A petition opposing Radio Disney's censorship of an ad promoting the upcoming Ten Commandments movie is in need of greater support as the film release draws near.
Liberty Counsel, a non-profit legal group, launched the petition earlier this month asking Disney "to reverse its policy and issue a formal apology to Promenade Pictures and people of faith across this nation" after it made the move to strip the ad's original reference to God – a move many Christians are calling "ridiculous."
"Disney needs to get out of the business of censoring religious expression and focus instead on providing content that uplifts our families and our heritage of faith, as does this movie about Moses and the Ten Commandments," reads the petition
As of Wednesday evening, the petition has gathered at least 11,865 signatures. It needs a total of 25,000 signers before the movie's nationwide theatrical release on Friday, Oct. 19.
Cindy Bond, president and CEO of Promenade, Pictures, which produced the new movie, was strongly opposed to Radio Disney's move to alter the original ad for Ten Commandments.
"God in our movie is the main character. You rip the whole guts out of the piece," she told Fox News.
The original radio spot script states that Moses was "chosen by God," but after a media buyer for Promenade submitted the text for a spot on Radio Disney, the company responded with an e-mail requesting the phrase be replaced with a reference to the studio instead.
"Our BS&P (Broadcast Standards and Procedures) said both scripts need to include the studio mention and omit the following line: CHOSEN BY GOD.... Please let me know if you have any questions," reads the Oct. 2 email.
Although she found Disney's rejection of the ad "offensive," Bond said she did comply with Disney's instructions since they didn't want to risk losing Radio Disney listeners who are their "exact core audience."
"If you get them into the theater, they'll hear plenty about God," she added.
Radio Disney has denied having an agenda to remove God from their ads, saying mention of God isn't prohibited in the company's standards and procedures. In other media reports, the company said that since the phrase "chosen by God" was announced following the naming of several actors, it sounded as though the actors were chosen by God, not Moses.
But many supporters of the movie are still unconvinced the instruction was benign.
Bond agreed that "there's definitely a prejudice when you get into the God of the Bible."
Mathew D. Staver, founder of the group that launched the petition to Disney, has appeared in a 3-minute video preview, broadcasted on Daystar satellite TV network and in over 70 churches, explaining the importance of the Ten Commandments.
According to Liberty Counsel, Radio Disney touts itself as the "ultimate music environment for kids and families" yet has promoted other movies that reference mythical gods, Tiki gods, Navaho gods and animal gods mythical gods.
"It is shocking that Radio Disney censored God from the ad promoting this movie," expressed Staver in a statement. "Walt Disney would have been sadly disappointed to hear that Radio Disney censored God from one of the greatest stories ever told."
The upcoming Ten Commandments film is the first installment of a 12-part series called "Epic Stories of the Bible" from Promenade Pictures. The second release in the series will be Noah's Ark: The New Beginning due out in 2008.
On the Web: View the petition at lc.org