Homosexual-rights activists have been taken aback by the decision of Viacom’s LOGO television channel to reject an ad from the United Church of Christ targeted to “gays.”

A LOGO sales associate for the MTV-operated network informed UCC it would not be able to air the 30-second commercial, called “Ejector,” “because of the political nature of its content.”

“Our guidelines state we will not accept religious advertisements that may be deemed as disparaging to another religion,” UCC was told.

Ron Buford, who directs the denomination’s Stillspeaking Initiative, says the church’s new ad uses humor to convey a message of “extravagant welcome.”

“God doesn’t reject people,” he said. “Neither do we.”

The commercial features several short vignettes of people attending a traditional church service and finding themselves unwelcome. A black mother and her crying baby, an Arab American and a person in a walker are sent off into the air when someone pushes an “ejector” button. The ad switches to a friendly, diverse congregation and the voiceover says, “The United Church of Christ – no matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you’re welcome here.”

The UCC was the first mainline denomination to sanction homosexual marriage last July, having also been the first to ordain openly gay ministers in 1972. Its “open and affirming” position toward homosexuals, passed in 1985 by the national body, has been adopted by fewer than 10 percent of the UCC churches.

Since July’s vote to sanction same-sex marriage, 97 congregations have pulled out of the denomination.

The UCC has a “crisis of lost churches, lost funds and lost unity brought about by the actions of our national leadership,” said Rev. Dr. Bob Thompson of Corinth Reformed Church in Hickory, N.C., who heads up the Faithful and Welcoming Churches of the United Church of Christ, an evangelical renewal organization that is tracking the UCC exodus.

UCC has spent $1.5 million on the “Ejector” ad, which is scheduled to run through the Easter season on CNN, USA, TNT, BET and eight other cable networks. The two leading Spanish-language channels, Telemundo and Univision refused to carry it, although UCC has scheduled showings on smaller Spanish-language outlets.

But it is the rejection by the “gay” network that most baffled Buford, who insists “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons” need a welcoming, affirming Christian message,

“I guess the idea of ‘gay’ TV doesn’t really mean it’s your community’s network,” Buford said. “It’s just something that’s targeted at you to sell product.”

A similar campaign in 2004, featuring bouncers outside a church who stopped same-sex couples, racial minorities and others from entering, was rejected by CBS and NBC for their broadcast, but not their cable, channels. A complaint by UCC against affiliates in Miami is still pending with the FCC.

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