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Mohler tells ‘Good Morning America’ audience that controversial UCC commercial is ‘masterful propaganda’
December 02, 2004
By Jeff Robinson
Mohler appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America" Thursday to discuss the controversial commercial released to numerous cable networks Dec. 1 by the United Church of Christ.
LOUISVILLE, Ky.—A new TV advertisement promoting the United Church of Christ says that God is still speaking and at least insinuates that He is now affirming homosexuality.
But R. Albert Mohler Jr., appearing on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday, said the commercial misrepresents biblical Christianity. Mohler is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“It is a piece of masterful propaganda but it is a diabolical misrepresentation of Christianity,” Mohler said.
“And Jesus Christ did indeed come to seek and to save the lost but as He said to the woman caught in adultery, ‘Go and sin no more.’ He did not invite persons to stay in sinful lifestyles. Rather, He came to save us from our sins and to make us what we otherwise could not be -- and that is victorious over all the sins that entrap us. Homosexuality is one of those.”
The 30-second spot began running on several cable channels on Dec. 1 and is part of the UCC’s two-year campaign toward an inclusion that affirms “all persons who feel rejected” by the church, said Robert Chase, director of communications for the UCC, who appeared with Mohler.
The ad depicts a pair of bouncers, clad in black and wearing dark sunglasses, standing behind a set of velvet ropes as a long line of people attempt to file past them into a church that looms in the background.
The bouncers stop a same-sex couple, saying, “No, step aside please.” One guard halts two black children with a hand and a terse statement, “No way, not you.” He turns away an Hispanic girl, dismissing her with two words: “No way.” The brawny gatekeepers remove the ropes only to allow a well-dressed white family to pass.
The written content reads, “Jesus didn’t turn people away … Neither do we” and the soothing voiceover reassures potential parishioners that, “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.” Chase says the ad must be interpreted allegorically.
“This ad is clearly allegorical,” Chase said. “There are no churches that have real bouncers out in front of their structures with velvet ropes. But the point is not from those of us who are inside the church but those people who feel alienated and rejected. For those people those barriers are very real and we’re simply trying to say, ‘You’re welcome here.’”
Host Diane Sawyer asked Mohler if his criticism of the commercial meant that he does not want gays to attend his church. Mohler pointed out that every true church is composed of sinners who have, by God’s grace, repented of and turned from their sins.
Biblical churches would by no means turn aside homosexuals, but would proclaim to them, as to all sinners, the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he said.
“Our church is made up, like every true church, of sinners saved by grace,” Mohler said. “But we are not to be left in our sin but are to come out of what the Scripture clearly identifies as sin. The apostle Paul spoke the church at Corinth, listing things, including homosexuality, and said, ‘and such were some of you.’ We are all sinners but we cannot remain in our sin and we can’t just bless a lifestyle by saying we accept it when the Scripture clearly condemns it as sin.”
Both NBC and CBS have refused to run the commercial but ABC will allow it to air on one of its affiliates, ABC Family, Sawyer said. According to the UCC website, other cable networks have agreed to use the spot, including TNT, TBS, FOX, Hallmark, Discovery, TVLand, AMC, BET, Travel Channel, Nick at Nite, and the History Channel.
The ad is a major component of the UCC’s “Stillspeaking” campaign that seeks to cast the denomination as a broad and ultra-inclusive body. The Stillspeaking website (http://www.stillspeaking.com/default.htm) asserts that “like Jesus – the United Church of Christ seeks to welcome all people, regardless of ability, age, race, economic circumstance or sexual orientation.”
Central to the campaign is the theme “God is still speaking” followed by a comma. The punctuation mark is pivotal to the slogan, showing that God has not definitively spoken. The website includes a quote from the late comedienne Gracie Allen that serves to explain the campaign slogan: “Never place a period where God has placed a comma.” The UCC includes some 1.3 million members and more than 6,000 churches nationwide.
In concluding the brief interview, Sawyer asked Mohler if he would allow in his church the moneychangers for whom she said, “Jesus reserved His worst anger.” Mohler said the moneychangers would be urged through proclamation of the Gospel not to remain in their sin.
“They would not be welcome to remain as moneychangers any more than Jesus would just bless any kind of sin,” Mohler said.
“Remember, Jesus required the rich young ruler to sell all he had and give to the poor and he didn’t and he went away. Jesus doesn’t leave us as we are. He offers us His grace — salvation — but that’s a transforming grace to call us out of sin. Homosexuals would be welcomed. There would be no bouncers at the door at our church to keep them out but they would hear the authentic Gospel when they came inside.”