NEW YORK -- Religious leaders yesterday condemned a new movie rating system as pandering to "sexually exploitative material."
The church officials urged the Motion Picture Association of America to reconsider its action replacing the "X" rating with the new "No Children" or "NC-17" rating.
"It is an arrogant and ill advised decision which deeply affects the public good. It was made in isolation, without public consultation. The change is neither in the public interest nor in the best interest of the community," the church leaders said in a joint statment.
The statement was issued by communication leaders of the U.S. Catholic Conference and the National Council of Churches, which includes most major Protestant and Eastern Orthodox denominations.
They spoke out after the motion picture association Wednesday said it has decided to substitute the new "NC-17" category for the "X" rating used on adult films since 1968.
The church officials charged that the association "has caved in to the commercial interests of those who are attempting to get sexually exploitative material into general theatrical release."
They urged members of the National Association of Theater Owners to refuse to book NC-17 movies, and newspapers and others to refuse to accept advertising for them.
"Changing the name of the 'X' category does not change the nature of the material," the statement said.
Local congregations were also urged to monitor enforcement of age restrictions under the NC-17 category and other categories.
The statement was issued by Bishop Edward J. O'Donnell, chairman of the communication committee of the U.S. Catholic Conference,