Bouncer ad wins GLAAD Media Award

The commercial, which promotes the UCC’s extravagant welcome and features two muscle-bound “bouncers” standing guard outside a picturesque church and selecting which persons are permitted to attend Sunday services, was honored June 11 at the 16th annual GLAAD Media Awards in San Francisco.
“The media awards are an annual event that provides GLADD the opportunity to thank those people in the media who portray lesbian and gay people in a favorable and accurate way,” said Nick Adams, a GLAAD spokesman. “The UCC advertisement really exemplified the type of inclusion of lesbians and gays that we are hoping to see more of in advertising.”
The commercial, part of the UCC’s broad identity campaign states that – like Jesus – the UCC seeks to welcome all people, regardless of ability, age, race, economic circumstance or sexual orientation. Written text interrupts the “bouncer” scene, announcing that “Jesus didn’t turn people away. Neither do we.” A narrator then proclaims the UCC’s commitment to Jesus’ extravagant welcome: “No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you’re welcome here.”
But the ad sparked controversy last December when both the CBS and NBC television networks refused to air it because it implies acceptance of gay and lesbian couples – among other often-marginalized constituencies – and is therefore “too controversial.”
The ABC television network said at the time that it had a policy of not airing religious advertisements of any kind, but last month aired an ad for James Dobson’s Focus on the Family during the network’s season finale of “Supernanny.”
Ron Buford, coordinator of the UCC’s identity campaign, said the GLAAD award was an affirmation of the UCC’s continued historical commitment to working for social justice for all people.
“The significance of this award for the UCC is that for nearly 400 years our forbearers have stood against the defamation of all sorts of oppressed people,” he said. “Today, the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community is among the latest groups of people facing defamation. There will be others in the future and I am pleased that our church will stand against all sorts of defamation. That is why I joined.”
Since the December launch of the $30 million, four-year national advertising campaign – which thus far also has included an additional television commercial and several radio commercials – the public’s interest in the UCC has exploded. In the first month alone, more than 137,000 people visited the UCC’s websites to “find a church.”
“One of the things that we have seen with this campaign is that not only have gay and lesbian people responded, but people who saw witness of a church with the courage to stand with the oppressed have responded as well,” Buford said. “There is no daylight between our claims and our actions. The world is looking for that kind of integrity.”
According to the Rev. David C. Schoen, minister for evangelism for the UCC, close to 80 percent of 20 year olds have never been to church. Buford said many of them have been turned off from the institution because “of their belief that it was not true to what Christ taught.”
Re-inspiring a faith in the possibility of the church within society’s younger generations is one of the primary objectives of the campaign, Buford said. Winning awards like that from groups like GLAAD is an indication that objective is being accomplished, he said.
“Each of us has that God-sized hole that only God can fill,” Buford said. “There were a lot of people who, when they heard about our ad and heard about God in a language that they could understand, came to church for the first time to have their God-sized hole filled. Thank God it’s happening.”

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Categories: United Church of Christ News

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