Jesus wouldn’t turn away SpongeBob Squarepants, and neither does the UCC. Rev. John H. Thomas, general minister and president of the United Church of Christ, gave warm welcome to SpongeBob yesterday — as well to as Barney, Big Bird, Clifford, the long-banished Tinky-Winky, and anyone else who had “experienced the Christian message as a harsh word of judgment rather than Jesus’ offering of grace.” For real. Just before the world teeters fatally towards the absurd, Thomas delivers the moral: because James Dobson, who launched the attack on SpongeBob, regularly gets headlines for his “outrageous” accusations, it’s crucial for the UCC to “‘speak the Gospel in an accent not often heard in our culture, because far too many experience the cross only as judgment, never as embrace.'”