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Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

It pays to complain: Stanford ads modified

Stanford ad

A California husband and wife who are FFRF household members got a positive response to their Aug. 2 letter of complaint about a full-page newspaper ad in the July 31 East Bay Times for a health care provider with ties to Stanford University.

“Given that Stanford University is ostensibly nondenominational and nonsectarian, we were surprised by the prominence of a Christian cross on the person chosen to represent the university’s medical services, with the cross unusually high up on her neck,” the letter from Jane Russell and Jon Alexandr said.

“We think it is everybody’s right to declare their personal religious affiliation, but it seems inappropriate to highlight only one religion in a Stanford University ad that is presumably aimed at a diverse community of people who have affiliations with various religions, or affiliations with no religions.

“This is especially true now with the divisive decisions of the Christian-dominated U.S. Supreme Court taking away the constitutional rights of women to have autonomy over their own bodies, while also weakening the constitutional foundations for the separation of church and state,” the letter continued.

“Why was a decision made — de facto — to promote Christianity by Stanford University in a way that can alienate a significant portion of the ad’s readers?”

The letter was promptly and cordially responded to by the associate director of community partnerships for Stanford’s School of Medicine before being forwarded to Jennifer Torai, director of local government affairs for Stanford Health Care.

“I shared your concern and the marketing team appreciated you bringing it forward,” Torai wrote. “The intent was to fully represent the individual in the ad but understand how it could be misinterpreted. As such, the ads are being modified for future publishing. Thank you for taking the time to provide this important feedback.

“Please let me know if you have questions or would like to chat about this. Again, I really do appreciate you raising awareness of this!”

In smaller online versions of the ad since the letter was received, the cross no longer appears.

Russell and Alexandr have for 11 years hosted a private San Francisco Bay Area group via Meetup.com — Contra Costa Atheists and Freethinkers. They plan to retire soon from organizing the group.