Mid-South newspaper ad attacking homosexuality stirs controversy - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Mid-South newspaper ad attacking homosexuality stirs controversy

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MEMPHIS, TN - (WMC-TV) – A full page Mid-South newspaper ad that attacks homosexuality has stirred a lot of controversy. Now a movement has been created to fight the message. 

An anti gay message in Sunday and Tuesday's Commercial Appeal looks a lot like a news column. It's actually a paid advertisement. 

The full page ad quotes bible verses and interprets them as "a grim reminder of God's hatred of the sin of homosexuality." 

Opponents of the ad want to know who's behind it and why the newspaper agreed to run it. 

"It's essentially pouring hate onto a full page ad attacking members of their community," Jonathan Cole with the Tennessee Equality Project said. 

The ad was paid for by the untraceable Memphis churches of Christ and interested individuals. 

"It's disturbing that this is an anonymous group that won't name who they are," Cole said. 

Long-time Memphians are questioning the Commercial Appeal's decision to run the ad twice. 

"It just breaks my heart that they want to pay their writers with this kind of rhetoric," said filmmaker Morgan Jon Fox. 

Filmmakers Morgan Jon Fox and Craig Brewer took to Twitter. 

Brewer's opinion? Let's just say it wasn't a thumbs up. 

"I know that in these times that they need to pay the bills, but I think it's always the wrong thing to profit off of the rhetoric of hate," Brewer said. 

The newspaper's own sports columnist tweeted "what's next, the truth about black people?" 

"I question whether the paper would take out an ad from a racial hate group and run it if they paid the price or if they would run an anti-Semitic ad," Memphis attorney Joe Leibovich said. 

Commercial Appeal Editor Chris Peck issued a written statement:

 

"The Commercial Appeal fully supports the rights of people to express opinions, even opinions we or others might find objectionable. This right to express opinion is fundamental to a free press and The First Amendment.  And it's why we accept advertising that doesn't necessarily reflect our newspaper's editorial page positions. In relation to homosexuality, the newspaper editorial board actively has opposed any kind of discrimination based on race, gender, or sexual orientation, and will continue to do so. These two core principles will continue to guide us as we consider future advertising and news coverage."

 

Though the wording of the ad buyer reads "Memphis churches of Christ," Chris Altrock, Senior Minister with Highland Church of Christ issued this statement:

 

"On behalf of Memphis-area Churches of Christ, I'd like to say the following: disregard anyone claiming to speak for Churches of Christ. 

Several days ago a full-page ad appeared in the Commercial Appeal.  Its author indicated that the ad was presented on behalf of area Churches of Christ.  The flyer claimed to present the view of these congregations regarding same-sex attraction. 

Ironically, Churches of Christ are non-denominational.  That's a religious way of saying we have no formal superstructure, no official bishops, representatives or the like.  For one person or group to claim to speak for Churches of Christ is a bit like me claiming to speak for Memphis when I vote next Tuesday.  My vote speaks only for me.  Each congregation in Churches of Christ speaks only for itself. 

Anyone familiar with the history of non-denominational groups like Churches of Christ would know it would be a miracle to meet with the nearly ninety congregations in metro-Memphis and bring them to agreement on a written document like the Commercial Appeal ad.  We've fussed over things much less significant (of course, we're not the only group to do so).  No such meeting took place.  No such miracle was recorded. 

Churches of Christ, and other Christian congregations in the U. S., have the perception of being repressive, exclusive and intolerant.  Young people are leaving institutional Christianity by droves.  There's not an ad, no matter the author, that can adequately address these concerns.  And, by the way, if I were going to take a page out in the Commercial Appeal, I'd probably speak of the transforming love of Jesus for all. 

So, if you'd like to know what people in Churches of Christ think about an issue like homosexuality, don't look for an answer in the paper.  Visit a minister or elder at a local congregation.  Go to lunch.  Have coffee.  Talk one on one with a real person.  Who knows, you may just be pleasantly surprised at what you find."

 

Leaders in the gay community chose to fire back with an act of kindness.  They are holding a food drive between now and November 9th and encouraging everyone to donate to the Mid South Food Bank. 

Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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