Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Campus Paper Rejects Religious Ad

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Campus Paper Rejects Religious Ad

Article excerpt

A CONTROVERSIAL AD, which ran last October in East Tennessee State University s student newspaper the East Tennessean, has spurred a change in the newspaper's ad acceptance policy

The university's campus ministry of the Campus Crusade for Christ placed the ad last October, recently had another ad it wanted to run in conjunction with Martin Luther King Jr. Day rejected by the newspaper.

Tommy Dove, a staff worker with the campus ministry who advises, assists, and helps develop programs and student leadership, said that the October ad gave a Christian perspective on homosexuality. The ad was in the form of a letter, and was written by a former lesbian who changed her lifestyle after finding God.

The ad not only ignited controversy and complaints -- it also caused the paper to amend its Policies and Operation Procedures. According to an interdepartmental communication memo issued by the Student Publications Subcommittee on Nov. 28:

"All advertising is subject to the approval of the adviser, office manager and advertising manager who reserve the right to refuse any ad. Advertisements with the following content have been deemed not worthy of approval . . ."

One of the six banned were ads containing "racial, ethnic, religious or sexual orientation prejudicial content."

The memo made clear that "sexual orientation" was new wording, just added to the policy.

And though it was the "lesbian ad" that caused the controversy on East Tennessee State's campus, it was the Campus Crusade for Christ's ad, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday and Black History month, that was rejected.

The ad, which was created by the Campus Crusade's headquarters in Orlando, contained a headline which read in bold letters, "And now a racist remark from God," followed by the words of John 3:16, and then a quote with letters as bold as the headline, "I love them all."

The ad also contained copy in smaller print which read, "People forgiven by God have changed hearts, the kind necessary to end racism."

After submitting this ad, Dove received a letter from Jerry Haga, executive editor of the East Tennessean, and student, which read:

"Recently your organization submitted an advertisement to be considered for publication in the East Tennessean. The ad in question, which was under the heading, "And now for a racist remark from God," has been reviewed by myself, Perry Hodge, advertising manager, Candy Naff, office manager, and Martha Milner, student publications adviser, and has been found unacceptable for inclusion in the East Tennessean."

Haga then explained the before-mentioned policy and continued: "When this policy was recently amended by the Student Publications Subcommittee, it was their feeling that responsibility for such decisions remained with the editor, and it is with that in mind that the decision not to publish the ad was made by myself in consultation with the three above named individuals.

"The reasons that we felt the ad was inappropriate for publication are that it was felt to be misleading, needlessly sensationalistic and racially insensitive.

"It should be noted that two subsequent ads submitted by your organization have been accepted, and one was in fact published on page 11 of the Jan. 22 issue of the East Tennessean."

Dove said his Campus Crusade for Christ's members are confused. "For us, we feel like there's no way to know what they'll accept," he said.

Dove said the purpose of the Martin Luther King Jr. ad was to take a stand against racism. His group wants racial reconciliation, and if the ad caused a controversy, it would defeat its purpose. …

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