Is ABC providing airtime to Focus on the Family ad after denying it to United Church of Christ?

››› ››› MAX BLUMENTHAL

During the May 2 season finale of the ABC reality series Supernanny, James C. Dobson's Christian ministry Focus on the Family plans to air a nationwide commercial promoting the organization's toll-free phone number and its Focus On Your Child parenting website. In December 2004, ABC reportedly refused to air a commercial on its broadcast network from the United Church of Christ promoting its inclusive policy towards gays, racial minorities, and people with disabilities. While the ABC Family cable channel ran the commercial, according to a United Methodist Church press release, ABC's broadcast network (which airs Supernanny) joined broadcasters such as CBS, NBC, and UPN in rejecting the ad as "too controversial."

Focus on the Family was a co-sponsor of "Justice Sunday," the April 24 event designed to rally support for President Bush's contentious judicial nominees to which Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) gave a videotaped address and Dobson declared that "the biggest holocaust in world history came out of the Supreme Court" in its Roe v. Wade decision. During the 2004 presidential campaign, Dobson endorsed Bush while Focus on the Family organized a massive voter drive urging Americans to vote for candidates who oppose abortion rights and who support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. At a political rally on October 22, 2004, Dobson stated his belief that homosexuals "want to destroy the institution of marriage. It will destroy marriage. It will destroy the Earth."

Focus on the Family's ad features young children issuing such warnings as "I'm going to make a scene in the supermarket today" and "At bedtime tonight, it could get ugly." Viewers are then instructed to visit the Focus on Your Child website, where they can receive "parenting advice from a faith-based perspective that could make all the difference." The website sells audiotapes like "To Spank or Not To Spank," which explains "the rationale behind the use of corporal punishment and how to administer it with love," as well as a revised and updated version of Dobson's parenting book Dare to Discipline (Tyndale House, 1996). The original version of Dare to Discipline informs parents:

Minor pain can ... provide excellent motivation for the child ... There is a muscle, lying snugly against the base of the neck ... When firmly squeezed, it sends little messengers to the brain saying, 'This hurts; avoid recurrence at all costs.' "

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