From the Editor

Sorry, that’s too controversial!

What are the broadcast networks really afraid of?

Some of our readers may have missed the small news digest piece on page 4 this month, dealing with the failed efforts of the United Church of Christ (UCC) denomination to place a public service message on national television networks. It’s the second year in a row the UCC has failed in its attempt to get one of its “inclusivity” messages broadcast nationwide. The word from the networks is that the messages in the denomination’s TV inserts are “too controversial.”

This, of course, is code language. The networks are worried about backlash and loss of revenue. One would assume that welcoming, or not welcoming, a black person or a person in a wheelchair, at worship would not be controversial, from the networks’ standpoint. Focusing on a Middle Eastern person might be. But to an organized segment of the American population these days, one that worries the networks when it flexes its collective muscle and protests what it doesn’t like, it’s the suggestion that two same-sex people sharing a relationship can be affirmed at worship, that raises hackles.

Metro Lutheran readers differ on what to say about same-sex relationships. They debate the issue in our pages with great conviction. What concerns us about what the networks are doing, however, is that it closes an avenue for conversation. The airwaves belong to everyone, not just profit-driven networks.

It seems puzzling that anyone in the United States could feel threatened with a (small) mainline denomination’s TV spot message. If someone disagrees with it, they’re free to say, “There go those crazy (or misguided?) UCC radicals again!” But exclude the message from the airwaves on the basis of controversial content? Would the networks ban a Southern Baptist message claiming that evolution is hogwash, or one from Focus on the Family telling us that global warming is “bad science”? Those are controversial, too.

Our father in the faith, Paul the Apostle, reminded us once that we are called into freedom, not into fear. Why do so many modern Christians have trouble understanding that?