Rep. Pitts Praises UPN Affiliate for Principled Stand on Amish Show
Calls on others to follow suit, urges advertisers to think twice
Washington-Congressman Joe Pitts (R, PA-16) today praised Harrisburg, PA UPN affiliate, WLYH UPN15, for refusing to air the reality show "Amish in the City" until it has a chance to prescreen the show's content and consult Amish experts about how the show portrays Amish lifestyle and religious beliefs.
The show would depict Amish youths pared with mainstream youths in an urban setting. Congressman Pitts joined 50
of his colleagues in February to urge UPN executives to cancel the show altogether, contending that the very act of filming the Amish youths violate a central Amish religious conviction - the Ten Commandments' prohibition against graven images. In March, he joined more than 30 of his colleagues in a letter sent to UPN affiliates urging them to not air the series.
"Make no mistake - the very nature of this program is offensive and exploitative," said Congressman Pitts. "The very act of making this show violates a fundamental Amish religious tenet; and asking Amish youth to participate requires them to break it. If you're selling a show based on its participants religious identity, shouldn't you at least respect the religious beliefs of those participants and their families?"
"Our programming decisions are in direct response to our viewers interests," said Matt Uhl, V.P. & General Manager of WHP-CBS 21 and UPN15. " We need to be comfortable that the content of this program is indeed what the network is presenting it to be. We have asked the network for a preview copy of the show and would like to have a screening with our viewers, educators and community leaders. As a part of the Central Pennsylvania community, we are sensitive to the beliefs of our neighbors, it is a responsibility we take very seriously."
"UPN15 has taken a principled and courageous stand. Its request to prescreen the show will help them ensure that the show's content does not offend its viewers beyond its already questionable premise. Other affiliates should follow suit. And advertisers should think twice before attaching their names to a show that offends and potentially degrades a religious community," said Congressman Pitts, who requested last week to preview the show before it airs.
"There is no way around the fact that this series would affect more than 20,000 of my Amish constituents, and may inaccurately portray their beliefs and customs," concluded Congressman Pitts.