ASA rules on bloody Bible ad

gpa ad
The ASA has finally published its adjudication on the Gay Police Association’s, almost three months since the complaints started flooding in. “It’s our most complained about advert of the year so far,” said an ASA spokesman. Thanks to a concerted campaign by Christian groups, that is.

553 complaints came from individuals and groups such as Christian Watch (concerned with “the rapid inroads being made by satanic forces to undermine our biblically based constitution”), The Trinitarian Bible Society (“To uphold the Bible as the inspired, inerrant Word of God”), The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (more inerrantists), Christian Doctrine from Bible Theology Ministries (“Many employers are now nothing but gay puppets!”), and The Evangelical Alliance.

All of the above groups, who are complaining about how the GPA ad discriminates against Christians, are actively campaigning for exemptions to be included in the Sexual Orientation Regulations which will allow them to continue to discriminate against homosexuals.

There were five points of complaint, three of which were upheld:

1. The ad implied that Christians (rather than any other religious group) were responsible for the reported incidents, and therefore caused offence to Christian readers.
An utterly baffling judgement. Christians should be offended by the fact that some Christians are guilty of homophobic incidents. Does the ASA think they should be protected from the facts?

2. The ad implied that the Bible condoned homophobic incidents.
Not upheld
An equally baffling judgement. Here’s a quick reminder of what the Bible has to say about homosexuality:

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them. [Lev 20.13]

The Bible does condone homophobic incidents. The complaint that the ad “implies” this does not make any sense, and should have been dismissed as invalid from the outset.

3. The ad incited violence towards “people of faith”, especially Christians.
Not upheld
The Evangelical Alliance was the group responsible for this one, and they were rightly rejected. They are gratifyingly unhappy about it.

4. The image implied that all the incidents reported were of a violent nature, involving physical injury.
This apparently breaches clause 7.1 (Truthfulness) of the CAP code. Huh? A pool of blood suggests that all the incidents were violent? No, it doesn’t. It merely suggests that violent incidents have occurred – and surely it is the violent ones which deserve the most attention? An illogical adjudication on an oddly legalistic complaint.

5. The claim that “In the last 12 months, the Gay Police Association has recorded a 74% increase in homophobic incidents, where the sole or primary motivating factor was the religious belief of the perpetrator” was not substantiated.
The only unequivocally correct judgement of the five. The GPA claimed that they “held documentary evidence”, but failed to show it to the ASA. That, frankly, is pretty stupid. If you are going to quote statistics you have to back them up.
UPDATE: (2 hours later) As explained in the article above, the GPA were unable to provide the data because the case was still under investigation. Sorry for calling you stupid, GPA.

All in all, are rather feeble display of fence-sitting by the ASA. They appear to be trying to keep everyone happy, rather than deliver a clearly-thought-out, impartial adjudication. They usually do better.

10 Responses to “ASA rules on bloody Bible ad”

  1. Marc Draco says:

    Good grief. Even the ASA are infected (with the “protect the religious”) meme. Pah!

  2. martyn says:

    Isn’t the asa run by their own industry? I’m sure I viewed a documentary once showing it to be a sham organisation.

  3. Adam says:

    I have to say I’m not surprised. I already had zero respect for the ASA. They are simply a puppet of the advertising industry, put there as a fig leaf to try to convince the government (in which, sadly they seem to have succeed so far) that the advertising industry is capable of self-regulation. They enjoy upholding complaints in high-profile cases like this, as it makes them look tough, never mind whether there was any merit in the case. This means that they can get on with ignoring complaints about all the less high profile adverts that tell blatant porkies.

  4. Sam says:

    The way it’s being reported it sounds as if the complaints were upheld because they suggested Christians carried out most homophobic attacks. In which case, the GPA are being ticked off for telling the truth.
    You never know, someday you might get arrested for saying most suicide bombers are muslims.

  5. Andy Gilmour says:

    Makes me want to start reporting all those supernaturalist ads… “Come and meet Jesus at St. Gullible’s every Sunday”, claims to clairvoyancy, etc,etc. You know the sort of thing..

    ho hum

  6. From Adam: “They are simply a puppet of the advertising industry…”

    Yes, but are they a gay puppet? Inquiring minds want to know!

  7. tom p says:

    To be fair, I think that the judgement on point 2 is perfectly rational.
    That it was not upheld means that either:
    (a) that the ASA didn’t think that the ad implied that the bible condoned homophobic incidents or
    (b) that the ASA thought that it was a fair implication.
    Given the passage you’ve quoted and the clear implication in the advert, I reckon that it’s (b), which is an intelligent and sound judgement.
    the Bible clearly condones homophobic violence, so there’s no grounds for the christians to complain.

  8. Monitor says:

    Hi Tom

    It was a). The actual adjudication said:

    we considered that, overall, the ad did not imply Christian teaching was responsible for, or condoned, homophobic incidents.

  9. martyn says:

    The asa will drag out an hearing about an ad campaign until very near the end of it’s run before making a ruling against. That way it looks as though the asa has upheld a complaint, yet the advert will already have run its display run, but it will look like it’s been removed.

  10. tom p says:

    Ah well, wrong reason, right decision.

    I once complained to the ASA about a McDonalds ad that claimed there was some astronomically large number of possible combinations of their 99p menu, which only worked if you accepted that buying a burger and a shake was different to buying a shake and a burger, yet they ruled in favour of McDonalds, even though I specifically showed them why McDonalds was wrong and what arguments McDonalds would use (and they did use them) and why these arguments were specious, so I’ve little confidence in hte ASA’s ability to do anything sensible involving logic or reason