2004-12-01

Networks Bar Inclusive Church Ads

Hat tip: Ginmar

As Ginmar says, "an ad that really does promote the best religion has to offer." Two major broadcast networks, CBS and NBC, are refusing to air a 30-second TV spot by the United Church of Christ because the ad is "too controversial". The UCC's sin? Declaring that it welcomes gay people.

According to this bulletin from Worldwide Faith News,
The ad, part of the denomination's new, broad identity campaign set to
begin airing nationwide on Dec. 1, states that -- like Jesus -- the United
Church of Christ (UCC) seeks to welcome all people, regardless of ability,
age, race, economic circumstance or sexual orientation.

According to a written explanation from CBS, the United Church of Christ is
being denied network access because its ad implies acceptance of gay and
lesbian couples -- among other minority constituencies -- and is,
therefore, too "controversial."

"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other
minority groups by other individuals and organizations," reads an
explanation from CBS, "and the fact the Executive Branch has recently
proposed a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as a union between a
man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast on the [CBS and
UPN] networks."


There are several things to pay attention to here, particularly in CBS' muddled "explanation" of why it rejected the ad. Apparently the ad is too "controversial" because it "implies acceptance of gay and lesbian couples". Or is it because it "touches on the exclusion of gay couples ... by other individuals and organizations"? Oh, wait, that's not it either. It's because "Executive Branch has recently proposed a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman"!

This is precisely why marriage ultimately becomes a church/state issue. I have argued elsewhere that the Government should not concern itself with defining what "marriage" is and is not, and should instead provide comprehensive and uniform civil-union legislation for all couples. Here we have an example of what happens when the Government (in this case, the Bush administration) voices an opinion on a religious issue.

Notice that President Bush's words on gay marriage have not become law - they didn't have to, for CBS to invoke the Bush administration's words on marriage. While the President did not intend to prevent the airing of this particular religious message, his stated position on the marriage issue provided the network with a pretext for its decision.

Dreams Into Lightning readers are aware that this blog supports President Bush, and specifically his bold foreign policy initiatives in the Middle East. That will not change. However, I've also said that I am strongly critical of some aspects of the President's domestic policy, and this is why. I urge all readers who support marriage equality to write to President Bush, CBS, and NBC to protest this decision and the political statements that were invoked in its defense.

Finally, it's important to note that most networks did choose to run the ad:
The ad has been accepted and will air on a number of networks, including ABC Family, AMC, BET, Discovery, Fox, Hallmark, History, Nick@Nite, TBS, TNT, Travel and TV Land, among others.

Yes, you read that right ... Fox ran the ad.