A TV ad for Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s reelection campaign filmed inside a local Catholic church has been pulled from the airwaves since coming to the attention of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which had not been notified of the filming on its property.
The ad, which asked viewers to vote for Villanueva on June 7 for the sheriff’s race, showed him praying inside a church for a series of intentions, including help dealing with violent crime and the homeless crisis. The church was later identified as St. Alphonsus Church in East LA.
The ad first appeared on Los Angeles-area TV stations earlier this week. By late Thursday, May 19, the ad had been pulled from local TV stations and taken down from YouTube.
The sheriff’s campaign said it had received permission from St. Alphonsus, which is where Villanueva and his family attend church. But the Archdiocese said that the ad violated its prohibitions against the use of Church properties for political purposes.
In a statement, the archdiocese clarified that it was not informed “prior to the filming either by the priest contacted at the parish” or by Villanueva’s campaign.
“The Archdiocese first became aware of the ad through concerned inquiries and media reports portraying the ad as a possible endorsement,” read the May 19 statement. “The Archdiocese, which includes our parishes, schools and ministries, does not endorse political candidates.”
Archdiocesan policy states that Archdiocesan property cannot be used for candidates’ political campaigns. Further, parishes are required to submit any requests for outside filming on church property to the archdiocese.
The archdiocese “regrets any misunderstanding and appreciates that the ad has been removed and the matter has been resolved,” it said.