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Opinions vary
over Logo's rejection of UCC ad

Opinions vary
over Logo's rejection of UCC ad

Ucc_ejection_1

Did Viacom's GLBT network do the right thing in rejecting a pro-gay church's ad on the grounds that it disparages other faiths? Our readers weigh in.

Online debate has raged since April 7, when the United Church of Christ reported that Logo, Viacom's LGBT cable TV network, had rejected its pro-inclusion TV ad. On April 13 MTV Networks, the Viacom division of which Logo is a part, issued its official explanation for the rejection: "MTV Networks does not accept advocacy or religious advertising that appears to disparage any organization, denomination, or individual."

In response to the back-and-forth between the church and the network, The Advocate asked readers to weigh in with their opinions about Viacom's decision not to air the TV spot, known as the "Ejector" ad, because of its depiction of gay and other nontraditional worshipers being forcibly rocketed out of a church's pews. Following is a selection of their responses.

"Logo's stated reason for refusing this ad seems disingenuous, to put it mildly. As they themselves noted in their statement, they've aired films like Trembling Before G-d (which hardly paints a warm-fuzzy picture of Orthodox Judaism) and Latter Days (ditto the Mormons). So what exactly is the problem here? Like most of us, I haven't seen this ad, but every description I've read seems to indicate that it doesn't even mention any specific denomination; it simply portrays a kind of generic, anonymous Christian church. So precisely which 'organization, denomination, or individual' is being 'disparaged' here? The Christian establishment has a lot to apologize for--or should I say repent for?--in the way it's always treated gay people. Check any reliable history book. And it's high time we and our allies (of which Logo evidently isn't one) start saying so. Loudly."

John Michael Curlovich, Pittsburgh, Pa.

"Being a member of a UCC Church, I don't understand why any media outlet would turn down this ad. It is not against any one race, creed, or orientation--if anything, the entire ad (and the two previous ads) says we are open to all people, we don't turn away anyone! If you haven't see the ad, go to www.ucc.org."

Ron Sparks, St. Paul UCC, Corpus Christi, Texas

"Logo is using good judgment by not airing the UCC television ad. Even to the casual observer, the television ad clearly disparages other churches by suggesting that they reject people for a variety of reasons including sexuality. While this may be true of many churches, painting all churches with such a broad brush is a dangerous precedent for the network and for its advertising standards. While many people support the UCC's effort to be more inclusive, the same message could have been communicated effectively without stereotyping all churches. If Logo had allowed this type of advertising to air, it would have opened the door for other organizations to air offensive, disparaging, and stereotypical advertising from groups less inclusive than the UCC. Logo should be thanked for not setting this dangerous precedent."

James Hutchins, Cleveland, Ohio

"I have never, in my 46 years of churchgoing, seen a church with ejector seats (although I have noticed a few bouncers along the way--a little less obvious in their suits and ties or dresses rather than black T-shirts, but bouncers nonetheless). The UCC's new ad is not a documentary of rejection by another church. Rather, it uses a fantasy to get our attention and to represent the feelings of rejection that so many people have experienced in the Christian church as a whole.

"I don't believe that the ad is directed against any other church. Rather, it is directed at all of us who have forgotten Jesus' message of unconditional welcome and extravagant hospitality. My hope is that any church could run these ads, but that won't happen until those churches look at their spoken and unspoken policies about who is welcome to attend worship (or can get in the door, in the case of the physically disabled), who can teach Sunday School, who can lead the congregation, etc. For Christians, this ad is a fitting reminder of the work we all have to do."

The Reverend Karen McArthur, United Church of Christ

"I totally disagree with Logo's decision. If they were truly a gay-oriented channel, with gay interests at their core, they would not have made such a decision. Clearly this is what we get when the big media moguls are in charge and calling the shots."

Ken Pflueger, Simi Valley, Calif.

"Logo should run these ads. If an LGBT-centered network expects the support of the LGBT community, it needs to support institutions that have courageously stood behind our community.

