Last summer I blogged about how CBS and NBC had censored an ad that was part of the United Church of Christ’s “God Is Still Speaking” ad campaign. The ad, which did run on many cable networks, portrays the UCC as an inclusive church open to all people. I subsequently discovered the church had issued a press release welcoming SpongeBob Squarepants to the church after Focus on the Family founder James C. Dobson implied the character was gay for holding hands with another male character. (See this photo gallery of his “visit” to their Ohio headquarters.) The UCC is a 1.3 million member denomination that decided they needed to work on their public image because others — most notably conservatives — were purporting to speak for Christianity. Revisiting the initiative it turns out this fall the “controversial” ad won the Association of National Advertisers 2005 Multicultural Excellence Award.
Clicking around their website I’m beginning to think the UCC-affiliated Congregational church I attended in Maine may have influenced my politics:
God can blow the lid off any box, unfold it and turn it into a dance floor. We tend to be the â€œout of the boxâ€? people. Among our many firsts, we were the first mainline church to take a stand against slavery (1700), the first to ordain an African American person (1785), the first to ordain a woman (1853), the first in foreign missions (1810), and the first to ordain openly gay lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons (1972). We value education for all people. We founded Harvard and Yale, as well as many historically black colleges, six of which remain affiliated with the UCC to this day.