Christian Film Billboard Ad Deemed Too Incendiary

| by Michael Allen

A billboard ad for the DVD release of a Christian film will not appear in Cleveland near the Republican National Convention.

Orange Barrel Media, the billboard company, had problems with the "God's Not Dead 2" ad featuring the film's star Melissa Joan Hart and the text, "I’d rather stand with God and be judged by the world than stand with the world and be judged by God," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Emails from Orange Barrel Media to Pure Flix, the movie's producer, said the "judged by God" part was "too political" and "way too incendiary."

"God's Not Dead 2" stars Hart as a Christian teacher who ends up in a fictional court case for mentioning Jesus in her classroom.

Unidentified sources at Orange Barrel thought the film's title was also a problem.

Orange Barrel referred to the RNC's rules banning "scandalous" signs, but Pure Flix countered that the RNC would support the billboard ads, and that former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee appears in the film.

Additionally, the RNC and Pure Flix are coordinating a religious service and a screening of the movie.

Orange Barrel also thought the city of Cleveland could object to the message, but a spokesperson for the mayor said the city didn't have problems with the message.

Steve Fedyski, CEO of Pure Flix, told The Hollywood Reporter:

I’m perplexed. They dragged us along for weeks. Now, right up against the convention date, they say we aren’t approved, and they give us no logical rationale. My speculation is that someone, somewhere didn’t want our message out. It’s hard to understand, considering we’ve used the same marketing on CNN and other national networks.

Orange Barrel CEO Pete Scantland countered: "They picked the building and the size, and advertised that it was available. They gave us a budget and deadlines and we met all of it, then they put us on hold. We missed a primary promotional opportunity."

An ad by the Freedom From Religion Foundation on a Clear Channel billboard including a picture of former President Ronald Reagan and his quote, "We establish no religion in this country," will appear in Cleveland.

"It’s near the airport, right after the 'Welcome to Cleveland’ sign,'" Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF spokeswoman, said. "The idea was that people flying in to the convention couldn’t miss it."

The Reagan quote comes from a speech he made in 1984, according to the Jewish Virtual Library:

We in the United States, above all, must remember that lesson, for we were founded as a nation of openness to people of all beliefs. And so we must remain. Our very unity has been strengthened by our pluralism. We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate. All are free to believe or not believe, all are free to practice a faith or not, and those who believe are free, and should be free, to speak of and act on their belief.
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