon is perplexing to me, especially since this is someone who has been in the business for so long.

Also, I’m not a “religious type” but does Palin speak in tongues or is that meant to be a generalization of all Christians?

I mean, I get that Pat is a left-wing guy, but I think it would’ve been better to actually make a point rather than just stir controversy. Maybe he’s getting too old for this.

#9 Josh McDonald
September/18/2008
@ 10:24 am

Seems to me the only people who should take offense at this are those who believe that God enjoys hearing right-wing gibberish.

#10 Monty Rohde
September/18/2008
@ 10:36 am

Ah, the good ol’ I-don’t-like-it-so-I’m-going-to-dismiss-it approach.
There is a point and it’s very obviously stated in the cartoon. If you still can’t figure it out I will tell you.

The point is:
The Republican party uses religion as a cheap gimmick to advance its agenda.

Whether or not you agree with this idea doesn’t matter. There IS a message, contrary to what you have said.

As for your question it is also pretty much answered by the cartoon. If you can’t figure that out do five minutes of research on google to figure out what speaking in tongues is.

#11 Matt Bors
September/18/2008
@ 10:54 am

This business of demanding apologies in politics these days kill me-especially with cartoons. It shows how many people fundamentally do not understand how an editorial cartoon works.

#12 Mike Sieber
September/18/2008
@ 11:02 am

Thanks for clearing that up, Monty. Still disagree with you, though.

#13 Milt Priggee
September/18/2008
@ 11:41 am

Pat struck out….?? Okaaay

#14 Mike Lester
September/18/2008
@ 11:57 am

Mr. Rhode: The point is:
The Republican party uses religion as a cheap gimmick to advance its agenda.

-and blacks can dance, Koreans are good at math and Southerners “do” their kin. The latest stereotypical ‘kill the Christians’ news comes from Tenn. Rep. Steve Cohen (Democrat and Jew, you think he might have some sympathy) comparing Obama to J.Christ and Palin to P.Pilate from the House floor. I love when libs quote the Bible. All three testaments! re: the cartoon? Oliphant is as entitled to lampoon God as I am Muhammed.

#15 Bryan Smith
September/18/2008
@ 1:02 pm

I’m a Pentecostal. While I disappove of the message of this cartoon…I forgive Mr. O. God bless him with salvation and truth. After all, that’s the only thing that would make him change his mind.

I believe in freedom of speech. But I believe in the Bible more. While all things may be lawful; all things are not expedient. Jesus said that if you mock the Holy Ghost (tongue talking experience)you will never be forgiven. I hope Mr. O did not realize what he was doing.

As a Christian, I realize that “all they that live godly in this life SHALL suffer persecution”. I don’t like the cartoon, but I must be doing something right to be mocked.

#16 Josh McDonald
September/18/2008
@ 1:03 pm

“Oliphant is as entitled to lampoon God as I am Muhammed.” I’m not going to disagree with that statement per se — but for the record, he’s not actually lampooning God. He’s lampooning right-wing idealism wrapped in religion. (And for what it’s worth, Jesus did much the same kind of thing in his day.)

“…does Palin speak in tongues or is that meant to be a generalization of all Christians?” I don’t know about Palin specifically, but she is Pentecostal, so speaking in tongues would be a regular part of worship at her church.

#17 steve s
September/18/2008
@ 1:43 pm

Bryan,

I’m so glad you forgive him. I was worried about that.

By the way, what scripture are you referring to when you say “Jesus said that if you mock the Holy Ghost (tongue talking experience)you will never be forgiven.”?

#18 Matt Bors
September/18/2008
@ 2:06 pm

Does Palin drop the Fargo accent when she’s stumping in angel tongue?

#19 Mark Mason
September/18/2008
@ 2:23 pm

I’m a Christian, but when I accepted Christ I didn’t have to give up my sense of humor or my party affiliation. As a democrat who attends a Nazarine church, I’m definitely in the minority. But so far, nobody has cried,”CRUCIFY HIM!”
I liked this cartoon as much as I did the Obama cover for the New Yorker. I don’t sweat the small stuff.

#20 Wiley Miller
September/18/2008
@ 4:07 pm

“Iâ??m a Pentecostal. While I disappove of the message of this cartoonâ?¦I forgive Mr. O. God bless him with salvation and truth.”

