FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Facebook censors gay Passion of Christ ad
NEW YORK, NY - Oct. 23, 2014 - Facebook canceled ads purchased for the new book "The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision" this week because the images "may shock or evoke a negative response from viewers."
The book features art by Doug Blanchard showing Jesus as a gay man in a modern city, including the crucifixion and resurrection.
"We are fighting what appears to be censorship and discrimination based on sexual orientation at Facebook," said author Kittredge Cherry.
Blanchard suspects that complaints from religious conservatives scared Facebook into canceling the ads. He bought the ads to promote the book's Facebook page, www.facebook.com/GayPassion
"The book is indeed controversial, but its intentions are not blasphemous, there is no sexual content, and the violence is unavoidable in any retelling of Christ's Passion," he said.
The artist, author and publisher contacted Lambda Legal over the matter.
The ads were supposed to run for a week starting on Oct. 17, but Facebook shut down the promotion on Monday, Oct. 20. A message from Facebook explained, "Your ad wasn't approved because the image or video thumbnail may shock or evoke a negative response from viewers."
Blanchard complained to Facebook, and they sent a surprising reply on Wed., Oct 22: "Your ad was rejected because the image violates the Ad Guidelines. Ads may not use images that are shocking. Prohibited images include: -Accidents -Car crashes -Dead or dismembered bodies -Ghosts, zombies, ghouls and vampires."
One purpose of the book is to reawaken people to the reality that violence is unacceptable and shocking. But the artist and author believe that Facebook is being unfair in how it applies its policy.
"Facebook publishes crucifixes all the time, which would always violate the criteria that they lay out in their reply," Blanchard said. "Why was our book singled out? I suspect strongly that it is because of the gay content."
Cherry invited people to show support by "liking" the page that Facebook won't let them advertise: https://www.facebook.com/GayPassion.
In the book's 24 paintings, a contemporary Christ figure is jeered by fundamentalists, tortured by Marine look-alikes, and rises again to enjoy homoerotic moments with God. His diverse friends join him on a journey from suffering to freedom. Each image is accompanied by an essay on its artistic and historical context, Biblical basis and LGBT significance.
Douglas Blanchard is a gay artist who teaches art and art history at the Bronx Community College of the City University of New York. Kittredge Cherry is a lesbian author and art historian who founded JesusInLove.org, an online resource for LGBT spirituality and the arts. She was ordained by Metropolitan Community Churches.
"The Passion of Christ" (ISBN 194067140X) was published this month by the Apocryphile Press, a publisher based in Berkeley.