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Faith-Based Communicators React to CBS, NBC Nixing of Church Ad

December 3, 2004, NEW YORK CITY - Responding to the refusal of the CBS and NBC television networks to air a message from the United Church of Christ, a nationwide group of faith-based communicators has issued a statement challenging the networks' action as "arbitrary" and contrary to the principles of freedom of speech and equal access to media.

The statement was drafted yesterday by the Communication Commission of the National Council of Churches USA, an ecumenical association of professional communicators serving a wide range of Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox faith groups. The statement reads:

"The controversial issue here is not the content of the ad, but the arbitrary standards of the network gatekeepers. Church doors are open to all who would come; but broadcast channels are increasingly closed to all but the wealthy and well-connected.

"It is important to note that the broadcast networks are not being asked to give free time to the United Church of Christ to express its message - the church is ready to pay dearly for that privilege, even though the networks do not pay for their highly profitable use of the broadcast spectrum.

"The Federal Communications Commission, in giving free access to the public's airwaves to commercial corporations - with virtually no strings attached - has handed them powerful control over America's media "public square." The for-profit keepers of that square are all too willing to promulgate messages laced with sexual innuendo, greed, violence, and the politics of personal destruction, but a message of openness and welcome that merely says "church doors are open to all" is being silenced as too controversial!

"Advocacy advertising abounds on TV: agribusinesses, drug manufacturers, gambling casinos, oil companies, even some government agencies regularly expose viewers to messages advocating their products and programs, in the interest of shaping public attitudes and building support for their points of view.

"Are only the ideas and attitudes of faith groups now off limits? Constitutional guarantees of religious liberty and freedom of speech, not to mention common fairness, beg for leadership by the FCC to assure that America's faith community has full and equal access to the nation's airwaves, to deliver positive messages that seek to build and enrich the quality of life."

Signers to date include the following:

  • Thomas L. Hoyt, Jr., President, National Council of Churches USA (Shreveport, La.)
  • J. Martin Bailey, Director of Communication, retired, National Council of Churches USA (West Orange, N.J.)
  • Ann Ball, Director of Communication, Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana (New Orleans, La.)
  • Fr. Bernard R. (Bob) Bonnot, Roman Catholic author, producer (Los Angeles, Calif.)
  • Albert G Cohen, Executive Director, Southern California Ecumenical Council (Pasadena,  Calif.)
  • Daniel B. England, former Dir. of Communications, The Episcopal Church (Redding, Conn.)
  • Sr. Maureen Fiedler, SL, Ph.D., Radio Host, Interfaith Voices (Washington, D.C.)
  • Jo Bales Gallagher, National Training Center for Resource Center Directors (Richmond, Va.)
  • Daniel Gangler, Director of Communications, Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church (Indianapolis, Ind.)
  • Thomas W. Goodhue, television critic, the United Methodist Reporter (Dallas, Tex.)  
  • Herb Gunn, religious journalist and vice-chair of the Communication Committee of the General Convention, Episcopal Church USA (Detroit, Mich.)
  • Mike Hickox, Director of Communications, New England Conference of United Methodist Church (Lawrence, Mass.)
  • Larry Hollon, General Secretary, United Methodist Communications (Nashville, Tenn.)
  • Vince Isner, Director, (Washington, D.C.)
  • N. J. L'Heureux, Jr., Executive Director, Queens Federation of Churches and Moderator, NCC Committee on Religious Liberty.  (Richmond Hill, N.Y.)
  • Mike Maus, President, Mike Maus Associates, and former communication director, National Council of Churches USA (Arvada, Colo.)
  • Adan M. Medrano, President, JM Communications, and current President of the North American Region of the World Association of Christian Communication (Houston, Tex.)
  • Lester McGrath-Andino, Executive Committee Member, World Convention of Christian Churches - Churches of Christ - Disciples of Christ (Toa Alta, Puerto Rico)
  • Jim Naughton, Director of Communications, Episcopal Diocese of Washington (D.C.)
  • Kermit Netteburg, Seventh-day Adventist Church (Silver Spring, Md.)
  • Wesley M. Pattillo, Associate General Secretary for Communication, National Council of Churches USA, and Director of the Communication Commission (New York, N.Y.)
  • Kenneth L. Pennings, Coordinator for Local Ecumenism, Wisconsin Council of Churches (Sun Prairie, Wis.)
  • John L. Peterson, Communication Director, The Interfaith Alliance (Washington D.C.)
  • David W. Reid, Publisher, Vital Theology (Fort Collins, Colo.)
  • Eric C. Shafer, Director for Communication, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (Chicago, Ill.)
  • Louis C. (Skip) Schueddig, President, The Episcopal Media Center (Atlanta, Ga.)
  • A. Bowie Snodgrass, Web Content Editor, Episcopal Church USA (New York, N.Y.)
  • Richard O. Singleton, Executive Director, Metropolitan Christian Council (Detroit, Mich.-Windsor, Ont.)
  • Nikki Stephanopoulos, Director, News and Information, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (New York, N.Y.)
  • Douglas Stivison, Publisher and Executive Editor, The Living Pulpit, and former vice president of The Wall Street Journal (Montclair, N.J.)

  • Shirley W. Struchen, Executive Director, Religion Communicators Council (New York, N.Y.)
  • Jerry L. Van Marter, News Director, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (Louisville, Ky.)
  • Ethan Vesely-Flad, Exec. Director, Episcopal Church Publishing Company, and Editor, The Witness (New York, N.Y.)
  • Peter Wallace, Executive Producer, Day 1/The Protestant Hour (Atlanta, Ga.)
  • Wanda Bryant Wills, Executive Director, Communication Ministries, Christian Church -Disciples of Christ  (Indianapolis, Ind.)
  • Walt Wiltschek, Editor, Messenger, Church of the Brethren General Board (Elgin, Ill.)
  • William C. Winslow, retired communications officer, United Church of Christ (New York, N.Y.)
  • Laurie Wozniak, President, Episcopal Communicators (Buffalo, N.Y.)

Additional signers will be listed here as they become available. 

For more on the Communication Commission's media advocacy efforts, see:


Contact: NCC Media Relations, 212-870-2252 or 2048  or

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