April 17th, 2009 by M. French

Editor’s Note: To listen to Dr. Brown interview Jeff Johnston, the man who’s story is told in the ad, click here.

An ad submitted by Love Won Out to a San Antonio newspaper was rejected for being offensive. According to CitizenLink:

Newspaper Rejects Ad for Love Won Out Conference

Leading up to Saturday’s conference in Texas, Focus on the Family’s Love Won Out team attempted to place an ad in the San Antonio News-Express.

But the ad — which features the testimony of Jeff Johnston, who used to identify as homosexual but no longer does — was rejected and deemed offensive.

Gary Schneeberger, vice president of media relations at Focus on the Family Action, said the newspaper clearly has a double standard.

“There are a number of ads in the Express-News that are very offensive not only to Christians, but to families,” he said. “Ads for strip clubs and lingerie models, to name just two.

“With those kinds of ads, they don’t worry about the offense to the community, but in this case, the story of a man who says, ‘I used to be gay and now I am not,’ is somehow deemed to be offensive.”

There’s still time to register for the conference, which takes place Saturday at Westover Hills Assembly of God in San Antonio.

The conference is led by those who have overcome homosexuality and other experts from across the country. They will share the hopeful message that change is possible for those dissatisfied with living homosexually, and offer encouragement and practical help on how to love gay-identified relatives and friends without compromising biblical truth.

After numerous calls and emails to the newspaper from the public, Focus on the Family released the following responses to the answers the newspaper was putting out:

Paper That Rejected Love Won Out Ad Not Telling Whole Story to Readers

The San Antonio Express-News has been inundated with calls and e-mails from subscribers upset that the newspaper rejected an ad Focus on the Family sought to place announcing its Love Won Out conference this Saturday, April 18. Many who have contacted the newspaper’s publisher, Tom Stephenson, have received in return what can only be described as misleading e-mails.

To get the truth on the record, Focus on the Family Vice President of Media and Public Relations Gary Schneeberger offers the responses below to Mr. Stephenson’s claims:

Tom Stephenson wrote: Thank you for writing and for giving me a chance to set the record straight. I don’t know if you have seen the ad in question or not but I suspect you have not. I say that because none of the people I have asked had seen the ad and have been relying on information working its way thru the airways and cyber space to lay criticism at the feet of the newspaper.

Gary Schneeberger responds: It is true, many of those who contacted the paper late last week had not seen the ad. But they did hear the text of it, thanks to KSLR radio host Adam McManus, who read it in its entirety on the air. The ad is nothing more than a photo of a smiling Jeff Johnston of the Love Won Out team accompanied by his story of how he used to struggle with same-sex attractions and was able to overcome them through prayer, counseling and events like Love Won Out.

Also, it bears mentioning that it is unusual, to say the least, to criticize people for not seeing an ad – when you’re the one who refused to let them see it.

Tom Stephenson wrote: Here’s what I can share with you. We received a request to run an ad promoting a conference on April 18 for Focus on the Family. We rejected the ad as presented and offered to work with the organizers to come up with alternative ad copy. They rejected that offer.

Gary Schneeberger responds: This is not entirely accurate. It is true that the paper rejected the ad, but there was no attempt to “work with” us until after Mr. Stephenson was inundated with phone calls from upset subscribers. In fact, Mr. Stephenson initially refused to discuss the reasons for his refusal of the ad with one of our senior executives.

Tom Stephenson wrote: We reached out to them a second time and again offered to run an ad promoting the conference. In fact, we offered to run two ads for the price of one. We have not heard back from them on this most recent offer.

Gary Schneeberger responds: The “second” attempt was actually the paper’s “first.” Their offer to reconsider the ad was, according to a publisher’s representative I personally spoke to, contingent upon our “reeling in the copy” of the ad and “focusing it more on the event.” I asked if that meant removing Jeff’s personal story and the word “homosexuality” from the ad. I was told “yes.” We declined the offer because to make the changes they demanded would have rendered the ad meaningless. Love Won Out is about precisely what the ad reflects in its original form – the hope that people can overcome their same-sex attractions.

I was further told that the reason the paper wanted the changes made was because “there is a homosexual community (in San Antonio) and they will be offended” by the ad in its original form.

Tom Stephenson wrote: Sorry for all of the misinformation regarding this ad but I must tell you we have repeatedly reached out to the organizers of the conference to come up with an ad that works for both of us. We are very willing to accept advertising promoting their upcoming conference.

Gary Schneeberger responds: It is not untrue to say the paper is “willing to accept” advertising promoting Saturday’s Love Won Out event. What Mr. Stephenson is not saying, however, is that it will only accept such advertising if it does not include Jeff Johnston’s story of overcoming homosexuality – and that’s like saying he’ll only accept advertising for Wheaties if they drop their “Breakfast of Champions” slogan.

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