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ESPN 'Jesus' ad accepted: Banned Christmas commercial approved after uproar

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Update: An ESPN Jesus ad is approved after a public uproar over its rejection Thursday. After a backlash ensued over the Disney-owned sports network's ban of the SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center Christmas PSA, ESPN reversed its decision and approved the "birth of Jesus" commercial, citing a Dec. 13 Fox News report.

Originally, ESPN said the Jesus 30-second Christmas commercial did not fit its approved ad types. Most specifically, they said the holiday ad must edit out any reference to "Jesus Christ" and "God."

A transcript of the original ESPN "Jesus" ad in question is:

At SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center, we celebrate the birth of Jesus and the season of giving, bringing hope to the many children, parents, and families that we serve. Our patients are filled with hope as they receive a message each day from the treasure chest beneath our tree of hope. Help us reveal God's healing presence this Christmas. Send your message of hope at"

The foundation, like many Catholics around the world, were enraged and stumped over why the network, unlike others, rejected the commercial in its vetting process.

Since 1956, the Catholic foundation has run similar ads with other media outlets without incident. However, it appeared ESPN's ban on Jesus and God on the air was an indictment of Christmas, as Doug Napier with Alliance Defending Freedom said.

ESPN came back to us and said it was denied due to religious advocacy. We were disappointed and dumbfounded with their decision," said Dan Buck, the Catholic foundation's executive director.

They told us the lines about 'Celebrate the birth of Jesus' and 'Help us reveal God's healing message' are 'problematic'. That's a quote from them," Buck added.

In a stunning reversal of the ESPN Jesus public service announcement, the company released this statement:

We have again reviewed the ads submitted for the SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center and have concluded that we will accept the original requested commercial. It will run in Saturday's VCU at Northern Iowa basketball game on ESPNU. This decision is consistent with our practice of individual review of all ads under our commercial advocacy standards.”

Although ESPN rejected the Jesus ad, it later had a change of heart. And in the final analysis, the original mission of the foundation was accomplished, despite the controversial road in getting there.


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