I've wanted to blog about the brouhaha surrounding CBS and NBC's refusal to air the United Church of Christ's ad spot promoting the value of religious inclusion, but have had trouble marshalling my thoughts beyond a potent, but nonverbal, cocktail of anger and sorrow. Fortunately, other bloggers have spoken out against it, among them Father Jake and Rabbi Arthur Waskow. UCC minister Chuck Currie has some choice words on the subject, too.
To me, this ad exemplifies one of religion's highest qualities: inclusion of human beings who differ and who are all created, as my tradition teaches, b'tselem Elohim (in the image of God). I can't imagine what it must feel like to find this ad (or that notion) threatening to one's spirituality or one's sense of self. I feel I should try to have compassion for the network presidents who are so in thrall to our administration's notions of marriage that they find the ad too "controversial" to air...but the honest truth is, some part of me doesn't want to imagine how it must feel to make that decision.
I’m deeply troubled that religious inclusion is somehow controversial, and I don't agree with CBS and NBC’s implicit stance that commercials should steer clear of opinions which challenge those of the dominant political party. The UCC wants people to know that it makes a point of including people. That some people (the heads of CBS and NBC among them) apparently find that position politically dangerous says something sad about the state of religious discourse in America today.
Yes, inclusion of all is a radical notion. Everyone who reads this manifests a face of God. Everyone you run into today manifests a face of God. Every single person in your building, in your town, in every neighborhood, in every nation, on this entire planet manifests a face of God. That's true whether they look like you or not, whether they think like you or not, whether they sound like you or not. That may qualify as a radical theological position. But it shouldn't be the kind of radical that scares two major television networks away from airing an advertisement for a church with an open-door stance.