In the cacophonous religious discourse in Orange County, things can get murky, gray and downright confusing. Especially when a church decides to do something provocative. To wit: Last week, 27-year-old pastor Kyle Steven Bonenberger of Anaheim-based City Church accused CBS Outdoor advertising of hypocrisy on his blog when the entertainment juggernaut declined to run the church's ad campaign.
The ad was set to run April 25 and feature a the phrase "God Screwed Me Over," the title of a series of sermons currently being delivered at the Christian church, which meets Sunday mornings at Anaheim all-ages music venue Chain Reaction. Bonenberger says the phrase is meant to challenge the view that God doesn't care about human suffering.
"We're validating a feeling that some people have that, at some point in their lives, God didn't have their best interests at heart," Bonenberger says. "We don't believe God screws people over, but if somebody feels that way, it doesn't matter. You need to help them figure out what's going on in their lives."
Apparently CBS wasn't too keen on obliging the church on this one. "We had the signed contract and we were moving forward--and once they received the graphics, they said, 'No, we can't move forward, it's too controversial.'"
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The hypocrisy, as Bonenberger sees it: CBS Outdoor runs ads around Orange County promoting such events as Adult Con featuring images (albeit tame ones) of porn stars. "How is it okay for them to say, 'Yeah, porn is good,' but something that pushes the envelope about faith is not?" Bonenberger asks.
The ultimate face-slap came when the CBS ran an ad funded by atheist/secular organization Orange County Coalition for Reason, which featured the question and answer "Don't believe in God? You are not alone." The ad ran on a Westminster billboard and was featured on Navel Gazing.
Bonenberger says that he believes that atheists have the right to express their views. "That's why we're America. What I do have a problem with is CBS saying, 'Yeah, the atheists can run it, but City Church can't.' It's not that they're not taking controversial billboards. They are."
When reached by the Weekly, CBS representatives declined to comment on the matter.