"My partner is an ordained pastor who most recently served a UCC church. Though not a churchgoer myself, I was proud that she was putting her Christian principles to work for a denomination that publicly proclaimed its support of LGBT equality from pulpit to pew. Logo's values need to be reexamined and the decision not to air the ads needs to be reversed."

Carol M. Bresnahan, Ottawa Hills, Ohio

"I could understand the fear of the major networks that made them refuse to air the ads. It made me angry, but with the current climate under Mr. Bush's administration I understood. For Logo to refuse to air the ad is incomprehensilble. Are they a network for the LGBT community?? Apparently they are only after our $$ and don't really care about us at all."

David Whitwood , Sharpsburg, Ga.

"I find it beyond ironic that in the same week that a Baptist-affiliated school in Kentucky has literally ejected a gay student from its campus, Logo refuses to air a paid commercial highlighting this behavior in some religious groups.

"What the UCC ad shows is not an attack but a statement of fact. It is no different than a car company saying, 'Our vehicle outperformed that vehicle in a road test.' It is a sad and dangerous day when we cannot even speak the truth in an ad without it being labeled as attacking another group."

Allan Barger, Palm Springs, Calif.

"So what I'm getting out of [Viacom's statement] is that as long as it's 'advertising,' MTV Networks has one standard. But if it's some foul-mouthed, disrespectful 20-something agnostic, he/she can say anything as long as the audience laughs and keeps buying drinks?

"Is it me, or is this double-standard so obvious it's embarrassing?"

Andrew Godbey, Wichita, Kan.

"I am deeply disappointed by Logo's decision to not run the UCC ad. What in the world is so unacceptable about a church saying their doors are open to everyone? They're not lying. I am an out and proud lesbian member of the UCC. I love my church. The people there have given me the greatest gifts--they have taught me how incredibly important it is to be honest and open with both myself and others. Surely honesty and openness come with a price, but the price of secrecy and hiding has always been higher, in my experience.

"[M]any individuals--hardworking, middle-class, progressive, and accepting folks--took money out of their own pockets, out of their own needs, to make these ads happen. These ads are not paid for by some media giant, not paid for by some rich benefactor or corporate monster who has nothing to lose....

"Surely my letter of opposition means little to the gods in the corporate offices. That's OK, because I know the difference between evil and justice, and knowledge is worth more than the almighty dollar, every time."

Dawn Sorensen

"I think it's very sad that they wouldn't run the ad. I first saw it on either TNT or USA. I almost fell out of the chair laughing. What a brilliant advertisement. Too bad they don't run it on the major networks to wake up some of these supposed 'Christians.' Hopefully, the ad will get more exposure in the very near future. I for one am considering going to a UCC church now. Too bad that a channel 'dedicated' to our point of view won't run something so entertaining and true to life."

Mike Young, Hoboken, N.J.

"I'm not surprised by Logo's decision not to run the UCC commercial. As an avid Logo & Here TV viewer since the launch of GLBT TV, Logo's targeted audience (so it seems) are those GLBT Americans who are considered above-the-line 'status quo.' HereTV's responsive decision to air this campaign is the [reflection] of diversity, change, movement, and corporate responsibility.

"My question to both networks [is], Where are the GLBT images of the largest demographic in the U.S.--Hispanics?"

Joseluis louie Partida, executive producer, Grupo Vida Media

"'MTV Networks does not accept advocacy or religious advertising that appears to disparage any organization, denomination, or individual.' Apparently this also would then include [ads that criticize] hate groups from Nazis to Fred Phelps, et al. This attitude is irresponsible. That the message of hate that may be protected by the First Amendment and advocated by the ACLU is not the issue here. What we have is a policy of business that is using convoluted logic to almost spit in the face of a large portion of their own demographic. It also misses the point of the ad entirely. The ad is promoting inclusion.

"Clearly they [MTV Networks] are more afraid of offending the people who don't watch the channel than they are about catering to those that do.... [This] remains an issue regarding kowtowing to the religious right's power."

