Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
A bookstore in Kittanning, Pa., was told its advertisement in a local restaurant’s holiday menu was rejected by the ad publisher, simply because the store had the word “Christian” in its name.
Reverend Don Toy, owner of the Christian Book and Gift Store, told the Kittanning Paper that a salesman entered his store and sold him a business-sized, $135 advertisement to run in a special Christmas menu at Garda’s Restaurant in nearby Ford City.
But, Toy said, the salesman returned a few hours later and told him, “”We have a problem. I contacted headquarters. Our company has rejected your ad. They told me I have to return your check. We don’t take religious advertising. They are exercising the clause in the contract you signed [stating] their right to cancel with you.’”
Specifically, the clause in the contract with Brecht-Pacific Publishing, Incorporated, located in Longview, Wash., states the publisher “reserves the right to refuse, edit or omit any portion of any ad that we think is offensive, sensitive, questionable or otherwise not in good taste.”
When Toy asked how his ad violated the clause, the salesman explained it was rejected because of its name.
“It has the word ‘Christian’ in it,” the salesman reportedly said, and it might be considered “offensive” to non-Christians.
“You’ve got to be kidding!” Toy said. “I have heard about being politically correct, but this was beyond what I could imagine.”
Toy told WND that neither the sales representative nor the restaurant owner agreed with the decision, but that the call was made at corporate headquarters.
But when word of the controversy reached those headquarters, Toy told WND, he was contacted.
“A representative called me, wanting to clarify,” Toy said. “He explained that someone had misinterpreted the policy banning religious advertising to include a Christian bookstore as well. He said he regretted the error and his company would accept the ad.”
The representative further explained that the company had been sued several years ago by a satanic group for rejecting its ads and accepting those from Christian churches. Since then, the company had placed a “stop sign” on any ads that were expressly religious or political.
Ken Brecht, Vice-President of BPPI, told the Kittanning Paper, “We have made a policy not to put things [in our ads] – religious, political, things where people might be bothered by us taking a side – because we have to show all sides. For that reason and because of the issue with Satan worshipping – we are a company that mostly everyone who works for us, we believe, professes to be Christian – we don’t want to put Satan worshippers or Satan-worshipping insignias on menus. … That has been our policy not to offend anybody, because we certainly don’t find anything about being a Christian offensive.
“A gift shop is welcome to advertise on the menu,” he added, “and I apologize for what’s happened and how this has taken legs. I think it could have been avoided if somebody would have called and talked to me, but I apologize. It is not what I intended. I have no problem with his book store/gift store being on the menu.”
Toy, however, says that an apology and invitation to resubmit the ad wasn’t enough to earn back his business.
He told WND that he explained to the representative, “That your staff would even have a problem with the name ‘Christian’ is a sign of what’s going on in this country. For a nation founded on Judeo-Christian principles to have become so PC that someone would worry that the term ‘Christian’ could be offensive? It’s mind-boggling.”
The restaurant’s owner, Chris Arco, told the Kittanning Paper he too is not satisfied.
“I am trying everything I can do to get out from that [contract]. I am very much not happy,” Arco said. “I have never had to worry about an advertiser doing something like this, deeming a local Christian bookstore to not be appropriate. There is nothing wrong with that being placed on the menu.”