Kids Share Their Views on Belief in Nick News with Linda Ellerbee, "Freedom to Believe...Or Not," Premiering Sunday, April 17, on Nickelodeon
NEW YORK, April 6, 2011 - The First Amendment to the Constitution was intended to prevent there ever being one official American religion. Most Americans are Christian, however, and according to a Pew Research Center poll, 67 % of Americans believe this is a Christian nation. Officially. Kids from across the country share their views on this divisive topic in the premiere of Nick News with Linda Ellerbee, "Freedom to Believe... or Not," Sunday, April 17, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT) on Nickelodeon. The half-hour special also features commentary from Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcast Network and host of The 700 Club, and Barry Lynn, the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
"For some kids, the freedom to believe has become truly personal," said Ellerbee. "There are kids caught in a crossfire of belief in communities where to be different is to be scary. There are kids who are atheists, who endure discrimination and sometimes persecution, although they have the right not to believe in a god. And there are kids who say that it's not about what you believe, but the rights of other people to believe what they believe."
Salim, a 14-year-old Muslim living in Murfreesboro, Tenn. is one of three Muslims in his school. The mosque he and his family attend would like to expand, but there has been opposition and it has turned violent. Salim feels the people who oppose the mosque oppose his religion, and, therefore, his rights as a citizen.
In Auburn, Ala., Duncan, 14, is an atheist looking to start a free-thinking group at school. While Duncan doesn't want anything more than the school's Christian groups have, he and his friends can't find a single teacher willing to sponsor their group.
While people have gone to war over religion since the beginning of time, at Interfaith Action, Inc., a group of 80 diverse teens from Sharon, Mass., are going to "peace" over religion. The group describes itself an organization that works to bring together people of different faiths and religions. Among the members are Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Atheists. Says one of the kids, "We take negative discussions about religion and make them positive."
Nick News, produced by Lucky Duck Productions, enters its 20th year in 2011 and is the longest-running kids' news show in television history. It has built its reputation on the respectful and direct way it speaks to kids about the important issues of the day. Over the years, Nick News has received more than 20 Emmy nominations and recently won its eighth Emmy Award for The Face of Courage: Kids Living with Cancer for Outstanding Children's Nonfiction Program. Additional Emmy wins for outstanding children's programming include: Coming Home: When Parents Return from War (2009); The Untouchable Kids of India (2008); Private Worlds: Kids and Autism (2007); Never Again: From the Holocaust to the Sudan (2005); Faces of Hope: The Kids of Afghanistan (2002) and What Are You Staring At? (1998). In addition, in 1995, the entire series won the Emmy. In 2009, Nick News was honored with the Edward R. Murrow Award for best Network News Documentary for Coming Home: When Parents Return from War � the first-ever kids' television program to receive this prestigious award. Nick News has also received three Peabody Awards, including a personal award given to Ellerbee for explaining the impeachment of President Clinton to kids, as well as a Columbia duPont Award and more than a dozen Parents' Choice Awards.
Nickelodeon, now in its 32nd year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The company includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, online, recreation, books and feature films. Nickelodeon's U.S. television network is seen in more than 100 million households and has been the number-one-rated basic cable network for 16 consecutive years. Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA - News, VIA.B - News).