The Big Problem

If you live in Fort Worth, you have undoubtedly heard about the new advertisements on city buses this Christmas season. There has been quite an uproar about the advertisements by an atheist organization declaring that "millions of Americans are good without God."

Some bus drivers are claiming they will refuse to drive buses with the advertisements on them. Reports of the potential for hundreds or thousands of people boycotting city buses seem to be credible. Some Fort Worth pastors are organizing church-wide boycotts of the bus.

Perhaps obviously, I'm in favor of consumers voting with their pocketbooks. There are stores and services I will never patronize again because of the way they treated me or my wife. And you had better believe I privately tell my friends about my experience in hopes that they'll join with me.

However, I'm not sure I can think of a scenario in which I think a church as an institution needs to be in the boycott business.

I'm more saddened by the sentiment of the advertisements than I am angered by them. That an organization called "Coalition of Reason" could have such a flawed and subjective definition of "goodness" can only be an indication of their blindness. Who gets to decide what defines "good" in order to declare that millions of people are "good?" Who or what is the standard?

I wish the advertisements weren't on the city buses, but I'm not going to waste a bunch of time worrying about them for two reasons:

First, I simply can't picture a person walking down Hulen Street, seeing a bus drive by that says "Millions of Americans are good without God" and saying to himself, "Gee... I had no idea." Honestly, I put less confidence in a city bus advertisement's ability to change a person's worldview than I do the "John 3:16" sign at football games; and that puts the advertisements pretty low on my confidence list.

Secondly, I'm far more worried about people inside the church who teach and live as if they believe they are "good without God" than I am atheists who expresses a spiritually blind opinion. I'm far more worried about functional atheists' ability to discredit the church than I am a city bus advertisement put out there by real atheists.

My uncle Phil had a really great post yesterday that says virtually the same thing, better than I could.


Symbian Guru said...

I'm sure I'm completely missing the point, but I can't help but wonder if these pastors/churches are getting so upset because they didn't think of it first?

I used to work in advertising (Cable TV, but it's similar), and for the most part, the highest bidder wins. Banners on 4 city buses can't cost that much, why don't all these churches, instead of organizing boycotts (which are free and don't really require much commitment, honestly) put their money where their mouth (and theoretically, their heart) is and put up their own advertisements?

It's quite easy to sit back and say, 'Well, I'm outraged about that!' but it's significantly more difficult to say 'You know what, I'm outraged by that, and I'm going to get off my high-horse and do something about it.'

Or, to your point, Chris, they could be sending the message that a few city bus signs aren't enough to deter people from the wonderful majesty of God. By boycotting and getting their panties in a bundle, they're effectively sending the message that they believe (at least a little bit) that a few signs on buses are enough to seriously impact the message of the Gospel.

Understanding Alice said...

I think you have a sensible attitude to this issue, but on your point "However, I'm not sure I can think of a scenario in which I think a church as an institution needs to be in the boycott business." what about during the anti aparthied years of south africa or perhaps boycotting non fair trade chocolate to protest agains child slavery? Wouldnt these be valid whole church issues?