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The UCC ad: A defense of the networks.

 
 
Reply Sat 4 Dec, 2004 03:47 pm
For those who have not heard the deafening criticism of the refusal of networks to air United Church of Christ (UCC) ads on television, a link is here.

http://www.christianpost.com/article/church/1693/section/sbc_and_ucc_debate_controversial_church_ad/1.htm


I think the networks are right.

In spite of the wave of condemnation and handwringing about censorship and political bias, I am going to break with my colleagues on the left and question the current hysteria.

Declining to show these ads was certainly a fair decision, and quite probably the right decision.

1) The ad in question is controversial. Sure it iss clever, but the basic message is clear-- the UCC accepts gays-- other churches don't.

The fact is that homosexuality, especially homosexuality in religion, is a very controversial subject. In our diverse society, we need to accept that there are deeply held disagreements over these issues.

These ads will upset people.

2) These are commercial television networks. People normally watch these networks for entertainment, not to have their deeply held religious and politcal beliefs challenged.

Further more the networks (being commercial) are businesses trying to make a profit. Running ads that will offend a segment of their viewers is not a reasonable expectation. This is not their role nor their responsibility.

I am all for offending people with my political views. There are plenty of forums for public discourse (A2K for example) where challenging political and religious beliefs (and having one's beliefs challenged) is expected and appropriate.

But commercial television advertisements are neither effective, nor appropriate for this purpose. Ads come at you, in your face, while you are intentionally watching something else. I consider ads that offend me in my own living room while I am watching the Simpsons really inappropriate.

----
Many people are accusing the networks of hypocrisy since they ran Swift Boat ads et. al. (and refuse the UCC ads). I don't think the comparison appropriate (although I would have not been upset if the Swift Boat ads were refused as well).

First the Swift Boat ads were political ads, during a political season. I thought they were stupid and perhaps even offensive, but they weren't attacking any of my religious or moral beliefs.

For a better comparison, imagine a truly similar ad from the CCU (a hypothetical conservative church).

Quote:

An "unamed church" is shown with a revolving door. A young family with a clean-cut father, "pretty" mother in a dress and cute innocent 7 year old girl are standing outside watching.

Through the revolving door people who look like drug-users, and glam-rockers (including two men holding hands enter, and then leave looking the same, as the mom tries to cover the girls eyes.

The anouncer ends saying: "The Bible has standards, so do we".


Should the networks be able to refuse this ad?

To those who condemn the networks, I ask... do you really think that commercial television is the place to promote controversial values? I fear that people are coming down against the networks solely because this time the issue supports their own values.

In a pluralistic society, this makes me uncomfortable.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 1,207 • Replies: 21
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RfromP
 
  1  
Reply Sat 4 Dec, 2004 05:16 pm
I really don't think that the networks have a problem with offending people. I think the problem lies with how many people could be offended. For instance the ads for erectile dysfunction don't bother me but the commercial with "Bob" and his "wood" is loaded with innuendo not suitable to be seen by children and quite frankly uncomfortable when watching TV with female relatives. Are there that many people affected by this that there are three different companies advertising their product? I'm sure someone somewhere is offended. Not as many as the UCC ad has the potential to offend which is why I believe the networks are staying away from it.

And since we're on the subject (were we?) I could do without the "take our pill and make your Johnson bigger" commercials. If anyone thinks that their member will get larger from taking a pill then they should be parted with their money.

I'd love to hear the female perspective on this. Do women really want some horny old goat chasing them around with a bottle of pills and a *ahem*...well you know.
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Sat 4 Dec, 2004 05:24 pm
I think I'd feel better making a judgment if I could actually see the commercial. Is it on the web?

BTW, I find some of those ads RfromP mentions bordering on soft porn, and I often change the channel if they come on when my kids are around. Of course, I feel the same way about yeast infection medication commercials.
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Joe Republican
 
  1  
Reply Sat 4 Dec, 2004 07:08 pm
It's just more political manipulation by our govenment forcing mainstream media to promote their agenda. Well, I shouldn't say our government, but when the media spends so much to get Bush elected, then they're the government by extension. Gee, what a county.
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ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Sat 4 Dec, 2004 07:25 pm
Duck,

As Jesus said, "Ask and ye shall receive."

http://www.stillspeaking.com/default.htm
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JustWonders
 
  1  
Reply Sat 4 Dec, 2004 09:02 pm
I agree with RfromP and Freeduck. The thing is, I've seen the ad and found it not offensive in the least.

