Each year, Compass Bible Church in Aliso Viejo runs commercials advertising its Easter service, and even designed one to run in movie theaters at a cost of several thousand dollars. Senior pastor Mike Fabarez says in order to do this, a contract had to be signed.
“Edwards Cinema, which is, I guess their agent is the Media Networks who runs all of their advertising, and they said it's too controversial,” Fabarez says. “[They said] it uses the name of Jesus and so we're not going to accept that ad.”
NCM Media Networks, which handles pre-show advertising for many theaters in Orange County, says it gave Fabarez content guidelines, which prohibit nudity, drug use, and promotion of religious figures. The pastor acknowledges having received those guidelines, but says the written contract included no prohibition of religious figures. He feels the decision is nothing short of hypocrisy.
“You can show movies and contract with movie companies and producers and show all kinds of things that use the name of Jesus in all kinds of pejorative ways and as expletives and everything else. You can enter into contracts about all kinds of controversial topics on the big screen -- but when it comes to an ad that just asks the question, 'Did Jesus rise from the dead? Come to our church and check it out,' they said no,” Fabarez explains.
Further conversations were to no avail, says Pastor Fabarez, who adds that the decision violates free speech rights.
So far, there has been no decision on the next step for the church, but Fabarez says he hopes the end result will be a decision by the firm that future church ads will be protected.