Doesn’t this statement presuppose that Oliphant did something wrong that needed your forgiveness and that he wasn’t telling the truth?

#21 Mike Peterson
September/18/2008
@ 4:25 pm

“The latest stereotypical â??kill the Christiansâ?? news comes from Tenn. Rep. Steve Cohen (Democrat and Jew, you think he might have some sympathy) comparing Obama to J.Christ and Palin to P.Pilate from the House floor.”

Oh, my. How sensitive we are! For those who can’t parse this, one of the more humorous responses to Sarah Palin’s trashing of community organizers was “Jesus Christ was a community organizer — Pontius Pilate was a governor.”

As was written by St. Lawrence of the Cable, “That’s funny — I don’t care who y’are!”

#22 Alan Gardner
September/18/2008
@ 4:29 pm

Doesnâ??t this statement presuppose that Oliphant did something wrong that needed your forgiveness and that he wasnâ??t telling the truth?

When it comes to religion – “truth” is only matter of perspective. If he felt the need to forgive someone, that’s his prerogative.

Let’s not turn this thread into a religious right/wrong true/false flamewar.

#23 Josh McDonald
September/18/2008
@ 4:55 pm

â??Jesus Christ was a community organizer â?? Pontius Pilate was a governor.â?

This is supposed to be a “kill the Christians” statement? Most of the Christians I know are putting it on tee shirts and bumper stickers.

#24 Jeff Kersten
September/18/2008
@ 5:32 pm

A great editorial cartoon is one in which the cartoonist lampoons a partisan notion which, in some cases, is FALSE (this cartoon could serve as a “model” of this attribute), but which neverthless gains traction with a constituency (or contituencies, whether political, social, cultural or religious), mostly as a result of the preconceived notions and uninformed prejudices of the audience who consumes the cartoon, thereby, effectively lampooning also those who don’t see the satire and accept its’ message as truth.

This is one of the finest editorial cartoons I have read in awhile. I’m a Christian, myself, and I love the fact that, though completely false, some critics believe Oliphant’s portrayal of Palin as anti-religion or anti-Christian somehow. First, as it is false — and that’s the POINT — and second, that masses of people believe the message and will use it going forward, prove no obvious affront to Christianity or any other brand of religious belief or faith. I also know that the behavior of “speaking in tongues” is not under any person’s control, which makes the cartoon’s thrust all the more FUNNY, ludicrous and incredible, which is, as I recall, what the cartoonist is supposed to achieve in his work. Bravo, Mr. Oliphant!

#25 Mike Rhode
September/18/2008
@ 5:47 pm

Re: Mr. Lester’s comment – Monty Rohde was the one at comment #10 that you were responding to.

I, Mike Rhode, was the one who posted one of the original cranky blog posts that Alan picked up and quoted. I really don’ t like people demanding apologies for free speech, as the Houston blogger did of the Post, my hometown paper.

I’m really hoping the Ombuds(wo)man doesn’t cave on political cartoons this Sunday.

#26 Cindy Golden
September/19/2008
@ 10:09 am

Leah Daughtry is the CEO of the Democratic National Convention AND the pastor of a Pentecostal church who doesn’t hide the fact that she speaks in tongues and dances at the altar of her church. Where is the controversy about her? You won’t find it among the liberal media or the Democrats, just agains Governor Palin because she’s a Republican conservative. I am NOT criticizing Rev. Daughtry, just pointing out the hypocrisy and double standard of the media. The cartoon is an attempt to smear Governor Palin, and mocks God by showing Him cursing and acting dumb.

Steve S., in answer to your question, Luke 12:10 and Mark 3:29 are verses that state if one blasphemes the Holy Spirit they are in danger of eternal damnation.

#27 Mac McElhannon
September/19/2008
@ 10:33 am

It is not a matter of free speech. There is a higher government. I fear Pat has blasphemed the Holy Spirit for which the bible clearly states there is no forgiveness in this life or the life to come. God is not mocked. You reap what you sow. Oh no Pat, what have you done. Jesus said you can blaspheme me and the father but not the Holy Spirit. Read it for yourself.

