An ESPN "Jesus" ad accepted to be shown on public television was initially met with great resistance by ESPN, sparking a massive debate over the ability to allow an explicitly religious theme to pass the censors and be played nationally. Although the ad was initially said to be kicked off the air for saying the words “Jesus” and then “God,” it has since been agreed upon to air the controversial commercial. The Christian Post shares the circumstances surrounding this hard-earned decision this Monday, Dec. 16, 2013.
Having the ESPN "Jesus" ad finally accepted was no small task for the commercial closely tied to the Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center. It seems the advertisement was temporarily banned from being put on the popular sports programming network because of its clear religious themes (and outright mention of “Jesus”), though the commercial only meant to show support for the sick kids at the medical center.
After CGMC officially submitted the Christmas-themed commercial to be aired on ESPN, hesitation was received from the network over the Jesus ad. Although there were no issues with asking people to send heartfelt messages and cards to very ill children with their new program, a Tree of Hope campaign, the showing of Jesus and talk of God actually had it kicked off the air for a time.
"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," the commercial said. "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 Glennon.org."
The usage of these Christian names were described as being problematic in the eyes of the sports network, as ESPN’s advertising policy claims they will not allow for “political or religious advocacy” pieces. Yet harsh criticism over the TV station preventing it from being aired was met by the public, and the ESPN “Jesus” ad was accepted at last. However, its passing was still met with the stipulation that it needed to be altered in order to fit their guidelines, until a greater public rally came to the rescue.
“Political talk show host Bill O'Reilly and former governor Sarah Palin both mentioned ESPN as anti-Christmas, encouraging them to support the "reason for the season"— the birth of Jesus Christ. That led to the outcry from many of their fans and listeners, and ESPN caved to the pressure and reversed their decision on the ESPN Jesus ad controversy.”