January 20th, 2011
08:10 PM ET
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
An online store called Jesus Hates Obama says a television ad it submitted to air during next month's Super Bowl has been rejected by the Fox television network.
“Do I really believe (that) Jesus really hates Obama? No, but I do believe in freedom… as in the freedom to poke fun at the Obama administration when I don’t agree with their policies,” said Richard Belfry, who began selling Jesus Hates Obama merchandise in 2009, in a Thursday press release about the ad’s rejection.
A spokesman for Fox, which will broadcast the Super Bowl on February 6, would not say whether the network rejected the ad.
“If an advertiser wishes to submit an ad for consideration, we will review it and determine if it’s appropriate for air,” said Lou D’Ermilio, a spokesman for Fox Sports Media Group. “However, we do not provide information about the materials that may or may not have been submitted, nor do we discuss our broadcast standard polices.”
The Jesus Hates Obama website said in its release that it had received an e-mail message from Fox’s vice president for broadcast standards and practices that said its commercial was “deemed not acceptable to air on FOX during the 2011 Super Bowl.”
Belfry, who describes himself as a conservative comedian, said in the press release that he won financial backing from private investors to produce and air a commercial during the Super Bowl, when 30-second spots cost upward of $3 million.
Belfry says he has sold over 70,000 Jesus Hates Obama T-shirts out of the back of his van and through word of mouth. In November, he launched JesusHatesObama.com. The website lists a Las Vegas, Nevada, address on its “Contact Us” page.
He said he submitted the no-frills ad, which features bobble-head dolls of Jesus Christ and President Barack Obama, in November and January and was rejected both times.
Ad space for the Super Bowl sold out in November.
The ad encouraged viewers to go to the JesusHatesObama.com site to buy merchandise, mostly T-shirts with messages including, “Jesus Loves You but hates Obama.”
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.