Two leaders of the Religious Right came to a remarkable conclusion last month: The abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers came from watching too much MTV.
MTV is a cable channel that carries popular music videos and "reality television" programs aimed at teenagers and young adults.
MTV came under fire from Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship and a longtime Religious Right warhorse. Colson, an ex-convict who became a born-again Christian while serving time for felonies related to the Watergate scandal, made the assertion during a pastors' briefing in Washington sponsored by the Family Research Council.
In a May 12 e-mail message to supporters, FRC President Tony Perkins re-capped the event, observing, "As Chuck Colson pointed out at yesterday's Pastors' Briefing, when you mix young people who grew up on a steady diet of MTV and pornography with a prison environment, you get the abuse at Abu Ghraib."
Perkins also accused "the liberal media" of using the photos "in an effort to damage the Bush Administration."
The torture and sexual humiliation of detained Iraqis at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq has become a national scandal. Pictures of the inmates being abused and forced to simulate sexual acts have galvanized anti-American opinion in many Middle-Eastern countries and heightened criticism of the Bush administration's handling of the war.
In a press statement, Perkins asserted, "As a former police officer who spent time working inside the prison system, I am saddened but not surprised at some of the abuse I've seen in these photos. But what is surprising and what should shock our nation's conscience is that these U.S. soldiers took photos and home-made pornography of the abuse as 'trophies' for their actions."
The remarks by Colson and Perkins drew derision from Americans United. The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, issued a press statement asserting, "This is one of the stupidest things said about the Abu Ghraib scandal to date. Seeing Colson and Perkins stoop this low should not really surprise me, but I'm disappointed at their lack of imagination. Surely they could have found some way to blame the scandal on same-sex marriage, Bill Clinton or activist judges. Blaming every horrible thing that happens on MTV is SO '80s."
Other speakers at the FRC event included Bishop Wellington Boone of the Promise Keepers, TV preacher D. James Kennedy, U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), U.S. Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) and the Rev. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life.