CBS, NBC, and UPN Major broadcast TV networks have refused to run an uncontroversial Christian ad campaign that emphasizes the United Church of Christ’s welcome to all people, including gays. (The ad has been accepted by a handful of cable networks, including ABC Family.)


"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."

Similarly, a rejection by NBC declared the spot "too controversial."

"It’s ironic that after a political season awash in commercials based on fear and deception by both parties seen on all the major networks, an ad with a message of welcome and inclusion would be deemed too controversial," said the Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC’s general minister and president. …

"We find it disturbing that the networks in question seem to have no problem exploiting gay persons through mindless comedies or titillating dramas, but when it comes to a church’s loving welcome of committed gay couples, that’s where they draw the line," says the Rev. Robert Chase, director of the UCC’s communication ministry.

UCC blogger Chuck Currie is helping mount a protest against the ad rejection. Currie sees the networks’ action as a threat to religious freedom.

Insofar as some major media groups decline to air religious viewpoints unless they are antigay or have the approval of the religious right, I agree that religious freedom is an issue here.

More links:

Gay spirituality blogger Joe Perez writes a letter to Viacom, threatening a boycott of CBS and UPN.

Human Rights Campaign press release

GLAAD‘s pragmatic request of CBS and UPN

The Boston Globe quotes numerous critics of the ad rejection

From the Religious Liberal Blog:

It’s odd that that a news network openly states that it takes it’s
orders from Bush’s policy goals. This episode points to the difficulty
of geting a liberal protestant view into the public arena these days.

Camassia has mixed feelings about churches airing ads criticizing other churches

Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) examines Viacom’s history of shifting rationalizations for barring ads that, indirectly, expose CBS’s "arrogant" and narrowminded news coverage

Nationally syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts, who is a UCC member

Chuck Currie reports that Oregon affiliates of CBS and NBC may opt to air the ad

Quaker Ranter Martin Kelley collects more links

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