This week CNN has been airing a controversial ad featuring Ron Reagan describing himself as an atheist who is “not afraid of burning in hell” while warning of “the intrusion of religion into our secular government.”
The following is a transcript of the TV ad promoting the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) and featuring the son of President Ronald Reagan:
Hi, I’m Ron Reagan, an unabashed atheist, and I’m alarmed by the intrusion of religion into our secular government. That’s why I’m asking you to support the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the nation’s largest and most effective association of atheists and agnostics, working to keep state and church separate, just like our Founding Fathers intended. Please support the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Ron Reagan, lifelong atheist, not afraid of burning in hell.
Ron Reagan is the son of former President Ronald Reagan, and has previously worked as a talk radio host and political analyst for KIRO radio and later, Air America Radio, where he hosted his own daily three-hour show. Currently he is a commentator and contributor to programming on MSNBC.
Last year the ad promoting Freedom From Religion aired on both “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central. However, the ad was rejected not only by “60 Minutes,” the original desired placement, but by the entire CBS TV network.
In fact, ABC, NBC (including the cable network MSNBC), CBS and Fox all have declined to run the ad, but it has aired locally in some metropolitan markets.
Speaking with Newsmax, FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor said the freethought group also tried to air the ad on the last episode of the revamped “Cosmos” on Fox broadcast network and was rejected.
We believe in free speech, but in this climate even paid speech by unbelievers is often censored.
Gaylor reports NBC did agree to air the ad if Reagan’s closing line about not being afraid of burning in hell were removed, noting:
I said, ‘Well, that’s the punchline. That’s funny.’
If somebody doesn’t believe in hell, you can’t even say that on the air? To run into this kind of censorship, I am an unbeliever, but I find this unbelievable.
In reality, there is nothing controversial about the ad except the fact that networks have chosen to censor it. The ad is nothing more than a common sense plea to respect the secular values upon which this nation was founded and support the separation of church and state guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
Cheers for CNN for having the courage and good sense to run the ad, and cheers for the Freedom From Religion Foundation for promoting nontheism and defending the constitutional separation between religion and government.