Monday, February 08, 2016

Facebook rejects gay Passion of Christ book ad as pornography

Facebook rejected a new ad for our gay Passion of Christ book this week, calling it an “adult product” and referencing their ban on pornography.

“Ads may not promote pornography of any kind, whether artistic or commercial,” states the Facebook guideline referenced in the rejection notice.

Our book is not porn! It is a religious art book that presents the story of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection from an LGBT viewpoint.

Facebook won’t let us pay to advertise “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision” by myself (Kittredge Cherry) and artist Doug Blanchard. So please send your friend to the book’s website ( and invite them to like its Facebook page.

Paintings in the book depict Jesus as a gay man of today in a modern city. Nudity is similar to standard Christian crucifixion scenes. The only image in the book that might be considered sexually suggestive (but not porn) is when Jesus kisses God during his Ascension to heaven.

The rejected ad shows a shirtless Jesus on the cross with this text: “LGBT Passion of Christ: Meet a modern Jesus in ‘The Passion of Christ.’ Recommended book for Lent and Holy Week.” It links to the book’s website:

Some ad formats also include this extra text: “Powerful paintings show a gay vision of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Diverse friends go with him from suffering to freedom. Includes 24 paintings and meditations. ‘Accessible but profound.’”

The ad itself doesn’t seem remotely pornographic or sexually suggestive -- unless the censors at Facebook misunderstood the word “Passion.” Do they think it only means sexual desire? “Passion” also means the suffering and death of Jesus.

Do they believe that everything “LGBT” is automatically sexual and pornographic?!

Maybe gay visions of Jesus just scare them.

Strangely Facebook stated that saying “Practice safe sex with our brand of condoms” is OK, while “LGBT Passion of Christ” is obscene.

The LGBT Passion of Christ is apparently more dangerous than safe sex to the censors at Facebook!

Since the ad’s image and text are pretty tame, it seems that Facebook is not just rejecting this particular ad, but ANY ad for the book because they imagine it must be an “adult product.”

This rejection is an important reminder that the gay Passion book is still needed. I forget how radical is to show a queer Christ. I honestly thought this Facebook controversy was behind us.

When the book was first published in 2014, Facebook rejected a different ad for the same book by using a different excuse. They said it was too “shocking” because it showed a wounded Jesus carrying his cross. They claimed it violated their guideline against images that “may shock or evoke a negative response from viewers.” Specifically they stated that it violated their prohibition on images of “dead or dismembered bodies, ghosts, zombies, ghouls and vampires.”

Doug appealed their decision while I contacted the Lambda Legal Defense Fund and the LGBT news media. Facebook backed down and approved the ad after Gay Star News contacted the social networking site for comment. For the whole story, see the previous post “Victory! Facebook approves gay Passion of Christ ad.”

Here is the entire text of this year’s rejection message:

Your ad content violates Facebook Ad Guidelines. Ads are not allowed to promote the sale or use of adult products or services, including toys, videos, publications, live shows or sexual enhancement products. Ads for family planning and contraception are allowed if they follow our targeting requirements.
Before resubmitting your ad, please visit the Help Center [link] to learn more and see examples of ads that meet our guidelines.
If you’ve read the guidelines in the Help Center and think your ad follows the rules and should have been approved, please let us know.

Clicking the “Help Center” link leads to this text:

Adult Products
Ads may not promote pornography of any kind, whether artistic or commercial. Ads may not feature nudity, adult toys, adult products, or images of people participating in activities that are excessively suggestive or sexual in nature.Ads promoting sexual health products or services, such as contraceptives, lubricants, gels, or sexual health resources may be allowed and must be targeted to people over the age of consent for sexual activity in the target jurisdiction or, if applicable, of age to avail of sexual health services and products in that jurisdiction.
Acceptable: "Free condoms at your local student health center." "Practice safe sex with our brand of condoms."
Unacceptable: "Condoms to enhance your pleasure."
To read more, visit the Facebook Advertising Policies.

I planned to get the Passion book ad running before Ash Wednesday (Feb. 10), which begins the Lenten season of prayer and reflection on the Passion of Christ.

Instead I am writing to Facebook appealing their decision. It’s time to contact Lambda Legal and the LGBT news media again too.

You can show support by telling your friends about the website that Facebook won't let us pay to advertise.

Update on Feb. 10, 2016

Great news: Facebook approved the ad after I submitted an appeal!

Here is the text of my successful appeal letter:

Please approve my ad for “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision.” The ad does not promote an “adult product” or pornography. It advertises a religious art book that tells the story of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection from an LGBT Christian viewpoint.

The word “Passion” does not always mean sexual desire. “Passion” also means the suffering and death of Jesus. You can look it up in any dictionary.

As you can see, the ad does not feature nudity or a sexually suggestive situation. It shows a modern Jesus on the cross wearing pants but no shirt.

I don’t understand why you rejected this ad. Do you think everything LGBT is pornography?! It is not.

The artist, the publisher and I are prepared to contact Lambda Legal Defense Fund over this unfair and discriminatory rejection. Thanks for reconsidering my ad.

Related links:

Here we go again (Counterlight's Peculiars)

News release Feb. 9, 2016: Facebook rejects gay Passion of Christ book ad as pornography

No comments: