LeVar Burton, of Roots fame, made a devilish remark about the Catholic Church on the TV show, “Politically Incorrect.” On the February 10 episode of the talk show, Burton delighted the live audience when he quipped, “I can say with conviction that the Roman Catholic Church is evil.”
After Burton made this remark, the show’s host, Bill Maher, tried to give him an out and Burton only half took it. He said what he meant was that it was the sisters he was exposed to in elementary school that were the real problem.
The league was incensed with Burton’s comment and let the show’s producer and Burton’s book publisher know it. In the end, it was Burton to whom we wanted to express our outrage. We did.
On February 27, Burton called Dr. Donohue. Quite unlike Jay Leno, Burton was aggressively defensive about what he said. When pressed, Burton remarked that what he meant to say was that religion has caused a great deal of harm in world history.
Donohue’s rejoinder was that Burton is a lousy communicator as that was not even close to what he said. Donohue, who first took issue with the inaccuracy of Burton’s clarification, wanted to know why his religion was singled out for scorn. He said to Burton, “If I went on TV and I said that African Americans have some real problems, and then you called me for a explanation, I don’t think you’d buy it if I said that what I really meant is that all races have problems.”
Donohue then said that he hadn’t heard what he wanted to hear. Being more explicit, he said he wanted an apology. Burton retorted, “You haven’t heard that,” to which Donohue answered, “no.” At was at this point that Burton rendered his apology.