Reuters: Methodist ad can appear on our Times Square billboard
It's rare to see the United Methodist Church and liberal mainliners like the National Council of Churches complaining about having their religious viewpoint excluded from the public square. That's something that's more often left to conservatives—unless it's liberals complaining about the attention paid by the media to the religious right.

But this week, the mainliners have been mobilized against the Reuters news agency after it went back on a $30,000 contract to air ads for the United Methodist Church on its 7,000 square-foot electronic billboard in New York City's Times Square. The news agency explained that it does not allow "pornographic, political, religious, libelous, misleading, or deceptive" ads on its billboard.

Of course, the mainliners cast the debate in different terms than evangelicals would have, had, say, a Southern Baptist Convention ad been rejected. "The public square is becoming increasingly like private property, overtaken by larger and larger corporations who control more and more of our channels of communication, from cable to broadcast networks to newspapers to billboards," the NCC lamented.

If we get to the point where a handful of corporations can buy up the walls of the town square and rule that certain topics, like religious faith, cannot be expressed there—even when those who wish to speak are willing to pay for the opportunity—American democracy will truly be at risk. … Are we afraid that hearing these voices could change the agenda of the conversation from consumption to conscience? … If religious speech is banned from the public marketplace, the remaining dialogue will revolve solely around getting and spending.

This week, the cries ...

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