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Culture Challenge of the Week: Jesus on Trial at Easter

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

“Did it Really Happen?”

That’s the question at the heart of a short, tasteful ad created by a Christian church in California.

As part of its annual Easter outreach, the Compass Bible Church created a video advertisement that it planned to run in several Orange County movie theaters.

The ad is dynamic and simple. (See it on YouTube or click here.) It lists ancient skeptical remarks about the Resurrection, such as “The disciples stole the body” and repeatedly flashes the question, “Did it really happen?” The ad closes with the words, “Why we believe in the Resurrection,” and lists the time and place of the Church’s Easter services. (The Easter services, held at UC-Irvine, typically draw about 5,000 people.)

But the media company tasked with approving the advertisements said, “No.”

Why? The real reason is because the ad intrigues and compels. And it just might succeed in getting people to Church to find out more about Jesus and why the Church celebrates His Resurrection.

The decision-makers at NCM Media Networks apparently feel that’s a risk they don’t want to take.

The company’s stated objection? The ad mentions the name of Jesus. And that violates the company’s content prohibitions and is “too controversial” besides.

Over two thousand years ago, powerful people tried to silence Jesus. Are we really surprised that people in power are still trying to silence him today?

But just as when Jesus walked the earth and common people followed him in flocks, many reaching out in faith simply hoping to touch the hem of his garments, it seems the less-than-powerful of today still want to know who this Jesus is. Do we find it strange that while media executives want to silence him, a readers’ poll in the Orange County paper showed overwhelming support from the “common” people for running the ad?

The media company, NCM Media Networks, places advertising in leading theaters in 49 of the top 50 media markets in the U.S.---literally hundreds of millions of patrons see the ads they approve. The company’s content policies control the advertising messages seen by hundreds of millions of people.

NCM’s content guidelines prohibit things like nudity. But they also forbid promoting a religious figure—apparently even historical religious figures like Jesus. (Would they prohibit an ad that showed the Rev. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech?) And, as Pastor Mike Fabarez of the Compass Bible Church points out, approved ads routinely promote films that include profane uses of the name “Jesus.”

Pejorative uses of the name Jesus apparently fall within policy parameters.

As in the days leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion – and blessed resurrection – there will always be those who seek to silence the name of Jesus – except for when it’s used with disrespect or contempt.

How to Save Your Family: Proclaim the Saving Power of Jesus

Discuss this event with your children. Pose the sincere question of, “What’s going on here?” with your family and friends, and start a dialogue. It’s important to ponder why there is always an effort to silence Jesus.

Then ask the question that is posed in the ad, “Did it really happen?” and be prepared to share with your loved ones the greatest news mankind has ever known: That God loves them enough to come to earth, pay for our sins and heal our brokenness – and that Jesus is the only name by which we can be forgiven and saved.

The silencing of Jesus by yet another powerful cultural force is the perfect backdrop in which to explain the true meaning of Easter.

Watch the video here with your family. And show them that Jesus and his saving powerful and endless love can never be silenced.

Finally, contact NCM Media Networks and ask them to allow the true story of Easter to be told. Your comments should be directed to: Lauren Leff / Amy Jane Finnerty NCM Media Networks (303) 957-1709 / (212) 931-8117 /

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