Tebow Ad Scores With Pro-Life Groups
Political Advocacy Tracker is a roundup of what Christian activist organizations have been talking about over the last week.
The Saints won the Superbowl, but another religious aspect of the game had advocacy groups' attention before the game.
In the days leading up to the big game—which garnered the largest TV audience in U.S. history, with 106 million viewers—CBS's decision to air an ad by Focus on the Family caused controversy. The ad, featuring Heisman Award winner Tim Tebow and his mother, Pam, was expected to be a pro-life ad focusing on the mother's decision to continue her pregnancy despite the urging of her doctors. Instead, it was a light-hearted ad that pointed viewers to the Focus website.
Focus's Gary Schneeberger said that reaction to the ad was much ado about nothing. "This wasn't political. This wasn't advocacy. This wasn't controversial. It's an inspirational story about a mother and son who love each other," said Schneeberger.
Tasha Easterling of the American Family Association and Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commision (ERLC) agreed that despite the controversy leading up to the big game, the ad was noncontroversial.
Frances Kissling, former president of Catholics for Choice concurred. Kissling was quoted by the Los Angeles Times as saying "If there had not been all of that publicity over the last two weeks, this ad could have passed almost unnoticed. Who would have known what they're talking about? It's so subtle."
Prior to the game, pro-choice groups including Planned Parenthood, the National Organization for Women (NOW), and the Women's Media Center opposed the airing of the ad. After the game, the Women's Media Center described the ad as a "benign telling of the Tebow family story that attempts to hide Focus on the Family's true anti-choice, anti-woman, and homophobic agenda."
Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America commented on NOW's opposition to the Tebow ad. "I find it laughable that NOW has a problem with Tim Tebow sharing his own story. If NOW really cared about women they would stop flacking for the abortion industry and start working on behalf of women and resolving our concerns about real problems such as sexually exploitative and violent content on television," she said.
Debt Relief for Haiti
Political advocacy groups that called for the cancellation of Haiti's foreign debt received good news from the U.S. Treasury Department. It will work with its global partners to forgive the Haitian government's outstanding debts.
Following the earthquake in Haiti, the New Evangelical Partnership (NEP) called for the forgiveness of Haiti's outstanding debt to other nations and institutions. The NEP petition was signed by the leaders of Evangelicals for Social Action, Sojourners, Evangelical Environmental Network, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and other Christian advocacy groups.
This week the U.S. Treasury joined the chorus. Secretary Timothy Geithner said the U.S. will work with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the G-7, and other partners to provide "comprehensive multilateral debt relief." The U.S. forgave Haiti's debts in 2009 following Haiti's successful completion of the IMF's Heavily Indebted Poor Country Initiative.
The NEP praised welcomed the news, reiterating its belief that "a nation buried in rubble should not also be buried in debt."
Hayley Hathaway of the Jubilee USA Network echoed this celebration on Sojourners God's Politics blog. "For those of us who work for social justice, victory can seem elusive. But then there are times when we mobilize at the right time with the right message and our leaders cannot help but listen and respond," said Hathaway. "This weekend was one of those times."