A Christian bookstore in Knoxville, Tennessee, reported that a local newspaper refused to print their ad because it contained the word “Christian.” The owners of Cedar Springs Christian Store went public this week with their story involving a Christian ad they were attempting to place in the Knoxville News Sentinel. They say that they placed an ad that was to run in the newspaper’s classified section, but on the day they expected to see it published, their ad was nowhere to be seen.
According to the owners of Cedar Springs Christian Store, they are selling one of their stores and needed to place an ad to facilitate the liquidation of the fixtures. When the ad didn’t show up in the newspaper as scheduled, co-owner Vicki Giest decided to look into the matter.
Giest said that her mom called the publication to check on the situation. When she spoke to a female working for the classified department of the paper, the newspaper employee couldn’t find their ad anywhere. When she searched the database again, using the phrase “Cedar Springs Christian Stores,” she did locate the listing. It was then the employee told Giest’s mom what had happened with the Christian ad, reports WATE.
“The ad didn’t go through because of an offensive word. And Mom said, ‘What would the offensive word be?’ And she said, ‘The word Christian.'”
Following the incident with the non-publication of the Christian ad, the bookstore owners turned to the local media to share their story. Not surprisingly, sentiment quickly turned to outrage when it was reported that “Christian” was deemed an offensive word.
Not everyone was sympathetic to the plight of the Christian bookstore, however.
Despite Vicki Giest’s claim that the newspaper deliberately refused to publish the ad due to the use of the “offensive” word, the Knoxville News Sentinel has a slightly different version of events. According to a post on the newspaper’s Facebook page, the Christian ad was not rejected by the newspaper. Rather, according to the Sentinel, the ad was “hung up in [their] front end system.”
The newspaper called the incident with the Christian ad nothing more than a “misunderstanding,” adding that the error didn’t reflect the newspaper’s “stance on Christianity.”
“We apologize for any misunderstanding about the News Sentinel stance on Christianity. We had a system failure, which resulted in a classified ad for Cedar Springs Christian Stores getting hung up in our front end system. We corrected the technology issue in our system and the ad is now running for an extended period at no extra charge. We have had a business relationship with Cedar Springs Christian Stores and we have run many ads as part of that relationship. We apologize for the error and any inconvenience this has caused.”
So, in addition to correcting the error with the Christian ad and getting it published as soon as possible, the Knoxville News Sentinel also apparently gave the Christian bookstore some free running time in an attempt to compensate for the inadvertent delay in the ad’s publication.
According to Patrick Birmingham, publisher of the Tennessee newspaper, the problem with the publication of the Christian ad was solely a technical issue rooted in the paper’s automated publication system. It had nothing to do with religion but was nothing more than one of the many technical difficulties we often find ourselves dealing with in our increasingly automated lives.
“The News Sentinel does not have a bias against Christianity or any other religion.”
Cedar Springs Christian Store also took to social media to weigh in on the situation. Per a post on the store’s Facebook page, owners were ultimately satisfied with the way the local newspaper handled the situation, despite the delay in getting their ad published. The store’s Facebook page also noted that they appreciated the “awareness brought to the issue,” and hope that similar issues can be prevented in the future.
While the bookstore seems to have forgiven the newspaper for the way their ad was handled, a lot of critics have not. Following the debacle with the Christian ad, including reports that the word “Christian” was deemed offensive, many people took to the News Sentinel’s Facebook page to complain and leave negative reviews.
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