By John Jalsevac
SUDBURY, ON, March 10, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Canadian Television (CTV) has pulled an ad that claims it is possible to leave the homosexual lifestyle, sponsored by a Christian advocacy group, Life Productions, after the station received numerous complaints from pro-homosexual activists.
The 30-second spot is narrated by John Westcott, the founder of Exchange ministries, an organization that seeks to help practicing homosexuals who wish to leave the lifestyle. Westcott is himself a former homosexual, as is his wife Dena.
"You hear a lot about gay rights, gay marriage and the gay lifestyle being taught in our public schools for children," says Westcott in the ad, "but what many people don’t realize, and seldom hear, is that many homosexuals don’t want to be homosexual. What many who are struggling with homosexuality don’t realize, and seldom hear, is that they can change. I should know - for 13 years, I used to be one." Wescott then walks off the camera and an announcer says, "This message has been brought to you by Life Productions." (To see the ad, called "Exchanged Life", go to: http://www.lifeproductions.ca)
The ad ran for three days on a local CTV station in Sudbury Ontario, before it was pulled on March 3. Life Productions had intended to run the ad locally for an entire year.
Pro-Homosexual advocates, however, were enraged by the ad, calling it "hate" material, and deluged the television station and Life Productions with letters of complaint. A Facebook group against the ad was set up, entitled "Appalled with CTV Commercial - Homosexuality Cure??" (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=10517688297) Dr. Joel Dickinson, a faculty member at Laurentian University, led the charge, setting up and acting as an officer of the Facebook group, and corresponding with CTV personnel. LifeSiteNews.com attempted to interview Dr. Dickinson, but she responded that she was unable to fit the interview into her schedule.
At the time of the writing of this article, the facebook group had 1,172 members.
On March 6, Dickenson received a letter from CTV’s Vice-President of Public Affairs, Sarah Crawford. Crawford apologized to Dickenson on behalf of CTV, saying that the fact that the ad was ever aired was a result of "human error."
"I assure you," said Crawford, "that had CTV known the content of the ad, it would not have gone to air." Crawford told Dickenson that the ad had been screened by Telecaster Services, the voluntary, self-governing, commercial, infomercial and public service announcement (PSA) clearance committee that is required to review all ads in Canada prior to airing. Telecaster had approved the ad, although it had "flagged" it and given it a "mature" rating, thereby ensuring that it could not be aired prior to 9:00pm.
Crawford said that CTV failed to notice the "flag" on the ad, and did not review its content. "As a result, CTV Sudbury scheduled the ad without knowing that it contained problematic material that is inappropriate and unacceptable for our stations. The ad went to air, and consequently we received some complaints. Station personnel then reviewed the ad, deemed it inappropriate for telecast and immediately pulled it off the air."
Other than a general statement that CTV does not promote discrimination and is in favor of diversity, Crawford did not explicitly state what the "problematic" or "discriminatory" part of the ad was, nor what required that it be rated "mature."
"It is our corporate policy not to air advocacy ads of this nature," concluded Crawford. "Moreover, CTV television stations do not condone, promote or engage in discrimination against anyone based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability. We have a proud history of promoting diversity and building bridges of understanding between cultures both within our company and the communities in which we operate."
Scott Henderson, CTV’s vice-president of communications, also responded to complaints about the ad, saying, "We did try to act as quickly as possible on this. It was something that was taken very seriously at the highest levels of CTV. It’s completely against all of our own codes."
LifeSiteNews.com spoke to the director of Life Productions, Jason Johns, about the ad. He expressed his disappointment that the ad was pulled, especially on charges of "discrimination" or "hate".
"The commercial doesn’t promote hate. It doesn’t promote discrimination. It promotes knowledge, and information," Johns told LifeSiteNews. "And in no way did we attack the pro-gay advocates. What we were doing was reaching out to, and educating people that there is a community of people who practice homosexuality that are not interested in practicing homosexuality, in that they want help."
The idea that homosexuality is an inborn condition is one of the central doctrines of the pro-homosexual movement. However, there has been no scientific evidence to support this theory, and, Johns pointed out, the fact that there are hosts of men and women, such as John Westcott and his wife, claiming to be former homosexuals offers concrete evidence that homosexuality can, indeed, be treated.
Johns argued that it is ironic that CTV cited "discrimination" as the reason that the ad was pulled, since in pulling the ad CTV in fact discriminated both against Life Productions, and against those homosexuals who wish to leave the lifestyle, by revoking their freedom of speech.
"What about these people who want help, who the commercial was actually for?" he said. "I’m concerned about our freedom of speech as well. But we’re not necessarily in the same position that these people who want help, and who are really hurting, and who are struggling with this, and who are reaching out for help. If our freedom of speech is jeopardized, if it’s taken away, then who can advocate for these people? According to the pro-gay activists, no one is allowed to advocate for them. And I think that that’s where the real dictatorship and discrimination comes in."
Johns also said that it is ironic that his group is being accused of hatred. "They accuse us of hating, they accuse us of being haters, and discrimination. That’s just not true. We retain the e-mails that they do send us, because that’s evidence of where the real hatred and where the real discrimination exists," he said. Johns said that Life Productions has received so much hate mail of such a violent nature from homosexual activists that he is unwilling to disclose the physical location of the organization, since he and others involved in the group are concerned for the safety of their families.
Johns expressed his belief that the violent antipathy towards the idea that homosexuality may be an alterable condition on the part of homosexuals generates a hostile environment for those in the homosexual community who may desire to leave the lifestyle. "There’s a lot of fear and a lot of intimidation imposed by the pro-gay community, that I would think that anyone who claims to be homosexual and wants to get help, I think that in that sort of environment they would not feel comfortable voicing their opinion or their concern because of the response that they would get."
Life Productions’ ad, said Johns, was intended simply to encourage those who are dissatisfied with the homosexual lifestyle to seek the help that they desire. Life Productions itself does not perform counseling for homosexuality, but refers homosexuals who desire to be treated to other organizations that perform such counseling.
An opposing Facebook group, demanding that CTV agree to put the ads back on the air, has been setup here:
To e-mail Life Productions:
To visit their website:
To contact CTV:
CTV Sudbury (CICI)
699 Frood Road
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