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FIRST-PERSON: Another Focus ad ‘controversy’

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–“It’s not the right image or role for the NCAA to be endorsing an organization that has such an extreme right-wing Christian political mission,” Pat Griffin wrote on her blog. Griffin is a retired University of Massachusetts Amherst professor and a consultant to the NCAA on homosexual issues.

What has the National Collegiate Athletic Association done that has Griffin so up in arms? It posted a Focus on the Family advertisement on the NCAA’s “Championships” website.

The Championships website promotes all national championship tournaments governed by the NCAA, the most notable being the 64-team college basketball championship tournament.

The ad itself seems innocuous enough with the announced theme proclaiming: Celebrate Family. Celebrate Life. The content of the advertisement is a man holding a young boy with the caption: “All I want for my son is for him to grow up knowing how to do the right thing.” Included in the ad is the Focus logo, the phrase “Helping Families Thrive,” and contact information for the group.

Homosexual activists complained, arguing that because Focus is such an “extremist, fringe group” that an anti-homosexual message is implied by the ad. Activists also charged that running the ad violated the NCAA policy on advertising related to “cause related organizations.”

Griffin wrote, “They [Focus on the Family] want to impose their values on the NCAA tournament and college basketball fans…. I am deeply offended by the NCAA’s complicity in this.”

The NCAA caved to activists’ demands and pulled the advertisement.

The general reaction to the Focus on the Family ad by homosexual activists and Griffin’s words, in particular, provided great insight.

Focus, according to Griffin, is an “extremist right-wing” organization because it believes that homosexuality and abortion are morally wrong. At least two recent studies indicate that many, if not most, Americans hold the same views as Focus. So, are most Americans extreme right-wingers?

A USA Today/Gallup Poll released in May 2009 found that 57 percent of Americans oppose “gay marriage,” and a Pew Research Center poll from October 2009 found that nearly half of the public (49 percent) “says homosexual behavior is morally wrong.”

A May 2009 Gallup Poll discovered that 51 percent of Americans now call themselves “pro-life.” According to Gallup, “This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995.”

If you are like many Americans you are not comfortable with homosexuality being deemed morally legitimate and on par with heterosexuality. According to some, though, your views fall into the category of extremist.

Another very telling aspect of the activists’ reaction to the Focus ad is revealed when Griffin indicates that Focus wants “to impose their values.” According to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary the word “impose” means “force to be accepted.” How does an ad, no matter how overt or subtle, constitute an effort at imposition?

If any group is attempting to impose a particular view on America it is homosexual groups who have appealed to the court system in an effort to impose their view on Americans.

Citizens in 31 states have voted to reject “homosexual marriage” as legitimate and equal with traditional matrimony. In a few of these states — such as California — homosexual activists have tried to use the courts to overturn the will of the people.

An advertisement does not constitute an effort at imposition, but using the court system to force society to endorse your lifestyle is clearly an effort to impose your values.

Griffin also maintains that the Focus ad conveys an implied anti-homosexual message because of the organization’s beliefs. Even if you have a working knowledge of Focus’ beliefs, it is quite an intellectual leap to see the phrase, “All I want for my son is for him to grow up knowing how to do the right thing,” as implying an anti-homosexual message. But it’s a leap some make in a single bound.

I would argue that most Americans know little about Focus on the Family, which is the reason Focus advertized during the Super Bowl and was seeking to run ads on the NCAA website.

The Focus strategy seems to be to run a positive advertisement that will hopefully lead people to investigate further, via the web or a phone call, to find out more about the organization. In so doing, Focus believes they can introduce themselves to many people, and in turn, help strengthen families.

Homosexual activists sought to have the ad removed from the NCAA website because they don’t want Americans to learn for themselves about Focus on the Family. In reality, Focus on the Family reflects the beliefs of many, if not most, Americans. Thanks to the spinelessness of the NCAA, the activists were successful. You tell me, who is really extreme?
Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press and editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.

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  • Kelly Boggs