The liberal-leaning United Church of Christ launched a national TV advertising program Wednesday but said the ads had been rejected at the last minute by CBS and NBC as too controversial.
The 30-second ad highlights the Cleveland-based UCC's welcoming stance toward gays and anyone else who might feel shunned elsewhere. The networks said the ad was too controversial to broadcast because it implied exclusion of gay and lesbian couples by other groups, according to the
According to a written explanation from CBS, the UCC 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 that 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."
The ad was accepted by ABC Family, AMC, BET, Discovery, and TBS, among others, the UCC said. The UCC's 3 1/2-week, $1.7 million campaign, meant to attract new members, will be featured on cable and network TV and could be extended into 2005. The ad shows a muscular bouncer working a rope line outside a handsome but nameless church, deciding who is eligible to enter and worship. "No, step aside, please," he says to two men holding hands.
Across the screen comes the message, "Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we." The final scene shows a woman with her arm around another woman.
"We're doing it because we made a discovery: There are lots of people out there who don't know we exist," said Ron Buford, who is coordinating the program for the 1.3 million-member denomination, down from 1.7 million in 1989. The UCC has 6,000 congregations.