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December 01, 2004



So... churches paying for television advertisements. How does anyone justify that? A little self-promotion at the expense of the poor? Sounds good to me.



Interesting point. Let me mull that one over a bit.


I am not sure this is self-promotion. How is this at the expense of the poor? Only in that this money could be spent on the poor, but that argument could be used to criticize everything from church buildings to organizational meetings. This strikes me as far less self-indulgent than those expenditures. Let's not forget that intolerance impacts people. Some people die as a result. Fighting that seems a worthy venture.


Three cheers for the UCC!
The local newspaper here in Frankfort KY recently ran an article by AP religion writer Richard N. Ostling about some books on homosexuality and religion that were recently published by the Pilgrim Press, which is affiliated with the United Church of Christ. The books, according to Mr. Ostling, interpret some biblical texts to mean that Jesus may have been gay. The last paragraph reads, “Is it mere coincidence that as the United Church’s leadership and staff turned more radically liberal..., membership dropped by a third...?”
I was furious about Ostling's snide comment and drafted a Rant to the Editor which included these lines:
The denomination and its press, literally inheriting the historical Pilgrim tradition of resisting persecution, sponsors dialog about gays and lesbians before God, reminiscent of the positions Jesus took in his time when he befriended people despised in his time: tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, the insane, and Samaritans. Here is the issue for the religion writer: how churches might reconcile gays and lesbians to God, given the biblical texts commonly used to exclude our gay or lesbian relatives, friends, coworkers and neighbors from the church. And as for the loss of members in the UCC, if the worldly fruits of faith were decided by popularity, Jesus would not have died on the cross.
The next morning I tore it up. It's a small town, these are brutal times for progressives, and this isn't my issue. But "the parish" seems to be a friendly cyberspace and with your permission I'll post it here!

Scott Jones

I remember reading some months ago that the UCC had decided to start an advertising campaign, which they had never done before. They realized that most folk don't know about them or even know they exist. And that folk confused them with the Churches of Christ, which is WAY different. They also wanted to get the message of progressive Christianity into mainstream media. I applaud their efforts. At least the only religious commercials won't be from Far Righ churches and the Mormons.

Kevin Powell

I've mixed feelings about the whole church TV advertising thing. On the one hand, more moderate religious voices need to be heard. But the message should not simply be a reaction to the hysterical right. The message should be what we proclaim: the crucified and risen Jesus who came to bring new life to the whole world.

But on the other hand, if it is true that the "medium is the message" I wonder what message the church is sending by entering into an area where public discourse has been less than enlivening.

I wonder if the best advertising we have is the church simply being the church: proclaiming, serving, caring, and welcoming.

Just some thoughts from the middle of "Jesusland" Canada-style (aka southern Alberta).

Grace and peace to you,



CBS's response was just creepy.

Tim Sean

The UCC advertising, in light of the atmosphere created by the recent election and the far right stepping forward to cash in their chips, seems to me a very reasonable (and apparently courageous) move. I am weary a thousand times over from Christianity being portrayed as a mean faith. If the UCC has the money to get in the conversation, I support it. (BTW, you can follow Greg's link to Progressive Christian which links to the UCC site and allows you a medium to write CBS and NBC and call them chicken-shit sell-outs to their faces).

I wish there were a UCC church in Shawnee, OK.


Greg, who made the 'fag' joke? And where?

Also, if you get a minute and want to come be enforcer on my blog for my latest debacle, I think you'd like the debate. ;) (sorry if you hate emoticons.)

Resident Atheist

Obviously I'm not going to be able to say anything persuasive on whether it's ethical for Christians to advertise on network television, but I'm all for it.

The main issue, at least from my perspective, is this: while it's obvious to anyone who's paying attention and knows where to look that "Christian" isn't a synonym for "stupid" and that "conservative" isn't another way of saying "batshit crazy", not everyone knows where to look. Right now the situation is exacerbated by the fact that "moral values" has come to mean "stomping the gays" and the only explicitly Christian programming is on TBN. This has already led a lot of openly non-religious people, both as individuals and collectively, to frame the problems with our society in terms of reason versus religion, which is simply not the battle we have to fight. (There are quite a few historical hangovers from the Enlightenment that also contribute to this attitude, but a lot of the trends in the evangelical world are fanning these flames. It's a vicious cycle.)

I think (or hope) that the more Christians who speak out and say that the likes of Falwell and Robertson don't speak for them, the easier it will become to focus on the real problems facing our world. Obviously the content of your own message has to be your first priority, but speaking out against the ignorance and bigotry that has dressed itself in shoplifted religious language is an indispensable auxiliary message.

So please, get the message out, by any (reasonable and appropriate) means necessary. I can't offer you any more incentive than that it would make my job easier, but for what it's worth...



For the record, I was being somewhat facetious. I just thought... if Joel Osteen's church (or Hank Hankygraff's) had an advertisement pulled by CBS, what would this post be about?

For the record, I don't think it's justifiable for individual churches to spend excessive amounts on advertising. It's a somewhat more complicated case with an entire denomination, but given the amount of cash it takes to run a national ad campaign I'd have a hard time justifying it when there are uses for the cash that are much more... useful.

Also, self-promotion is a highly un-Christian value, I'd think. Christ-promotion would be a more laudable goal. (Making no judgment on whether or not UCC's planned campaign was self-promoting.)

michele day

I'm not so sure that it was self promotion as it was to invite minorities and otherwise shunned individuals. After all, it's nobody's place to judge others. Only God, our father and creator has that right. We can only elect to follow or not Jesus' teachings. My bible clearly states "He who is without sin-let throw the first stone."



see if you can find an older entry to talk about. and thanks for the bible reference; i'd never heard that one.

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