Thursday, April 13, 2006

What Channel Would Jesus Watch?

In the past year, the United Church of Christ has developed a very creative series of TV ads that emphasize the openness of their church to all people, especially reaching out to those who have felt rejected or alienated from other churches. One ad shows a church with a bouncer out in front, turning a variety of people away. Another ad shows people in church pews, and then a hand is shown pressing a big red "ejector" button, as a woman with a crying baby goes flying. As the button is pushed again and again, a gay couple goes flying out of their pew, followed by a Middle Eastern looking man, and an old woman with a walker. The ads are very funny and creative, and make an important point. So many churches can make people feel excluded and judged. Doing what they believe Jesus would do, the UCC wants to reach out to just such people. Unfortunately, many broadcast and cable channels have declined to run these ads, giving various lame excuses. Even Logo, a cable channel devoted to lesbian and gay programming, just recently rejected the ads. As a leader of the UCC's program commented, "I guess the idea of gay TV doesn’t really mean it’s your community’s network. It’s just something that’s targeted at you to sell product." Indeed. Fortunately, two other gay and lesbian channels, Here! and Q Network, have both agreed to run the ad as a public service announcement. This gives us some idea of who our real friends are among the cable channels.

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