Tuesday's Volunteer Center of Collin County lunch was not the appropriate place for former longtime local TV news anchor John Criswell to make statements about personal religious beliefs, the center's executive director said.
The organization booked Criswell, who spent more than 15 years at WFAA-TV (Channel 8) before moving to Channel 4 in 1990, because he addressed its first lunch 25 years ago and is actively involved in volunteerism in the community, she said.
"I saw some people try to pick their jaw off the floor and other people nodding agreement," she said. "People who volunteer come from every walk of life and every faith. A lot of people do volunteer because of their faith and feel compelled. Volunteerism does involve people who are concerned about something other than their own desires," Thomas said
Criswell's speech offended many, said some long-time volunteers. While one woman approached Criswell with praise, others questioned his speech's content. The agency received one complaint call on Tuesday afternoon.
"This was a time to recognize and congratulate the service of volunteers, not proselytize," said one insider.
Criswell's speech also linked the news media to Satan.
Referring to an earlier linguistic comment that listeners infer, but speakers imply, he added, "Did I just infer that some in the media in America are acting as the tools of Satan? No. Remember, you infer, I imply," he said
Criswell said only one person approached him stating that his speech was offensive to her faith.
" I, of course asked, if her indignation is limited to Christian speakers or she would also complain if the speaker had been open about being Catholic, Jewish, Muslim or atheist," he said in an e-mail. "It was not a pretty moment, but I made my point. It seems these days it is perfectly fine to be anything except openly Christian, and in fact very much in vogue to attack Christians. What a shame that "tolerance" can be so selective."
Mr. Criswell attends the Prestonwood Baptist Church-that, we believe, is the appropriate venue for expressing his very narrow viewopint of faith-not at a general meeting commending volunteerism. We also note that he not only "implies" that some in the media (does he include Fox News?) are tools of Satan and draws a distinction between Christians and Catholics, who, in his world, must not be Christian, but are lumped in with the other non-Christian religions.