Focus on the Family's Tim Tebow Super Bowl ad "absolutely not anti-anything," says Focus spokesman

If anything, the debate over a still-unseen Focus on the Family Super Bowl ad has only intensified as the week has gone on, with protesters appearing on shows such as The O'Reilly Factor and pro-life supporters attaching themselves to what they assume will be its sentiments.

Focus on the Family spokesman Gary Schnneeberger has been watching this process with both fascination and satisfaction. He insists that critics who believe the spot, featuring Florida QB Tim Tebow and his mom, will have an anti-choice subtext are wrong: "It's absolutely not anti anything," he stresses. And once members of the public get a chance to see the commercial, he believes they'll be baffled that any controversy erupted over it in the first place.

"It's very pro-family," Schnneeberger says. "It's all about celebrating families and celebrating life. It's not political or shocking or divisive."

The organizations that have come out in opposition to the ad, most of them promoting reproductive rights and the like, have argued that any anti-abortion theme in the ad is inherently anti-choice if only because of Focus on the Family's longtime stance on the subject. Schneeberger addresses that argument like so:

"These are obviously groups that disagree with us very passionately on many issues, the pro-life issue being one of them. And Focus on the Family is unabashedly, unapologetically, unchangeably pro-life. We don't stray from that at all. But that being said, to level some of the allegations against this ad that have been leveled when you haven't even seen it strikes us as a little peculiar."

Considering "the noise of these groups that have protested us," Schneeberger continues, "the American people, when they see it, they're going to say, 'What? That's not what these people have said it would be like.' They'll not only say that, but I think they'll be pleased and inspired by it."

The publicity barrage that's accompanied the controversy has given Focus the biggest attention boost it's received in ages. So does Schneeberger feel like thanking those who've raised objections?

"We're certainly not upset that there's a discussion about this going on in the country right now," he acknowledges. "What's interesting about this is that I've seen it in the sports pages, I've seen it in the news pages, I've seen it in the entertainment pages, I've seen it in the business pages. About the only place I haven't seen it is in the food pages.

"There's been discussions about free speech: Does Tim Tebow have the right to stand up to say what he'd like to say? And does Focus on the Family have the right to purchase an ad, which CBS has approved? And those kinds of conversations, not just on the pro-life issue but on lots of important subjects for the American people, I think they're great. That to us is more important than how many times Focus on the Family's name appears in the news."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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