Saint Mary's College Associate Professor Barbara McGraw was quoted in an opinion article in the St. Petersburg Times. The article focused on an attack against Nickelodeon's monster hit SpongeBob SquarePants by powerful evangelical minister James Dobson. His grievance began when the popular cartoon character appeared in a pro-tolerance video circulating among elementary schools by a group that includes sexual identity in a tolerance pledge on its Web site.

McGraw, author of the book "Rediscovering America's Sacred Ground: Public Religion and Pursuit of the Good in a Pluralistic America" and an expert in the friction between the religious right and secular left, says she sees a significant message in Dobson's criticisms.

"Dobson says words such as tolerance and diversity are code words for a kind of pro-gay agenda some parents don't agree with," said McGraw, noting carefully that she doesn't agree with the minister's assertions.

"You're not going to have millions of people following something that is completely stupid...and there is a legitimate point about parents raising their children according to the values they have," she added. "One of (Dobson's) key points is that liberals are using buzz words to promote an agenda that goes beyond race and religion. The mainstream media need to be sensitive to that."

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