Archive for the ‘censorship’ Tag

Advertising: yet another slice of our culture allergic to expressions of faith   Leave a comment

For those who didn’t see Mark Oppenheimer’s article in the New York Times earlier this month, Living the Questions was mentioned in his weekend “Beliefs” feature. Oppenheimer focused on the evangelical group, Fixed Point Foundation, and its effort to air an ad during the super bowl. In “Super Bowl Ads Will Leave a Religious Question Unanswered,” Oppenheimer suggests that,

Mark Oppenheimer writes for The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Slate, Mother Jones, Tablet, The Forward, and many other publications. He is an editor of The New Haven Review and an occasional commentator on NPR.

“Perhaps he (Larry Taunton of Fixed Point) should share some halftime pork rinds with the folks at Living the Questions, a Phoenix company that publishes liberal Christian education materials. They too had an advertisement rejected, by broadcasters who may have shared Fox’s fear that any religious message could anger some of the audience.

Last month, Living the Questions bought radio time for one of its products on stations in Portland, Ore. The one-minute ad for Saving Jesus, a 12-part video course, begins with the question, “Ever feel like Jesus has been kidnapped and taken hostage by the Christian right?”

In Portland, the advertisement was dropped after the first day by three stations owned by Entercom Radio, and dropped after 10 days, and 36 airings, by KINK-FM, owned by Alpha Broadcasting. Erin Hubert, program director for Entercom, said that although the station received only one complaint about the spot, it was dropped “because a local advertiser wanted that time.”

But David M. Felten, co-owner of Living the Questions, said his media buyer told him in a Jan. 6 e-mail that “there is a radio group in Portland that asked us to pull their online streaming spots off of the air due to some listener complaints.” And KINK-FM was also responding to feedback from listeners, said Amy Leimbach, the director of sales for Alpha Broadcasting.

“If a commercial is offensive to our listeners, regardless of who the client might be, and we get a constant barrage of complaints, we will take it off the air,” Ms. Leimbach said.

Of course, it is unclear who would be more upset by an ad defending Christianity from the “religious right”: those on the religious right, who feel slighted, or secular rock-radio listeners who resent evangelism even from liberal Christians.Ms. Leimbach refused to share any of the many e-mails she said her station received each day the ad aired.

The general reaction, she said, was “I can’t believe KINK would take a position on this,” Ms. Leimbach said. “They felt by running it, the station was taking a position on religion.”

It is not just broadcasters who fear the power of religious advertising to anger customers.

In December, the Fort Worth Transportation Authority ran bus advertisements that read, “Millions of people are good without God.”

Local Christians responded with a bus boycott, and one group hired a van bearing the message “I Still Love You. — God” to follow a city bus. Within a week, the transportation authority resolved the conflict by banning all religious advertising, including that of atheists.

And so, liberated from eternal quarrels, Fort Worth city buses — like Fox Sports and KINK-FM — will have more space to sell us potato chips and car leases.”

The whole article appeared in print on February 5, 2011, on page A12 of the New York edition of The New York Times. To read the whole article, click HERE.

Thanks again to Mark Oppenheimer for the ink on LtQ! Thanks also to Chuck Currie, whose hustle with the Portland media, social media savvy, and blog-posts were responsible for bringing LtQ’s radio “drama” to the attention of many.

For a link to the Radio Spot that caused all the hubbub, click HERE.

LtQ’s Jesus Jars Sports Illustrated, Angers Portland Radio Listeners   5 comments

PORTLAND, OREGON – What is media giant Entercom Communications afraid of? Curriculum publisher “Living the Questions” recently contracted with three of Entercom’s Portland area stations, KGON-FM (Classic Rock), KWJJ-FM (Country), KYCH-FM (Classic Hits) to run professionally produced ads as part of their online streaming radio services. Without an explanation beyond “due to listener complaint,” the ads were pulled after only one day.

Living the Questions is a respected resource of video curriculum for progressive Christian communities around the world. The Portland radio spots advertised a new series called “Saving Jesus” with the seemingly balanced introduction:

“Ever feel like Jesus has been kidnapped and taken hostage by the Christian Right? Or maybe even worse, simply cast aside as irrelevant by those on the secular left?”

Portland was chosen specifically because of its established reputation as a liberal-leaning market. However, there seems to be very well organized opposition to any message other than that deemed acceptable to the Christian Right. That or it doesn’t take much for Entercom to be threatened into compliance with the expectations and prejudices of a fraction of their listening community.

And now, after moving the ads to “substitute” Portland radio stations, Alpha Broadcasting’s KINK has pulled the ad because, according to KINK’s Amanda Quillen, programming is “getting flooded with calls & emails” “from angry listeners ‘bothered’ by the message.” Are these angry conservative Christians calling? Angry liberals?

If it is angry Christians defensive about their narrow interpretation of Jesus, how are they any different from Muslim Extremists who react so negatively to representations of the prophet that they deem offensive? What’s going on in Portland?

Portland Blogger & UCC pastor, Chuck Currie

“I’ve used the Saving Jesus curriculum and other programs from the Living the Questions series at three Portland-area churches,” said The Rev. Chuck Currie, a minister in the United Church of Christ (www.chuckcurrie.com).  “It is deeply concerning to me that Portland radio stations would refuse to air commercials for a Christian education program when they have no qualms about running negative political advertising.  Either these stations are caving to voices from the Religious Right or from those who wrongly assume that all religion is bad.  Banning advertising from progressive Christians is not at all dissimilar to how media in some parts of the country tried to keep The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other religious voices fighting for civil rights off the air in the 1960s.”

In a similar development, a print version of the banned radio ad is scheduled to run in the same region in Time, Newsweek, and The Week at the end of January 2011. Although the ad is a simple picture of Jesus along with the questions above, the legal department at Sports Illustrated rejected the ad as too “jarring.” No further explanation was available.

“Saving Jesus” co-author, Jeff Procter-Murphy, has run into similar challenges in the past. He recalls trying to rent a billboard promoting the work of pro-LGBT clergy group, No Longer Silent: Clergy for Justice, in Phoenix. Clear Channel refused to release available billboards for the ad. As Clear Channel had the monopoly on the market, the group had no other options.

Download a pdf media release HERE

See the “Saving Jesus” magazine ad rejected by Sports Illustrated HERE:

Saving Jesus Redux Ad

 


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