I’ve begun to suspect that marketeers submit their ad proposals to the Superbowl committee with hopes of being rejected–because it gains them free publicity. I mean could JesusHatesObama.com really have afforded the price tag of a Superbowl commercial?
The latest rejectee is a an organization called Fixed Point who sponsors debates between Christians and Atheists on college campuses–which I wholeheartedly approve of. In the past, they have welcomed such well known speakers as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. The ad would feature the commonly seen sign amongst the spectators “John 3:16” which is a favorite conversion verse for Christians. I had to memorize it when I was a kid. ” For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” Damn if I don’t still remember it; I typed it out without looking it up–though, don’t ask me what translation, probably King James.
In this instance, it does look like Fixed Point was willing to pony up the cash, all 3.1 million of it. Larry Taunton pushed Fox to accept the commercial but Fox came back with that they, “”…would not air anything with religious doctrine.” In addition, a Fox spokesman said that it was the policy of Fox Broadcasting Network to not accept advertising from religious organizations for the purpose of advancing beliefs (evangelizing).
From a business perspective, I guess this makes sense, though, I doubt most viewers would care. I’m actually for Fixed Point being able to advertise because if they can do then so can atheists. And promoting those debates are good for introducing believers to unbelievers. However, Fox is not publicly owned and therefore this does not fall into a free speech issue.
But, as a result of the decision, Fox unfortunately gave Fixed Point some gospel ammo. They came out with their own statement: “It seems one can advertise just about anything else. Few movie trailers are deemed too violent or beer commercials too sexual for primetime. But religious messages, particularly Christian ones, well, that’s just too controversial.” It simply makes Fixed Point’s gospel more important than it really is and adds to the persecution complex American Christians have. We should be clear that this was a business decision and there’s nothing controversial about it. It is not good business to offend other religions or unbelievers who may object to evangelizing while they’re trying to enjoy the sporting event of the year. The same is true of idiot car salesmen who post “Honk if you love Jesus” on their marquees like the used car lot down the road from me (as an atheist, I’m not planning to ever buy from them. I’ll buy from the Christian who doesn’t feel it is necessary to mix their personal beliefs in with their business as I don’t tell my clients not to believe in god). This is not Christian discrimination. I’m sure an atheist organizations would not be able to say, “John 3:16 is a bunch of hooey.”
I will concede one point though on behalf of both Christians and Atheists. The Mormons seem to get their commercials aired without any problems? Have they aired on the Fox Broadcasting Network? Maybe we’re not talking the Superbowl but did the recent Mormon commercial campaign run on any Fox affiliates? I don’t know, but if they did then Fixed Point should take Fox to task.