Bob Glaser

"First, my mom is a pastor for a UCC church in Illinois. She is a major gay rights supporter--even embarrassing this 33-year-old gay man by wearing buttons that say 'Proud parent of an LGBT' right there in church. My partner, Fausto, and I even prayed during their synod in July when they all voted to accept gay marriage. I live here in L.A. and am going to Chicago tomorrow where I hope to talk even more about this with her....

"My question for her will be this: I can see why some networks such as Logo reject this because I think that if they did accept it then precedent is set for them to accept all ads from religions. What if a Muslim commercial came to them? Because of fairness they would probably have to air it. However, this ad is not negative in any way--it's all-inclusive and all LOVE. It is not putting down one religion, nor is it bashing anything.

"Yet what bothers me the most is that these same decision-makers who reject the ads fill up their airtimes with violence and sex all night long. Most reality shows are way too suggestive with sexual material. THAT is what should be rejected. Dont get me wrong--it's fine for adults (they can make their own choices), but kids are watching--and it's not right....

"I think all we need is time--and things are now falling into the favor of fairness. I think it will mostly come from today's youth.

"Lastly, I love ya, MOM."

Chad Frighetto, Los Angeles

"As I see it, Logo is way out of line, as are the other networks, in refusing to carry the UCC ad. Advertising functions to differentiate brands; indeed, that is its raison d'etre. The networks seem to have no problem when Miller knocks Busch or vice versa. Why in this case?

"Logo seems to be all over the place in censoring, which their refusing the ad is, what goes on TV. For example, in [the movie] Beautiful Thing--which I have seen multiple times--Logo censors/removes the scene where the protagonists are in the gay bar, the Gloucester, where a drag queen admires one of the lads--which might be shocking if Logo didn't devote hours to drag shows. This scene is pivotal as their coming out is sealed and they show their love for each other. Another example is the censorship in [the movie] Latter Days [from which Logo] leaves out scenes which would help in a better understanding of the movie. The question becomes, Can I trust Logo when they present a movie I have not seen?"

Joe W. Hall

"MTV Networks, the parent company of Logo, says they will not accept 'advertising that appears to disparage any organization, denomination, or individual.' How does a message of inclusion disparage anyone? What is Logo afraid of? Other than some closet cases, how many Pat Robertson-type folks are watching Transgeneration or Noah's Arc? (Even though it would do them a world of good!) Who would have thought that CNN would be more friendly and welcoming than Logo? I have the utmost respect for the United Church of Christ for aiming to reach those who have experienced the discrimination and hostility that Logo is currently subjecting to its viewers."

Larry Meade, Washington, D.C.

"I do not believe that it is justified for Logo to reject the United Church of Christ's TV ad. I am a lesbian who grew up in the UCC church, not knowing that they were so supportive of gay people. In a small town, the issue was never really brought up. I was happy when the UCC stepped up support for the LGBT community. Many in the church were not happy, and the church lost lots of members because of their support of the LGBT community. Why would Logo reject an organization that risked so much for our community? I heard on Sirius Satellite Radio that it is because Logo has just cooperated with another church in that making of one of their programs and was playing favorites. I do have Logo, but will be much less likely to support the station due to this."

Chris Keller

"In my opinion--which is one composed having not seen, but only having read about the ad in question--Logo's decision is fine based on the reasoning they have given.

"The ad, as I've read about, depicts patrons being ejected from pews in several churches only to finally discover welcoming arms at the UCC. Though an honest portrayal of the situation in many locations, it doesn't accurately reflect all aspects of faith-based organizations. A lot of local churches, in areas where same-sex partners and families are more common, my own for example, there are many churches willing to accept their same-sex practitioners even if the overall organization they belong to does not.

"I myself turned away from religion as a young boy, before I knew I was homosexual, due to the racism I'd seen whilst growing up in the South. It led me to question the church's practices and beliefs, and to seek out my own. Once I realized that my actually caring about everyone on the same level was only an additional problem to my homosexuality, I turned away completely. I have since met several 'Christians' who share my open love of people, however I have also found myself averse to the concept of 'organized' religion for other reasons.

