ARLINGTON, VA—In a controversial new episode of educational cartoon Arthur, PBS showed the eponymous character's teacher, Mr. Ratburn, coming out as a conservative Christian.
The episode kicked off the show's latest season. In an emotional ceremony that all the kids attend, Ratburn gets baptized at a local conservative Baptist church, publicly giving his life to the Lord Jesus. The children applaud for his decision, bravely coming out as a Christian in the public school system, and on a public television station no less.
"It just seemed like the natural next step for us as a kids' show," said one writer of the controversial episode. "Children get to see this man living out his truth in a hostile environment, even though he'll probably lose his job and his reputation for this brave step." Writers said they originally planned on having Mr. Ratburn come out as a gay man but wanted something that actually would go against the zeitgeist and take some real bravery for a public school teacher. "The gay thing would have worked, sure, but it's a little cliche," they said.
"There's no real hostility there," they added.
Ratburn is then seen lecturing the children on the importance of traditional Christian values, the students' need for a savior, and the Earth being only 6,000 years old.