National Council of Churches Responds to Reuters' Billboard Controversy

October 29, 2003

Source: The National Council of Churches

On October 29, 2003 The National Council of Churches released a statement responding to the decision by Reuters Corporation refusing to sell space to the United Methodist Church on Reuters' electronic billboard in New York's Times Square. Their decision was solely on the basis of a policy not to accept any religious advertising, regardless of content. The statement by the NCC declares that "To imply that religious and political speech might be in the same class with messages that are 'pornographic... libelous, misleading or deceptive in nature,' as Reuters did in explaining its refusal to carry the United Methodist ad, is a frightening use of the power of media ownership. The fact that 17 broadcast and cable networks and scores of local TV stations have already carried the United Methodist ad is evidence enough that the problem is not with the ad -- it is with Reuters' policy. The free and vigorous expression of ideas and values, and the positive message of religious faith in particular, is an essential ingredient in the American way of life, especially in these days of religious pluralism and the need for mutual understanding. "