"In the Amherst, Mass., area where I grew up in particular, many smaller churches or individual parishes are more open toward their same-sex followers. In these you will find our homosexual and lesbian brethren, as well as our heterosexual friends who may be offended by this ad as they will feel it puts a bad light on their own church. As Logo often attracts many other heterosexual viewers, even those not so open-minded, they may also be offended as most-often they don't even realize that having gay friends and voting against gay marriage is OK.

"Though the ad is a very reflective, hard-hitting ad, it is an ad and also a very political and religious one and I can see how MTV Networks, known for its diversity and open acceptance of all lifestyles would feel it inappropriate to air, even on their 'gay' network."

Josh McCusker, Massachusetts

"There's a little bigotry happening when you refuse to broadcast a paid-for, gay-inclusive ad for a church on your network because of 'company-wide standards' and at the same time tout the broadcasting of films like Latter Days and Trembling Before G-d, which also might be offensive to a certain audience. Viacom should think their position over and remember who they are trying to market Logo to. On the other hand...let's not forget that Viacom, especially through MTV, ComedyCentral, Showtime, and the creation of Logo in the first place, has done a whole lot for LGBT visibility in the media over the past years and we have a lot to thank them for!"

W. Schmitt

"I was ready to call up DirecTV and upgrade my programming package so I would receive Logo. But now, after Logo rejected the United Church of Christ's 'Ejector' ad, I have no reason to support Logo. Time after time, liberals have bent over backwards not to offend people with opposing viewpoints. Time after time, conservatives who hate organizations like the ACLU have used liberal policies to bash liberal groups, including the ACLU.

"So I am extremely offended by Logo TV's actions. I have not seen the 'Ejector' ad. As long as it doesn't single out a specific church, there is absolutely no reason why Logo should ban the ad. But even if this ad does specify a church, to me that would not necessarily be a justification to ban it considering what so many of these church groups do to harm gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people every day.

"Why do GLBT companies like Logo work so hard to not offend the haters when the same hate groups trample all over not just our rights, but our lives? I cannot support any organization that buys into this mentality when the people who hate us are never ever concerned about whether they are offending GLBT people."

Dennis Reed, Cedar Park, Texas

"Logo rejecting the UCC ad is no surprise. Viacom is more concerned with losing revenue on its other channels if it runs this commercial. Corporate interests rule instead of the interests of the viewers. This is just another example of how homophobia seethes through businesses that are not gay-owned and the underlying message that we should be grateful for the crumbs we are offered. This is probably also why after a year the programming developed by and for Logo is so lukewarm and lame."

David S Bimbi, Hoboken, N.J.

"I for one totally disagree with the decision not to run the UCC commercial. When I saw the story about the commercial, I looked UCC up online and found a local church. I was looking for an inclusive church and found one. When a television network that serves the GLBT community denies a commercial that stresses inclusivness, something is terribly wrong."

W. Merillat

"I do not agree with Logo's decision. I think their reasoning is suspect: Who appeared to be disparaged? Intolerant Christians? [I] no longer can get Here TV (it was dropped by DirecTV) in my area and am not in one of the big cities to get Q--which isn't doing so well anyway. So I'm stuck with Logo--not my first choice. And now certainly not much of a choice."

Thomas NIchols

"Thursday's statement by MTV Networks, the Viacom-owned parent company of Logo, read, 'MTV Networks does not accept advocacy or religious advertising that appears to disparage any organization, denomination, or individual...' I guess what puzzles me is what in the UCC 'Ejector' ad MTV Networks found to disparage anyone. I've watched the ad several times and for the life of me, I can't see where there's any disparaging image, text, or audio message. Inclusivity is disparaging? Perhaps to those who would exclude someone it would be disparaging. But if one follows that trend of logic, then MTV Networks is disparaging the LGBT community by excluding a commerical ad on inclusivity. Can this get any more twisted?"

Jeffrey Radcliff

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