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Church blurb nixed

Trio of nets deem ad too controversial to air

NEW YORK — NBC, CBS and UPN have rejected as too controversial a 30-second spot from the United Church of Christ emphasizing that it accepts gays and minorities but suggesting that other churches do not.

Ad is part of a broad identity campaign launched Wednesday to brand the denomination as accepting of people of different sexual orientation, race, age and economic circumstance.

Policy against advocacy ads

But CBS said the network has a broad policy against accepting any advocacy advertising, and since the ad endorses gay marriage, the network turned it down, just as it would ads from political groups like the Swift Boat Veterans or MoveOn.org.

“Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other minority groups by other individuals and organizations, and the fact 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,” the church quoted CBS’ rejection letter as saying.

NBC said it accepted one of the church’s two ads and offered suggestions on how the other could be tailored to fit the net’s standards, but the church declined.

“It deals with an issue of public controversy and therefore it is not acceptable,” said Alan Wurtzel, president for broadcast standards at NBC.

The ad features two bouncers standing outside a symbolic church selecting people to be permitted to pass the velvet rope to attend Sunday services. The bouncers reject two men and an African-American boy and girl, while letting a white heterosexual couple through.

Written text interrupts the scene: “Jesus didn’t turn people away. Neither do we.”

NBC’s problem with the ad is not that it condones inclusiveness but that it suggests that other churches reject people based on race or sexual orientation.

Ads were accepted and began running Wednesday on ABC Family, AMC, BET, Discovery, Fox, Hallmark, History, Nick at Nite, TBS and TNT.

“We find it disturbing that the networks in question seem to have no problem exploiting gay persons through mindless comedies or titillating dramas, but when it comes to a church’s loving welcome of committed gay couples, that’s where they draw the line,” said Rev. Robert Chase of UCC.

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