LOS ANGELES — The Rev. Robert H. Schuller, whose weekly "Hour of Power" televangelist show airs nationwide, is objecting to television commercials that use Playboy founder Hugh Hefner to hawk a new line of hamburgers.
The ads are for a line of five sandwiches called "The Six Dollar Burger," sold by 948 Carl's Jr. restaurants in 14 Western states.
The ads feature Hefner, 77, in his signature silk pajamas holding a bulging sandwich.
"People always ask me, 'Hey Hef, do you have favorites?"' he says in one version. "I love them all. It just depends on what I'm in the mood for."'
In one ad, his comments are interspersed with appearances by three women, one of whom says, "I feel for Hef. It's so hard to choose."
The tag line of the campaign is "Because some guys don't like the same thing night after night."
In his weekly sermon taped last Sunday for broadcast this coming Sunday, the 77-year-old Schuller denounces the ads as harmful to children and demeaning to women.
"I have never been so appalled, hurt, wounded, embarrassed and I cannot let it pass," Schuller said from the pulpit.
The ads have sparked hundreds of complaints since they began airing in early November, according to Carl's Jr. spokeswoman Caroline Leakan.
Last month, objections from the leaders of Thomas Aquinas College, a Catholic liberal arts school college in Santa Paula, resulted in the resignation of Andrew Puzder, president and chief executive of CKE Restaurants Inc., from the school's board of governors.
Schuller said that the company's founder, Carl Karcher, is "just heartbroken that a company he founded on Christian principles has taken such an amoral act that can be so dangerous on the impressions left with the children who watch."
Leakan said she has not heard from Karcher about the campaign.
"We're sorry people took offense, but we're standing by our advertising," Leakan said Dec. 11. "There's nothing sexual about them."
Leakan said the Hefner campaign is set to go off the air at the end of the month.
The chain's edgy ads have sparked complaints for years, including one where a young woman rides a mechanical bull while eating a burger and another where a team of people manipulate a chicken in search of its nuggets.
The ad, with the tag line, "Chickens don't have nuggets," was for the restaurant's chicken strips.
CKE Restaurants also operates Hardee's and La Salsa restaurants around the world.