Archive of January 31, 2009

Rejection of pro-life Super Bowl ad criticized by creators

Chicago, Ill., Jan 31, 2009 (CNA) - NBC has rejected’s attempt to buy advertising time during the Super Bowl to show its pro-life ad. Though the network says it does not show ads involving “political advocacy or issues,” the ad’s creators have questioned whether a double standard is at work.

The ad displays an ultrasound of a baby, displaying the words “This child’s future is a broken home.” The ad says the unborn boy will be abandoned by his father and his single mother will struggle to raise him.

Despite the hardships, the ad continues, this child will become the first African-American president.

The ad then cuts to a picture of President Barack Obama.

“Life: Imagine the Potential,” the ad concludes.

On Thursday an NBC representative in Chicago told that NBC and the National Football League are not interested in advertisements involving “political advocacy or issues.”

“There is nothing objectionable in this positive, life-affirming advertisement,” Brian Burch, President of, said in a press release. “We show a beautiful ultrasound, something NBC's parent company GE has done for years. We congratulate Barack Obama on becoming the first African-American President. And we simply ask people to imagine the potential of every human life.”

As evidence of inconsistent application of Super Bowl advertising standards, Burch pointed to a controversy over an advertisement from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The ad displayed young women in sexually suggestive poses to promote vegetarianism.

An e-mail reportedly from Victoria Morgan, Vice President of Advertising Standards for Universal, was reproduced on the PETA web site explaining the ad’s rejection: “The PETA spot submitted to Advertising Standards depicts a level of sexuality exceeding our standards.”

The e-mail to PETA detailed “edits that need to be made” in order for the ad to run.

"NBC claims it doesn't allow advocacy ads, but that's not true. They were willing to air an ad by PETA if they would simply tone down the sexual suggestiveness. Our ad is far less provocative, and hardly controversial by comparison," said Burch.

On Friday, the PETA ad was definitively banned by NBC.

Burch said was seeking other venues for the advertisement, which ran in Chicago on BET on Inauguration Day.

The ad will run on Sunday on EWTN during its “Faith Bowl II” programming, which begins at 5:30 Eastern Time. The programming analyzes the role that Catholicism and Christianity play in professional and collegiate sports.

As of Friday afternoon, the YouTube video of the ad has had more than 910,000 views since being posted to the site on January 18.

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Minnesota Catholic school revokes honors for legislator over abortion

Minneapolis, Minn., Jan 31, 2009 (CNA) - A Catholic high school in Minnesota has denied honors for a state legislator who is a candidate for governor, citing his active support for “pro-choice issues.”

Holy Angels Academy in Richfield, Minnesota had considered alumnus State Rep. Paul Thissen  as a nominee for its Activities Hall of Fame, which recognizes those who “through their citizenship and achievements, have brought honor to themselves, their school and the community.”

Thissen, a 1985 graduate of the school, was to accept the honor at a January ceremony, the Star Tribune reports.

However, the school’s president called Thissen days before the ceremony and asked him to withdraw his name from consideration. He refused and was told the day before the ceremony he would be stripped of the award because of his support for abortion as a state legislator of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.

According to the school, an alumnus’ record at the academy constitutes the primary criteria for the award but the nominating committee also considers activities and professional life afterward. Thissen’s legislative actions contradicted Catholic teaching.

"Mr. Thissen had an outstanding activities career at Holy Angels and has had much success beyond," the school's president, Jill Reilly said in a statement.

However, she reported that the nominating committee was not aware of his voting record regarding “right-to-life issues.”

“As a result of Mr. Thissen's public and professional position to actively support pro-choice issues, with regret, AHA has chosen not to include Mr. Thissen among this year's inductees,” Reilly said, according to the Star Tribune.

Thissen reportedly wrote a letter to Reilly citing his record as a proponent of health care coverage for children and as an advocate for the poor. He cited his participation in football, basketball and track while at the academy and also noted his position as president of the student council.

 “It's not the biggest thing in the world, but the school was and is important to me," Thissen told the Star Tribune. “Many of my closest friends, even today, were my friends back then. The recognition meant a lot.

“When I heard about this, I really was disappointed, not so much because of the award, but because the award was for something that had nothing to with my position on giving women the choice of what to do during a pregnancy.”

Thissen is reportedly a regular Mass attendee and has been a frequent contributor to the school.

Explaining its decision, Holy Angels Academy referred to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ document “Catholics in Political Life.” The 2004 document states that those in public life who do not work to correct abortion laws are “guilty of cooperating in evil and sinning against the common good.”

Dennis McGrath, spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, told the Star Tribune that the archdiocese did not intervene in the matter, calling it “purely a decision by the school.”

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