A Belfast church criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for an advert deemed to be homophobic has lost a subsequent independent review. The offending advert that contained quotations from the Bible was said to be inappropriate for twenty-first-century advertising. The church is considering a further appeal to the High Court.
The advert was placed in the Belfast News Letter last summer by Sandown Free Presbyterian Church in the run-up to a gay pride march in the city. It contained verses from Leviticus and 1 Corinthians describing homosexual sex as an ‘abomination’ and invited readers to join a protest march.
The ASA said it received seven complaints that the advert was offensive and/or likely to provoke violence. It ruled: ‘The complainants were justified in believing that some of the text used in the ad was homophobic, implying that homosexual people were perverted and an abomination’. However, the ASA rejected the accusation that the ad was likely to provoke violence.
Bible not to be quoted verbatim
An independent reviewer of the judgement told the church: ‘It was reasonable for the council to consider that codes of conduct and sanctions laid down in biblical works from several millennia ago may not be communicated verbatim and indiscriminately in 21st century advertising’.
Rev. David McIlveen, minister at Sandown Free Presbyterian Church, said: ‘This is a great offence to every Bible-believer from a reviewer who professes to defend the offended. We take great exception to the council’s conclusion that the advertisement implied that homosexual people were perverted and an abomination. The council clearly fails to appreciate that it was the act of sodomy in which our opposition was directed’.
The advert quoted from Leviticus 18:22: ‘Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind; it is an abomination’ and from 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, which says: ‘Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?
‘Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God’.