LOGO, a TV channel catering to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, is among the cable networks rejecting a pro-gay advert by the United Church of Christ’s.
A Viacom-owned network, LOGO is operated by MTV, which states that its standards and practices could not accept the UCC’s 30- second commercial “because of the political nature of its content,” according to a sales associate’s e-mail response on March 30.
When asked for an official reason, MTV Networks responded, “Our guidelines state we will not accept religious advertisements that may be deemed as disparaging to another religion.”
Ron Buford, director of the UCC’s Stillspeaking Initiative, says the 1.3-million-member denomination’s four-year identity campaign was created after focus group testing revealed the depth to which people felt alienated or rejected by organized religion. The church’s new “ejector” ad uses humor to convey the message, “God doesn’t reject people. Neither do we.”
Buford insists that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons are among those most in need of a welcoming, affirming Christian message, one that the UCC is wanting to share.
“I guess the idea of gay TV doesn’t really mean it’s your community’s network,” Buford told United Church News. “It’s just something that’s targeted at you to sell product.”
On April 6, the UCC’s media action website launched a letter-writing campaign to LOGO executives, urging them to rethink their decision.
“Viacom’s refusal to air this new commercial is an example of an apparent policy that fails to allow for a full range of religious expression in the United States,” the action alert reads.
The “ejector” commercial begins with a shot of an African- American mother trying to calm a crying baby. Sitting in a church pew, the mother fidgets anxiously, as she endures disapproving looks from fellow worshippers. Eventually, someone in the wings pushes an “ejector” button to rid the church of her — and her noisy baby. Into the air they go flying.
In similar fashion, a gay couple, an Arab-American, a person using a walker, among others, get “ejected.” Finally, when a poor, shabbily-dressed person wanders in and takes a seat, nervous parishioners — expecting she’ll get the boot for sure – scoot away from her.
The commercial ends with a mood shift, where shots of diverse, friendly people set the stage for the announcer’s invitation: “The United Church of Christ — no matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you’re welcome here.”
17 broadcast and cable networks have rejected the “ejector” ad, but it has been accepted and is running during April on several others.