#28 Kelly McNutt
September/19/2008
@ 10:52 am

Personally, I don’t see this as mocking God or the Holy Spirit… I see the cartoonist mocking Palin; and not that God doesn’t understand her speaking in tongues, I think the implication is that Palin’s “tongues hotline” isn’t… if you know what I mean. (My four-year-old daughter likes to think that she speaks fluent spanish, when in fact she only knows “please”, “thank you” and can count to ten.) That being said, I think this is one of the klunkier editorial cartoons I’ve seen in a while, needing to have McCain explain what Palin is doing. I suppose you could say that it is used to portray McCain as going along with the idea or something…

#29 Wiley Miller
September/19/2008
@ 11:11 am

“Personally, I donâ??t see this as mocking God or the Holy Spiritâ?¦ I see the cartoonist mocking Palin;”

That’s what I was getting at in wondering why he would need “forgiveness”.

#30 Mac McElhannon
September/19/2008
@ 11:38 am

Wiley, I would wish you were right and that this was all done out of ignorant stupidity but you and I don’t get to make that call and God the just judge looks at the heart. I never could understand how people can be so blind and willfully ignorant. However, no matter what our excuse we are without excuse because the bible teaches that God has put it in our hearts to know what is right.

#31 steve s
September/19/2008
@ 11:52 am

Thanks, Cindy

I was thinking Matthew 12:31-37.

We learn in verse 31 that every sin will be forgiven, except one the blasphemy against the Spirit. But in Christian theology, there are at least four theories about what this might mean.

interesting read:

\http://www.tillhecomes.org/Text%20Sermons/Matthew/Matt%2012%2031-32%20Sermon.htm

#32 Mike Peterson
September/19/2008
@ 11:52 am

“Leah Daughtry is the CEO of the Democratic National Convention AND the pastor of a Pentecostal church who doesnâ??t hide the fact that she speaks in tongues and dances at the altar of her church. Where is the controversy about her? You wonâ??t find it among the liberal media or the Democrats, just agains Governor Palin because sheâ??s a Republican conservative.”

Or, and this is a wacky alternative theory, maybe nobody in the liberal media has ever heard to Leah Daughtry, and she might — just guessing — not be a candidate for vice-president of the United States.

Any number of people accidentally shoot themselves in the leg, but the one who makes the news (and YouTube) is the one who does it in the course of teaching gun safety.

Those who pray on street corners that others might see them pray have their reward — plus the chance to have their choices criticized.

Getting back to the cartoon (this was a discussion about a cartoon, remember?) I haven’t heard that Palin speaks in tongues. I think it’s a misfire because the specifics of her worship have not been a campaign issue. Which is to say, I’d be open to a less paranoid criticism of his choices.

#33 steve skelton
September/19/2008
@ 11:52 am

sorry, I keep forgetting to include my full name.

#34 Alan Gardner
September/19/2008
@ 11:59 am

Well stated Mike P. and thanks for hinting that this thread is about the merits of the cartoon NOT about Pat’s eternal salvation.

#35 Mac McElhannon
September/19/2008
@ 12:14 pm

Wiley, about your earlier comment. God is not a religion. I don’t know why so many don’t seem to understand that. Just like Native Americans are not Indians. Indians are from India. Jesus was anti-religious. It was the religious leaders who had Him killed. Jesus did not come to establish a religion as is clearly stated in the bible. He came to reinstate our relationship with a loving heavenly father. Religion brings death Jesus came to bring life. Alan G. who put you in charge of what this forum should be about?

#36 Alan Gardner
September/19/2008
@ 12:28 pm

Alan G. who put you in charge of what this forum should be about?

Ummm, this is MY blog. I own the domain, pay the hosting fees and get up each morning and post the news for you all to enjoy – with very little compensation. I do it out of LOVE for the art and the respect of those who practice it. In essence, I am the “god” of this here web site and I have made it very clear what this forum should be about. I am a jealous “god” and have very little patience for those who engage in dialog that results in thread hijacking. I have also made it clear what my “commandments” are for those wishing to participate here. It’s linked right at the top of the comment form – surely you read them?

If you want to preach and live your religion I applaud you. The world could use more basic Christian principles of patience and love for EVERYONE. But this is not the forum to speculate on the eternal judgement of others or insinuate that others are “blind” or “willfully ignorant” because they don’t have the same belief system as you.

Thanks.

