Church's Pro-'Gay' Ad Ejected by LOGO Network

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:05 PM EDT

( - The United Church of Christ is urging a television cable network that caters to homosexuals to rethink its decision not to air their pro-homosexuality ad.

LOGO, a Viacom-owned network operated by MTV, rejected the UCC ad because of its "political nature," according to a sales associate's e-mail response on March 30. When asked for an official reason, MTV networks said: "Our guidelines state we will not accept religious advertisements that may be deemed as disparaging to another religion."

In response, UCC's media action website launched a letter-writing campaign to LOGO executives on Thursday asking them to reconsider airing the ad. "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 woman, seated in a church pew, trying to calm her crying baby. The mother receives disapproving looks from fellow worshippers, and then someone in the wings pushes an "ejector" button to remove her and her baby from the church. They go flying into the air.

Then a homosexual couple, an Arab-American, a person using a walker, and others are "ejected" in a similar manner. Finally, a poor, shabbily-dressed person walks in and takes a seat next to nervous parishioners, who are sure she'll get the eject button too, so they scoot away from her.

The commercial ends with shots of diverse, friendly people who 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."

Ron Buford, director of the UCC's Stillspeaking Initiative, said the ad campaign was created in response to a focus group which revealed how some people feel alienated or rejected by organized religion. The "ejector" ad used humor to convey the message that "God doesn't reject people. Neither do we," he said.

Buford said the homosexual community is most in need of a welcoming, affirming Christian message, which the UCC wants 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."

Although his church's ad was rejected by LOGO, Buford was honored last November by the LOGO network and OUT Magazine for being among "the Top 100 most interesting, influential and newsworthy LGBT individuals." Also included on that list is UCC General Minister and President John H. Thomas as a significant heterosexual ally.

The ad is running during April on at least 17 broadcast and cable networks, including: A&E, AMC, BET, CNN, Lifetime, TBS, and TNT.

In 2004, Viacom rejected the UCC's homosexual-friendly Christian ad only from airing on CBS's major broadcast network only, but the media giant allowed the ad to air on its cable channels, saying the ad is considered a political endorsement of same-sex marriage.

Church leaders said the ads are neither political nor advocacy, but simply an inclusive message to reach out to those who are outside the church.

The UCC's "bouncer" ad from last year was named the year's most outstanding electronic advertisement by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

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