Two different religious news stories have been of particular interest to me. One has been the decision by CBS and NBC to not air a tv ad by the United Church of Christ which focuses on the denomination's openness to all people, including gay and lesbians. The ad was deemed too controversial because it implied that other churches were not open and because Bush has come out against gay marriage. As Philocrites writes:
Isn't it amazing that one of the country's most venerable mainline denominations can't even buy the right to share its understanding of the Gospel? Second, it boggles the mind that the White House's grandstanding about a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage could be invoked by a TV network as a reason to exclude any advertisement that even indirectly hints that gay people are welcome to go to church.
It's odd that that a news network openly states that it takes it's orders from Bush's policy goals. This episode points to the difficulty of geting a liberal protestant view into the public arena these days. But there is something that can be done. The UCC has a helpful site which allows folks to send off letters to the respective media outlets in support of the denomination's attempt to have the ad aired.
But is it right to imply other churches are not open? Today as this issue was being debated another decision was made by a church trial in Pennsylvania where United Methodist and lesbian pastor Beth Stroud was convicted 12-1 of "engaging in practices declared by the United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teachings” What was this practice? Being an open lesbian in the church. And the punishment? The stripping of Stroud of her ministerial credentials.
The church is not open as a whole. Certainly not in the evangelical bodies which provided the votes for Bush and the constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. The Southern Baptists for instance, while complaining about the ad had the top three articles on their news site directed against the "homosexual agenda." And increasingly a number of mainline denominations are moving further right on this issue. The United Methodist trial and conviction of Stroud is exhibit A of the problem. It's why the UCC ad was important in its reaching out to people estranged from the church over these sort of actions.