When the Miami Herald refused to carry an Easter advertisement submitted by Jesus Fellowship, an 800-member, nondenominational charismatic church in the city, the congregation fought back via the Internet.
Publisher David Lawrence, Jr., would not allow the congregation to advertise its Easter services on the paper's home-delivery yellow polybag covers used to protect newspapers from foul weather.
Church leaders say they were told the ad, which featured the words Jesus Fellowship in large letters, was "offensive." The church turned to the Internet to publicize its plight, posting a "Religious Discrimination at The Miami Herald" title on its Web site and asking readers to e-mail the Herald with protests. The church says it received 2,000 copies of e-mail protests.
After a visit from the church's attorney, the publisher ran the advertisement three times inside the newspaper at no cost. Lawrence, who is Roman Catholic, also published an editorial on Easter asking readers what they would do in his place. The response was 3 to 2 in the paper's favor, the Herald reported.
"It seems to me insensitive to many people of another faith to go outside their doors in the morning, expect their newspaper, and be greeted by a bag on behalf of another faith," Lawrence wrote. "It also seems to me that many Christians would feel exactly the same about that bag on behalf of a non-Christian faith."
Pastor Rick Patterson found such reasoning illogical. "If it is 'insensitive' on the outside of the polybag, then it is insensitive on the inside of the paper," he says.1
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