RfromP is spot on in saying that the networks don't give a fig whom they offend. There are commercials that literally make my skin crawl and like Freeduck said, some border on soft porn and aren't suitable for children.

I think any church that welcomes "everyone" should be able to advertise it - wherever they want.
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husker
 
  1  
Reply Sat 4 Dec, 2004 09:10 pm
it's fine in my opinion - how is it going to offend?
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DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Sat 4 Dec, 2004 10:29 pm
Re: The UCC ad: A defense of the networks.
ebrown_p wrote:
1) The ad in question is controversial. Sure it iss clever, but the basic message is clear-- the UCC accepts gays-- other churches don't.

The fact is that homosexuality, especially homosexuality in religion, is a very controversial subject. In our diverse society, we need to accept that there are deeply held disagreements over these issues.

These ads will upset people.


NBC is fine running a sitcom about homosexuals... why do they think an advertisement with homosexuals is going to get people upset with them? I guess when NBC is the one making the money then it's OK....
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revel
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Dec, 2004 12:22 am
Good point about NBC.

I think it is just the result of the current trend that is going on in this country. Hopefully it will not last.
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ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Dec, 2004 07:17 am
NBC is a commerical network. It is completely appropriate for them to be worried about their bottom line-- advertisers and marketshare. Of course they are worried about who they offend.

How else do you explain their actions? As you pointed out NBC runs a sitcom about homosexuals. Isn't this evidence that there isn't institutional homophobia in the networks?

What are you all accusing NBC of? Are you really saying they aren't making a business decision about who will be offended by what some people clearly think a controversial ad?

Come on. This ad broaches an especially touchy subject. Many Christians feel that homosexuality is a sin. This is a thorny subject in religious circles. I think I am right in saying that a significant portion of people in our society find the issue of gays in church very upsetting.

This ad is basically saying "We include homosexuals in our church. Other churches don't."

This issue devisive than same sex marriage. In a marriage the two people involved are making a choice to be together that is nobody else's business.

People form a church community around deeply held beliefs. Many people rightfully believe that the Bible proscribes homosexuality. The the inclusion of homosexuals in a Christian church directly challenges a view of what it means to be Christian.

I am not saying this is a bad thing. I am only saying that this crosses a line that a commericial network has a valid reason to avoid.

And, a sitcom is different. If I don't want to watch a sitcom about homosexality, I will see it in my TV guide and plan my viewing around programs that I consider appropriate for me an my family.

Religiously and Politically charged ads are a different story. If I don't want my family to see them, my choice is to avoid the network altogether.
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Dec, 2004 01:05 pm
Ok, now that I've seen the ad, I will offer my useless opinion. I think that it is only controversial in the sense that it implies that there are churches that are actively excluding, not just gays, but people of ethnic diversity. It could be seen by a certain large group of people to be an accusation of racism and intolerance pointed at them.

I said on another thread that I thought CBS's only excuse was that it was still feeling the heat of the Dan Rather/forged documents debacle and couldn't risk being further accused of being a 'liberal' network. I don't think NBC has any excuse.

I think this is probably the only time I've ever disagreed with ebrown, but I do disagree on this one. It is an advertisement for this specific church and if other religious people are offended then they are free to avoid or even challenge the UCC. I just feel like it steps into censorship. I know they have that right -- as it's their network -- but I don't think it's right.
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ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Dec, 2004 01:14 pm
FreeDuck wrote:
It is an advertisement for this specific church and if other religious people are offended then they are free to avoid or even challenge the UCC. I just feel like it steps into censorship. I know they have that right -- as it's their network -- but I don't think it's right.


Would you make this statement about an issue you disagreed with?

Let me try a plausible hypothetical ad...

What if a pro-life church put a similar advertisement with the tag-line "Jesus valued life, and so do we" (with the implication that other churches didn't value life). Would a network be justified to decline this ad?

Would you really defend this principle-- politically charged ads for churches shouldn't be "censored" -- in all circumstances?
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ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Dec, 2004 01:18 pm
and.. thanks for the compliment, Duck.