#37 Sharon Miller
September/19/2008
@ 12:29 pm

The most disappointing aspect of Mr. Oliphant’s cartoon is how well it represents our culture today – dominated by disrespect for our fellow humans. The comments made on this blog thread demonstrate the same attitude and lack of respect. Regardless of religious belief (or non-belief), we have become a society of hateful, spiteful, disrespectful creatures. As for the cartoon, I support freedom of speach and realize Mr. Oliphant is within his legal rights. However, my reaction to his cartoon is offense and sadness – not even the concept of a Holy and gracious God is respected these days. The message is not only disrespectful but it is immature, especially for a man of Mr. Oliphants age and experience.

#38 Wiley Miller
September/19/2008
@ 12:53 pm

“Alan G. who put you in charge of what this forum should be about?”

Yeah, Alan! Who do you think you are? And who said you could sit there in your house while you work on your blog?

#39 Mike Cope
September/19/2008
@ 1:04 pm

“Alan G. who put you in charge of what this forum should be about?”

… I could answer that question, but it’s probably best not to name Names :)

#40 anne hambrock
September/19/2008
@ 1:23 pm

“umm this is my blog”

Thanks Alan, for giving my day the kick it needed!

#41 Mac McElhannon
September/19/2008
@ 1:28 pm

Wiley, The question to Alan G. was a rhetorical question and an idiom. It is difficult on line to give idiomatic expressions. Alan I don’t understand what you mean by “preach and live my religion” I’m not religious. Is preaching a bad thing? I just told you I don’t have a religion. Too many assumptions being forced down peoples throats. Just like people saying they are homosexuals. There is no such thing. Homosexual is an act not a being. You might have to think on that one a while. Also, don’t confuse hating evil with hating people. God may hate the sin but not the sinner. We all need a savior. There is none righteous. Sorry, don’t mean to offend anybody. What I believe is not what matters only the truth. John 8:32, 14:6.

#42 Mike Lester
September/19/2008
@ 1:37 pm

â??Alan G. who put you in charge of what this forum should be about?â?

Who let Joe Biden in here. “Stand up, Mr. McElhannon. Let ’em see ya!”

referenced for the non-news junkies: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRV5Y1JCGRI

#43 Mike Lester
September/19/2008
@ 1:38 pm

actually, that should read

Mr. McElhannon (as Joe Biden): “STand up, Alan, let ’em see you.”

#44 Wiley Miller
September/19/2008
@ 2:14 pm

“Wiley, The question to Alan G. was a rhetorical question and an idiom.”

First of all, why are you addressing me on this instead of Alan?

Secondly, how is, â??Alan G. who put you in charge of what this forum should be about?â? in any stretch of the imagination a rhetorical question?

I’m in great admiration of Alan for the restraint he’s shown in the face of such rudeness.

#45 Mike Lester
September/19/2008
@ 2:23 pm

I think posts like Mr. mcElhannon are immensely entertaining. Don’t dissuade them. It beats Alan and Pastis doing their Chip N’ Dale “oh no, it was I how was in error” routine the other day. XOXO

#46 Leah Barnett
September/19/2008
@ 6:00 pm

What happened to seperation of church and state? Why religion is brought into politics is beyond me. I don’t claim ANY religion and am much happier for it.

But the cartoon is fantastic! Well done, Pat! *smiles*

“Alan G. who put you in charge of what this forum should be about?”

Bwahahahah!!! Some one isn’t paying attention!

#47 frank white
September/19/2008
@ 6:05 pm

Mac , Oliphant has been given a great talent here- to make people laugh and think. Don’t you think people should use their talents? Also it has nothing to do with blasphemy at all. I am a Christian myself but there must be over a hundred different religions at least all over the world. A blasphemy law for one must pertain to offer the same law against blasphemy for the others. Its unworkable , obviously…….why? Because there is just no way to prove in a court of law that any God of any religion exists or doesn’t exist so it really is a case of if you don’t like it , lump it.

#48 Mike Peterson
September/19/2008
@ 6:18 pm

Fergodsake, Alan, it’s an idiom.

I don’t know what an idiom is. I was excused that day for band practice. But I think it’s got to do with “a babbling brook.” At least, I remember that “a babbling brook” was on the final and it had to do with idioms. Or verisimilitude. Or pathetic phallic symbols.

But, whatever it was, you need to be more sensitive, dammit. Wotthehell is wrong with you anyway, huh?

#49 Alan Gardner
September/19/2008
@ 7:14 pm

Comments closed until I can get through the backlog of all the individuals who have put in moderation.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.