Just weeks after the brouhaha over the Tim Tebow Super Bowl commercial ended, Focus on the Family finds itself again defending one of its pro-family ads.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association has removed an FOTF banner ad from one of its websites this week. The governing body of college sports explains that it came to the decision after receiving complaints, including from some of its members, that FOTF's views on same-sex relationships are in conflict with the NCAA's policy on sexual orientation.
But FOTF says there is no reason to pull the ad, which it describes as "benign" and non-political.
The ad pictures a dad holding his young son with the caption: "All I want for my son is for him to grow up knowing how to do the right thing." It includes the address to the FOTF's website and the title, "Celebrate Family. Celebrate Life."
"Have we really become a society where it's considered distasteful and controversial for a dad to hope the best for his son?" asked Gary Schneeberger, vice president of ministry communications at Focus on the Family, according to Citizenlink.com. "If so, we have a lot of soul-searching to do as a nation."
The ad formerly posted on the NCAA website was part of a CBS Super Bowl package that included the 30-second, pro-life commercial featuring Heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow and his mom. CBS maintains the NCAA website and sells ads to support the website, Schneeberger said. But the NCAA is allowed to review the ads.
Opponents of the ad say the problem is not the message but the group behind it.
Pat Griffin, who is a consultant to the NCAA on gay and lesbian issues, contends the message of "life" on the ad reflects FOTF's anti-abortion stance, and its calls to celebrate family only applies to heterosexual married families.
"It's not the right image or role for the NCAA to be endorsing an organization that has such an extreme right-wing Christian political mission," Griffin said, according to The Associated Press.
But FOTF maintains that the NCAA ad is similar if not more benign than the Tim Tebow commercial, which critics – after watching it – admitted was not controversial.
"The print ad now being protested is even more non-threatening – if that's possible," Schneeberger asserted. "It simply says, 'Focus on the Family is here to help you raise your kids, thrive in your marriage and tackle the challenges life throws your way.'"