When the popular PBS children’s cartoon “Arthur” chose to present an episode where Arthur and his friends attend their teacher’s same-sex wedding, the local officials of Alabama’s PBS affiliate decided they wouldn’t be airing it on its original run date in May, or any time in the future either. But Alabamans interested in seeing the episode will be able to do so in June at a “reception” for the cartoon couple at a local Methodist church.

The First United Methodist Church in Birmingham feels that a church is a perfect place to hold the viewing, because “weddings take places at churches all the time.”

“[The church] frequently communicates to the community that they are an ‘open place for all,’ and I think this event reflects that statement,” Rachel Morgan, creative director of the event’s co-sponsor, said.

Marc Brown, the creator of “Arthur,” says he’s “really proud” of the episode.

Brown also explained the episode is specifically meant to make children of same-sex couples feel included and represented by the PBS cartoon.

“I don’t want children or people who are different to feel excluded,” he said in an interview. “That’s not the kind of world we want to live in. And we want children to be educated so they can see there’s not just one type of family. Everyone should feel represented. I think we did that with Arthur.”

For their part, Alabama Public Television director, Mike McKenzie, defended the station’s decision not to air the episode based on an interest of the trust parents have in the station when they turn to the channel.

“Parents have trusted Alabama Public Television for more than 50 years to provide children’s programs that entertain, educate and inspire,” McKenzie said of the decision. “More importantly — although we strongly encourage parents to watch television with their children and talk about what they have learned afterward — parents trust that their children can watch APT without their supervision. We also know that children who are younger than the ‘target’ audience for Arthur also watch the program.”

At least, in this case, both government — PBS stations are funded in part by government grants — and private organizations are functioning in their proper role, with the PBS station erring on the side of caution when it comes to young children and a private entity like a local church sponsoring a free event for those interested.

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