***Update***: Here is the ad in question (PDF)
UU World is the free denominational magazine for the Unitarian Unversalist Association.
In their Fall, 2009 issue, they printed a paid ad from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. I don’t have a scan of it at the moment, but to my understanding, it featured their six bus ads with a request for donations so FFRF could place the posters across the country.
The ad placement makes sense — a lot of atheists belong to UU congregations and would be likely donors to FFRF’s ad campaign.
But several UU readers couldn’t believe such an ad was allowed in their magazine.
I am stunned, appalled and very disappointed with the managerial decision at the UU World to publish a FULL PAGE advertisement by the Freedom From Religion Foundation in the Unitarian Universalist denominational magazine. This organization is not merely atheist or agnostic — they are ANTI-religion. We have absolutely no business carrying their advertising in our denominational magazine.
I am deeply offended by the ad copy, which suggests that anyone who believes in God thinks that fairy tales are true, and that such a belief is tantamount to slavery. And furthermore, I am embarrassed that people in my congregation will see this. I have worked so hard to help my congregation claim and own their religious feelings and feel GOOD about being religious people. How can I explain this?
Of course, FFRF’s purpose is the promote church/state separation and to educate the public on non-theism. FFRF also helps atheists realize there are others out there like them, hence the ads.
Not only that, but the bus ads that FFRF places are not going after the type of community and spirituality that UU congregations tend to promote. FFRF tends to go after the Religious Right and the religious extremists who want to force their views onto everybody else.
So you would hope the UU World business manager would defend placing such an ad. Not everyone will be a fan of FFRF, but there was nothing inherently wrong in publicizing a non-theistic stance.
Those hopes were dashed by business manager Scott Ullrich:
I have come to the conclusion that it was a mistake to run this particular ad. While the stated mission of the Freedom From Religion Foundation is entirely consistent with UU values, this ad seems hostile to all religion. To be more specific, I believe that I failed to help the advertiser match their message to our readers. An ad spotlighting FFRF’s purpose of “working for the separation of state and church” would have been more appropriate than one that for many appears to be condemning religion in general.
That’s a depressing response. The ads are not hostile to religion. They simply showcase famous people who happened to be atheists. They reach out to others who may think the same way, which do happen to be many UU folks. What look to be a few vocal opponents forced the magazine to apologize for a perfectly appropriate ad.
I’ll post the ad once I get a copy of it.
(Thanks to Steve for the link!)