Having any group of people with whom I always agree makes me uncomfortable that I may be losing my ability to think independently.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Dec, 2004 01:36 pm
I work with a small crew - 10 people. Of these 10 one man is a devout Christian.

He left his church recently because they were encouraging members to vote in favor of the state's proposed ammendment to ban gay marriage.

He is not gay but he was uncomfortable with their polictics of exclusion.

He is currently looking for another church to attend.

Perhaps the information in the UCC ad would have led him to their church - serving both of their purposes. They would have found a new member and he would have found a church where he felt welcome to worship.

I imagine that there are a lot of people like "Joe".

I've heard a lot of people say that they think the ad was a publicity stunt - that they knew it would be rejected. I chose to think that they know there are a lot of Christians who are in crisis because they feel rejected by their church.
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ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Dec, 2004 01:46 pm
Boomerang, there are folks moving in the opposite direction as well.

Why We Are Leaving the Episcopal Church

The acceptance of homosexuality in churches is a very contentious issue. People feel very strongly on both sides. The fact that this is religion makes it even less appropriate for commericial television.

It seems clear to me that if allow one side of a contentious issue to express itself, you should allow the other side as well.

So I ask again, would you support the equivalent advertisement that expressed the other side of the issue?

Do you really want this debate to take place with ads on network television? Or are you asking that only the side you agree with be given a voice on this platform.
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dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Dec, 2004 01:51 pm
businesses, like UCC, Mormons, Baptists or NBC are always seeking new consumers, provacative advertising often is the means.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Dec, 2004 02:05 pm
I don't really have a "side".

I think it is common knowledge that homesexuals are unwelcome in many churchs. They don't really need to advertise it but if they want to -- why not?

I don't find your example about "Jesus valued life and so do we" offensive at all.

The UCC on the other hand is pointing out information that separates them from many demoninations.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Dec, 2004 05:16 pm
Oh gosh.

The person who wrote that letter is with "Regeneration Ministries". Their mission statement: Regeneration is a Christian ministry of healing and support for men and women wanting to overcome homosexual brokenness. Our message is that an individual is not born a homosexual, but security in our gender identity is a complex developmental process, influenced by many factors: spiritual, emotional, and biological. The transformed lives of our members give witness to the life-changing power of Jesus Christ. Our endeavor is to help those who need to obtain a firm Christian foothold when first emerging from a homosexual identity.

Seeing as how the Episcipalians are letting in all those sexually "broken" people I can understand why he felt he had to leave.

Still, if he wants to advertise his ministry on television with that message I think he should go for it. I would love to see if his ad is accepted or rejected.
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ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Dec, 2004 07:16 pm
Quote:

Still, if he wants to advertise his ministry on television with that message I think he should go for it. I would love to see if his ad is accepted or rejected.


If you would support both "Regeneration Ministries" and the UCC running ads on network television-- that means that you would feel as upset about the networks rejecting one as the other -- then I respect your position (although I feel there are better forums for this debate than network television). It is wrong to allow one side of a controversial political and religious issue to advertise while denying the other side.

There are many Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin. Their decision to worship in churchs that teach this belief

Is this a valid religious belief? That is a question for each person, and each church to decide. But there are many Americans who feel this way.

I feel strongly that we should be especially sensitive to religious issues in a pluralistic society. Pluralism doesn't mean we always will agree, but it means that we need to treat differences in beliefs, even beliefs we disagree with, with civility and respect.

The networks understand this, perhaps because they have a financial motivation to understand, but they understand.

I think understanding in society at large is a good thing.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Dec, 2004 09:00 pm
I find the whole thing and the reactions to it interesting. Back during the 2003 Superbowl there was a commercial run by "The Council for a Drug Free America" or some such group and in that commercial there was a girl (late teens), a recovering drug addict, that made a comment that she was glad she "made the decision that allowed me to keep my baby".

The comment (supposedly) was intended to mean that the child could have been taken away from her if she had continued to use drugs and that the decision was to quit using drugs but the ad was roundly criticised by pro-choice groups because they claimed that she was pushing a pro-life political view. When they complained the networks refused to run the ad any more.

The two spots seem to be very parallel to me. The only difference is that the 1st ad actually ran once. This one had certinaly gotten more publicity.
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