Evangelist Pat Robertson charged today that a children's puppet show featured simulated oral sex during a performance last week at an Atlanta arts festival allegedly subsidized by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Robertson's claims were vigorously denied by the NEA, the Georgia state arts council and puppeteer Jon Ludwig of Atlanta.
"This is just the latest example of the continual distortion of fact by the arts endowment's most virulent critics, those intent on eliminating the agency at any cost, even that of the truth," said chief NEA spokesman Jack Lichtenstein.
Robertson said the puppet show, performed at the Atlanta Arts Festival on Friday before 800 people, including children, featured "approximately five minutes of simulated foreplay between two puppets followed by an exhibit of oral sex acts."
Robertson, a 1988 presidential candidate, said his Christian Coalition in Chesapeake, Va., responded by generating 27,000 petitions demanding that the NEA be abolished and sending them Tuesday to every member of Congress.
Lichtenstein and Frank Ratka, the council's executive director, denied that any NEA funds went to the festival.