A Republican congressman is launching an inquiry into why a sign promoting a Christian film in downtown Cleveland was rejected by the billboard company as being too controversial while another promoting atheism is being allowed.
The 32 feet by 60 feet sign advertising the DVD release of the film “God’s Not Dead 2” would have been displayed on the side of a large building and seen by those arriving in Cleveland for the Republican National Convention Monday, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Instead, attendees will be greeted by another sign purchased by the atheist group the Freedom From Religion Foundation and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher wants to know why.
“I think it’s up to the Republicans to explain why something so significant to a vital part of its constituency was treated this way. There’s no excuse to be taking the Christian vote for granted,” the California congressman said, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Pure Flix Entertainment, the faith-based movie distributor responsible for the “God’s Not Dead 2,” was told their proposed sign was “too political” and “way too incendiary,” according to emails obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
The film is about a teacher, played by Melissa Joan Hart, who comes under fire for using scripture in the classroom. The billboard was to feature Hart along with the following message: “I’d rather stand with God and be judged by the world than stand with the world and be judged by God.”
The billboard company, Orange Barrel Media, told Pure Flix it didn’t like the “judged by God” message and “the issue might be the title of the movie,” according to the emails. “This would not be approved. Way too incendiary,” read one email.
The RNC would probably have had no objections, as former GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is in the movie. The GOP partnered with Pure Flix to have a worship service on Sunday before the Convention followed by a screening of the movie for the Republican delegates.
“I’m perplexed. They dragged us along for weeks,” said Steve Fedyski, the CEO of Pure Flix which had agreed to pay $64,100 for the sign prior to two months of negotiations. “Now, right up against the convention date, they say we aren’t approved, and they give us no logical rationale. My speculation is that someone somewhere didn’t want our message out.”
“The sign company has every right to make whatever decision it wants, but the Republican party should make demands that the views of Christians are welcome. We should ensure this sort of snobbery doesn’t happen at our convention,” Rohrabacher said. “This has nothing to do with Congress but with the party, and it shouldn’t be tolerated. I’ll be going to the people responsible for the convention, and find out if there was any discrimination.”
There was reportedly “no bias” intended as Orange Barrel CEO Pete Scantland told the Reporter.
Yet there were no apparent challenges or concerns over the pro-atheism message of the Freedom From Religion Foundation billboard positioned near the airport which features an image of President Ronald Reagan and the quote, “We establish no religion in this country.”
“I don’t know who is to blame, but I will be asking. I will be tracking this down,” Rohrabacher said. “This didn’t play out well, and it could cost the Republicans.”
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