Controversial Religious Advertisement

December 3, 2004 -- Posted 6:45 p.m. CDT

Jonesboro, AR -- A new religious advertisement is creating quite a stir because of its content. The ad is put out by the United Church of Christ, a religious denomination that stems from the pilgrims. The ad states, like Jesus, the Church seeks to welcome all people regardless of ability, age, race, economic circumstances or sexual orientation.

As part of its new broad identity campaign, the United Church of Christ began airing this nationwide ad on December 1st. In the ad, 2 bouncers are standing guard outside the church and are being selective with which persons can attend Sunday services. They show African Americans and homosexuals being turned away.

The ad is being aired on a lot of cable networks. It's been rejected by NBC, CBS, and ABC.

According to CBS, "the United Church of Christ is being denied network access because its ad implies acceptance of gay and lesbian couples -- among minority constituencies -- and is therefore too controversial."

In response, the United Church of Christ says this rejection should bring a chill to everyone who supports freedom of religious expression.

A search on their web site shows the United Church of Christ does not have a congregation in Jonesboro.

"I think it's unfortunate that they presented a really good point and presented it in a rather controversial way," said Minister Larry Deal with the Southwest Church of Christ in Jonesboro. This local church has no religious affiliation with the church in question.

"Jesus accepted people, but he still told them that they needed to change their lives, and churches need to do them same thing, and I think the ad only takes part of that," said Deal.

Some critics believe this ad is saying other protestant denominations are guilty of turning away minorities and homosexuals.

"I have to admit that that probably is true in some places. I think at Southwest and in many of the churches in the Jonesboro area we are trying not to do that, but there have been times in the past and even churches today are not open to people because of some of their practices and I don't think that's something Jesus would do," added Deal.