I learned today about two commercials that were banned from last night’s media spectacular. One was for a conservative comedy site, “Jesus hates Obama,” that is selling T-shirts, mugs, etc. Fox TV wasn’t giving reasons for rejecting it, but the production quality of the 30 second piece suggests that the organization never thought the commercial would air in the first place. If they indeed had secured the three million dollars needed to secure the spot, one would think they would have spent more money on the actual commercial. Either way, they are no doubt getting more publicity from being rejected than they ever would have received from actually airing the commercial.
The other rejected commercial was the one shown above. It promotes a website called http://LookUp316.com. The commercial is produced by Fixed Point Foundation, an international foundation that supports the clear communication of a Christian worldview in the intellectual marketplace.
On the one hand I find it surprising that there were any commercials that were banned! I’ll tell you what doesn’t get you banned, apparently: sexual innuendo, offensive language, getting hit in the groin, heaving cleavage, and so on.
Fox TV banned the, “Look Up 316” spot because, it, “promoted religious doctrine”. Larry Taunton, executive Director of Fixed Point Foundation responded to CNN saying,
Increasingly, religion and Christianity is treated like smoking – you can do it but only in designated areas. They are saying there’s no place for faith in the public square. There’s a place for the soft core porn of Go-Daddy, violence, and irresponsible drinking, but not for faith.
The logic for rejecting ads like the Look Up 316 spot is based on a shaky and untested assumption: that there is such a thing as a neutral, non-religious ideology. Everyone promotes an ideology of some kind or another. There is no such thing as an unbiased perspective. We all have our biases.
Every commercial, no matter what it is for, promotes one agenda or another. If you are selling a product, you are making a truth claim. You are claiming that your product is superior to another product. You are claiming that life as you describe it is better than life as your competitor describes it. What’s the difference? Opponents of Christianity say that Christian ideology cannot be promoted in the ‘public arena’ because it makes absolute moral truth claims that cannot be substantiated. But doesn’t everyone make absolute truth claims?
When you say that promoting religious doctrine is wrong you are making an absolute moral truth claim: “Christian ideology is wrong.” The assumption that is not being checked is that moral-absolutes cannot be tolerated in a ‘secular society.’ But opponents of Christian expression are opposing one absolute truth claim with another: “Your truth claim is invalid, mine is valid.”
What is refreshing about the Christian Worldview is the assertion that there is no such thing as a spiritual / secular divide. Everything is spiritual therefore all truth claims are spiritual truth claims. The way to evaluate truth claims then is not to determine whether they are religious or not, but instead to determine whether they are true or not.
In the ‘public arena’ today bloggers are debating whether or not praying in the end zone is appropriate for public TV. What makes an end zone prayer less appropriate than an end zone pelvic thrust? Both are a statement (of sorts) I know which one I would rather see. What is key in this conversation is to keep the focus off the politics of free speech, and away from the extremes of either position and instead focus on the truth. Can your truth claim be validated? That is really the question that needs to be dealt with.