Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor - Church ads promote hatred

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to a recent series of ads written by the Berryville Church of Christ pastor and published by this paper. I will not use this forum to address the pastor's absurd attacks on the Catholic faith. Rather I am writing to question the wisdom and good taste of CCN for agreeing to print these so-called ads. The issue is not one of freedom of speech but of advertising discretion. Of course the paper has the right to print whatever it chooses, but every paper has to make judgments about what is right to print. What does it say about our community newspaper, and what sort of image does it project of our community, that the paper is willing to print one man's attacks on other faith traditions? Is the paper really fulfilling its responsibility to the community in publishing these ads?

In fact, these advertisements are not really ads. They do not sell any product or promote any service. They do not even so much attempt to share the pastor's own faith as to smear a faith that the pastor obviously knows little about.

While it can be argued that religion is an issue of community interest, especially in an area where many citizens are people of faith, such contentious advertisements are hardly the venue for addressing religious issues in a serious way, and they do not serve the interests of the broader community. To the contrary, such ads can only draw negative attention to the community and portray Carroll County as an inhospitable place.

Finally, I would like to know what the paper's criteria are for deciding whose hate-speech can be published. If you are willing to print something proclaiming that the faith leader of a billion people teaches "doctrines of the devil," where do you draw the line? What if someone were willing to pay for ads denigrating Muslims, Jews, women, or ethnic groups?

I hope that in the future CCN will be more discerning in fulfilling its responsibility to all of its citizens.

Laura Hanby Hudgens