A large Dallas church is fighting back after a New York-based advertising company abruptly canceled its contract, removing billboards it deemed offensive in an affront to conservative values and free speech.
The advertising company, OutFront Media, seems to have been urged to action (at least in part) by a sardonic opinion piece published in The Dallas Morning News, titled “First Baptist Pastor Robert Jeffress’ Gospel of Division Does Not Represent My Dallas.”
The billboards, according to a press release by the First Baptist Church of Dallas, promoted “Freedom Sunday,” an event scheduled for the morning of June 24. Its purpose, said senior pastor Robert Jeffress, is to “celebrate freedom as Americans and our freedom in Christ with patriotic worship and a sermon I’ve titled, ‘America is a Christian Nation.'”
To be clear: The words “America is a Christian Nation” are what got columnist Robert Wilonsky fired up enough to pitch a politically correct fit in an op-ed.
That’s not all. He also tweeted a picture of the billboard to city leaders, among them Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, a Democrat, who could not resist the temptation to sling his own left-wing rhetoric.
“I don’t mind someone being proud of the Christian tradition in America — it’s obviously there,” said Rawlings in a comment included in Wilonsky’s op-ed. “But one of the strengths of Dallas is our faith-based community, [and] it’s the strength that makes us a city of love versus a city of hate.”
A true leader would have stayed neutral, in an effort to uphold the Constitution. Instead, it seems Rawlings pressured OutFront Media — even if indirectly — to drop its contract with the megachurch.
Further, the press release noted this: The billboard company pointed to The Dallas Morning News article and classified the words, “America is a Christian Nation” as “anger-provoking,” and even refused the church’s offer to recast the title of the message in the form of a question: “Is America a Christian Nation?”
To be sure, one does not need to adhere to the Christian faith to realize the gravity and seriousness of this incident.
“A billboard company has every right to choose not to advertise a message they disagree with, just like the baker in Colorado that the Supreme Court supported two weeks ago,” Pastor Jeffress told Lifezette.
“However, the fact that our city’s mayor and the largest newspaper actively lobbied against our advertisement is egregious,” he continued. “No speech, especially religious speech, should ever be censored. Our mayor and local press didn’t have a conniption when atheist groups put out billboards during Christmas mocking the holiday and people of faith. The liberal double standard is clear.”
Carly Zipp, senior director of communications, sponsorships, and events for OutFront, told LifeZette the company had no comment on the billboards issue.
Her silence, however, speaks volumes about how little the company values religious liberty and freedom of speech.
“America was founded on the principles of the Christian faith. Regardless, we will not be deterred as we defend the foundational values of our country.”
“It should greatly concern people of any faith when those in the press or government proactively seek to defeat, censor or silence any religious message with which they disagree,” noted Jeffress in his press release. “I would not object to someone placing a billboard that said, ‘America is NOT a Christian Nation’ or ‘America is a Muslim Nation.’ The reason those on the Left do not want people to hear my message is that they know the historical evidence is on my side, that America was founded on the principles of the Christian faith. Regardless, we will not be deterred as we defend the foundational values of our country.”
Elizabeth Economou is a former CNBC staff writer and adjunct professor. Follow her on Twitter.
(photo credit, homepage image: Dallas News)