Kill da wabbit: Yes, we saw the Easter bunny scourging story

One of the challenges that veteran God-beat reporters face is finding a way to send something new and fresh to their editors during the annual holiday seasons. Now, you could get away with quirky and strange stories during the Christmas season because, you know, that’s a cultural thing. But journalists have tended to play it straight during Holy Week and Easter, along with the heavy seasons in the other world religions. Seen any funny Yom Kippur or Ramadan stories?

With that introduction, let me assure you that numerous readers have sent us copies of the following Associated Press story. Yes, we have seen it. No, we have nothing that we want to say about it, other than what I just said. Clearly, the rules are changing for Holy Week and Easter coverage. Here is a chunk of that AP report from Glassport, Pa.

First, the Passion of the Christ. Now, the torment of the Easter Bunny?

It may not have been as gruesome as Mel Gibson’s movie, but many parents and children got upset when a church trying to teach about Jesus’ crucifixion performed an Easter show with actors whipping the Easter bunny and breaking eggs.

People who attended Saturday’s show at Glassport’s memorial stadium quoted performers as saying, “There is no Easter bunny,” and described the show as being a demonstration of how Jesus was crucified.

Melissa Salzmann, who brought her 4-year-old son J.T., said the program was inappropriate for young children. “He was crying and asking me why the bunny was being whipped,” Salzmann said.
Patty Bickerton, the youth minister at Glassport Assembly of God, said the performance wasn’t meant to be offensive. Bickerton portrayed the Easter rabbit and said she tried to act with a tone of irreverence.

I think we will cut things off at that point. Although, now that I think of it, AP clearly showed restraint in the reporting of this story. Obvious questions remain that journalists would want to know. With what was the wabbit whipped? What color was the bunny suit? Was the bunny in chains?

This blog item is brought to you without art, for obvious reasons.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Bob Smietana

    Can we imagine any Jews or Muslims who have so little sense of decorum that they’d do a funny Yom Kippur or Ramadam story?

    At least the AP had the insight to understand there was something wrong with scourging the Easter Bunny–unlike the folks that put this on.

    Did there used to be some rules about decorum in church Easter services?

    Three cheers for the AP for striking fear into the hearts for anyone who’s knuckled-headed enough to try something like this again.

  • Stephen Huba

    Sounds typical of the Assemblies of God.

  • Stacy L. Harp

    When I read the story about the scourging of the Easter bunny I have to admit that I laughed because I thought it was funny.

    I didn’t think it was funny that this church didn’t consider it might frighten small children, or even offend the people at PETA, but I did think it was funny that someone actually had the guts to beat the bunny.

    I wonder who the brilliant one was that okayed this program! Seriously, is the Pastor that oblivious to the fact that this was going to be controversial – or was that the point so that the church would get some press – even if it was negative press.

    Sometimes I wonder when church leaders will get a clue and realize that the Bible is enough and if they just taught it, in it’s context and expositorily, then people would come and hear the soul saving message of salvation.

  • Chris McElwee

    Kinda ironic that people freak out more of flooging an Easter Bunny rather than man.

  • Jill

    Good grief! Personally, I have no problem with what they did — or at least what the accounts I’ve read tell me. (And I do read between the liberal media lines!) Sounds to me like the church failed to let it be known that the program might not be entirely suitable for small children growing up in “yes, Virgil (as opposed to Virginia) there is an Easter Bunny” homes. It might have been better for the young ones to stay home and have Mom or Dad read to them Harold Myra’s book, “Easter Bunny, Are You For Real?”

  • Jema

    I just don’t get it. What was the point? How does flogging the bunny show that Easter is about Jesus resurrection?

    Plus, now that I’ve read about this on 3-4 blogs, I have the Nezzer bunny song from Rack, Shack, and Benny running through my head! The bunny, the bunny, ooh, they flogged the bunny!!!

  • John Doe

    The church in Glassport has been without a pastor since January. And the accounts that you have read in the press are FAR from accurate. The bunny was not whipped. She was running away from a dance streamer used to represent a whip.

    And there were no easter eggs broken that were to be used for the egg hunt.

    All that said…You’ve gotta wonder where this groups brain was.

  • Kenny

    i wanna see pictures of the priest flogging the bunny man!!!!!!if anyone can find any e mail them to me….

    ~~kenny the rabbit slayer

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