February 14th, 2008 07:12 EST
ESPN Gets It
Bristol, CT -- The Christian Defense Coalition and the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission believe this will be a positive first step in helping build a faith-friendly culture in America's workplace.
ESPN issued the public statement after faith groups lead a series of demonstrations outside of ESPN's corporate headquarters and conducted lengthy conversations with ESPN executives on the issue of religious tolerance.
The demonstrations and dialogue were in response to Dana Jacobson, an ESPN host, using the phrase "F--k Jesus" at an officially sponsored ESPN workplace event in Atlantic City, New Jersey this past January.
As the discussions moved forward there were two critical issues the faith groups remained firm on. The first was that ESPN would sponsor a workplace seminar on religious diversity and tolerance. (Which they have never had in their over 30 year history.) Next, they would treat the negative use of "Jesus Christ" or the expression "G-d D--n" the same way they would respond to the use of the "N" word or other hateful language in the workplace.
Here is ESPN's Statement:
"Diversity and communications are important to ESPN and we have existing programs in place for both. To bring focus to the issues of religious tolerance and language as part of these efforts is totally appropriate and we will do so.
"With regard to language in the workplace, we do not have a list of forbidden phrases, but we do require appropriate workplace behavior. We will raise the profile of this issue as part of our internal dialogue and will be emphasizing to employees the importance of using language that is appropriate in the workplace."
Dr. Gary Cass, President of the Christian Anti- Defamation Commission, responds, "Working to create a workplace that is 'faith friendly' is a step in the right direction and I commend ESPN for their promise to do so. We hope this can help foster a further conversation about religious tolerance that can elevate our public discourse and reclaim a proper respect towards the religious convictions of others.
"Don Wildmon of the American Family Association, one of America's largest Christian activist organizations, is also appreciate of the good news and will not move forward with any national boycott campaign."
Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, comments, "Religious intolerance and discrimination should have no place in the American workplace. Employees should feel that their faith traditions, beliefs and value systems will be respected and honored. Just as no one should feel like a 'second-class' citizen because of their race or gender, so no employee should feel discriminated against or uncomfortable because of religious intolerance and hateful speech in the workplace.
"ESPN has taken a powerful first step toward building a culture of religious tolerance and we applaud them for that. By making a first time commitment to include religious tolerance in their diversity programs, ESPN is sending a clear signal that religious discrimination has no place at their network. ESPN has also recognized that the use of certain religiously offensive words and phrases must not be tolerated and their use is inappropriate.
"Our hope and prayer is that a national conversation will now begin on religious tolerance in the workplace and that other companies will follow ESPN's lead and work to build a 'faith friendly' environment for their employees.
"I would personally like to thank the fine work of ESPN vice-president of communications, Mike Soltys, as he spent countless hours in helping craft this public statement."
For more information or interviews call:
Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney at 540.538.4741
Dr. Gary Cass 954.551.9770