WASHINGTON, (February 24, 1997) -- The heads of the Southern Baptist Convention and the National Association of Evangelicals joined the Cardinal who chairs the Catholic Bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities in asking the assistance of the Chairman of the Sony Corporation in Japan in the matter of Sony Music Entertainment's release in this country of a "Christmas album" to raise money to promote legal abortion.
The album features a group called Rock for Choice, which advocates repeal of laws requiring parental consent to a minor's abortion, repeal of restrictions on federal funding of abortions, and "massive pro-choice community organizing." Sony Music Entertainment released the album, entitled "O Come All Ye Faithful," during the 1996 Christmas season. Promotional materials for the album, which parodies Christian songs, refer to legal abortion as among "the most spiritual of gifts."
The church leaders said the album "deeply offended the religious sensibilities of Christians across the United States."
The letter was signed by Cardinal Bernard Law, Archbishop of Boston and Chairman of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities, Dr. Richard D. Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Dr. Don Argue of the National Association of Evangelicals, who together represent ninety-five million Christians in the United States. It was sent to Mr. Norio Ohga, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the Sony Corporation, Tokyo, which is the parent company of Sony Music Entertainment, New York.
The letter noted that a number of Catholic organizations had expressed their concerns to Sony Music Entertainment in early January but had received a dismissive letter in reply. "We strongly hope that you are more sensitive to the offensive nature of Sony's actions and will assist us," the church leaders told Mr. Ohga.
They said that a January 23 letter from Sony Music Entertainment's Senior Vice President for Communications, Patricia Kiel, had only added to the offense and "was insensitive to the genuine concerns of millions of Americans."
In her letter, Ms. Kiel defended Sony's release of the album and argued that advocacy for the availability of abortion, or "reproductive rights," is not abortion advocacy.
"Ms. Kiel may demur that Sony does not support abortion over other choices a woman may make regarding her pregnancy," the church leaders said. "But she simply cannot deny that the proceeds from this 'Christmas album' support the wider availability only of abortion. She also cannot deny that Sony has put itself squarely in the center of this controversy," they said.
"We have no reason to deny Ms. Kiel's statement that Sony Music did not 'intend' to mock or attack Christianity or Christmas. But Sony has. And she is simply wrong to state that the project should not be interpreted this way. For millions of Americans, there is no other way to interpret an album exploiting a Christian holy day to support what they abhor!"
"We understand that companies and individuals often have differing views about abortion," the letter continued. "And we do not oppose artists' rights to make music. But a corporate decision to take sides on abortion in a way that deeply offends millions of Americans is a different matter," the three church leaders said.
The letter to Mr. Ohga included extensive documentation and thanked the Sony chairman for "seriously considering our request for assistance."
Other organizations which wrote letters of complaint to Sony Music Entertainment in January included the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.
A copy of Ms. Kiel's January letter to Cardinal Law is available upon request.