The latest Focus on the Family ad featuring our “Celebrate Family. Celebrate Life” message was banned last week by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Here’s what happened. In short, our agreement with CBS Sports to run the Tim and Pam Tebow ad in the Super Bowl included the placement of banner ads on various Web sites which the network maintains. One of those outlets was a Web site for the NCAA basketball tournament.
I should point out the banner ad had nothing to do with the topic of abortion or sexuality or any other “hot button” issue. It simply pictured a smiling Dad holding his happy son with this copy: “All I want for my son is for him to grow up knowing how to do the right thing.” Naturally, those who clicked on the ad were introduced to the resources provided by Focus on the Family to help families thrive.
What could be controversial with that?
According to NCAA spokesman, Bob Williams, the NCAA made its decision “after some of its members—including faculty and athletic directors—expressed concern that the evangelical group’s stance against gay and lesbian relationships conflicted with the NCAA’s policy of inclusion regardless of sexual orientation.” In other words, as The Associated Press pointed out, “The decision to pull the ad was based not on the message but on the messenger.”
Within hours of the NCAA’s decision, hundreds of comments directed at Focus on the Family–many in poor taste–started hitting the blogosphere. Some characterized us as a “terrorist extremist group”, “evangelical scum”, “noxious bigots”, “Christo-Nazis”—even an “evangelical cult.”
All of which leaves me to scratch my head and wonder, isn’t tolerance supposed to be a two-way street? Those who disagree ideologically with us deserve our respect despite those disagreements. Shouldn’t we be afforded the same courtesy as we discuss issues that matter to families?
Of course, I understand respecting one another and agreeing with their position on marriage, family, sexuality, the sanctity of human life or any other social or economic issue are not the same thing. While I have respect for those who are reject the principles I believe in, I also should have the freedom to disagree with them while engaging in mutually civil discussion.
Allow me a final observation. I was a bit surprised by something Bob Williams said. He explained that advertisers such as ourselves can be excluded if they “do not appear to be in the best interests of higher education and student athletes.”
I would love an opportunity to meet with Bob to discover how our message—“All I want for my son is for him to grow up knowing how to do the right thing”—is inconsistent with the “best interests” of “student athletes.” Wouldn’t the world be a better place if more of us did the right thing, and isn’t wanting your child to know right from wrong something all parents aspire to teach their children?