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Monday, September 09, 2013

Pet Peeve: Spamming for Jesus

I find no record of God ever having hired a PR team.
One of my pet peeves is using Jesus to promote spam. It happens a lot and many people who are insecure in their relationship with Jesus seem to take the command to share a Facebook post, e-mail or Tweet if you aren't afraid of Jesus as a heavenly command.

Fair Warning: I ALWAYS delete anything I receive that ends with some version of "Share this if you are not ashamed of Jesus".  As anyone who reads my stuff is well aware, I am NOT ashamed of Christ. I am openly Christian and take a good deal of abuse for it in the forums.  I do not have any need to prove I am not ashamed by passing along somebody's attempt to arm-twist for Jesus. If I find the post to have exceptional value, I delete the "not ashamed" bit and pass the post along on its own merits. Otherwise it goes straight into the dumper.

I find that a good deal of the share-if-you're-not-ashamed posts I receive contain a disturbing level of lies and misattributions.  People write up something that makes God look like He's not fooling around and really means it and/or attributes the quote to someone who never said it, then tack on the "not ashamed" bit and send it to people who trust them.

Or, they get some of this stuff in their email box or see it posted on Twitter and feel like poor old Jesus must need a PR boost.  It was this very kind of nonsense, human beings thinking God isn't doing well public relations-wise that gave us things like these:

  • The Crusades:  An early version of the if-you're-not-ashamed-of-Jesus tactic.  The pitch went something like, if you're not ashamed of Jesus, you'll pick up you sword and go take Jerusalem back from the Muslims since apparently God couldn't hold onto it on His own.
  • Sunday Services:  An early church PR committee changed the ten commandment Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, something for which there is no scriptural authorization.  It was a PR gimmick by the Roman church to attract more pagans to services. The priests figured that since the pagans were already going to temple on the "venerable day of the sun", they would be less inconvenienced in converting if the Christians worshipped on the same day everybody was used to.  Moving the day of worship also distanced the early church from the Jews - a double bonus considering the bad press the Jews were getting at the time.
  • Hell:  The priests were having trouble with all the emphasis on love and mercy in Christian theology. As the church became more a government than a faith, the theologians were tasked with finding a tool in scripture they could use to keep the troops in line.  By twiddling with the nuances of Greek and Hebrew and ignoring virtually every scripture that clearly described the how the gift of eternal life is given, the priests borrowed the Greek idea of Hades, something the pagans they were trying to convert were familiar with and gave it a more diabolical twist.  The doctrine of an ever-burning hell and eternal torment has been used for more than a thousand years with suitable embellishment as an effective tool to scare people into showing up on Sunday and making regular contributions to the church. Don't believe me, shop around some of the churches out there and you'll hear sermons as scary as a Freddy Krueger movie. In high school, I read Cotton Mather's famous sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God". That sermon made Puritans weep and faint from terror all over New England in colonial America and had the added benefit of increasing attendance and the weight of the contents of the offering plate. It also increased Mather's power over the colonists and there, my friend, is the link to the dark side.
  • The Military/Governmental/Religion Complex:  It started with Constantine marching his army through a handy river and proclaiming the all "baptized".  At one time the church political held frightening power over the Western World, with the power to elevate and destroy kings and princes.  A Muslim Fatwah was amateur stuff next to a Papal Bull. During all of this, the faithful were treated to the spectacle of church bishops, cardinals and even popes with stables of mistresses, incredible wealth and political power.  Cardinal Richelieu was responsible for a great deal of the corruption in the French government that brought on the horrors of the French Revolution. When ever you get some megalomaniac or gang of politicians trying to "take over the world", the first thing they do is make sure everybody knows that God is on their side whatever hellish business the politicians are fixing to get up to.
In all of this mess, however, the church invisible - made up of the humble faithful sons and daughters of God throughout the ages - has continued to thrive and grow, not by beating it's collective chest and proclaiming, "I'm not ashamed of Jesus," but by study, prayer and sharing their faith. The true church, the golden thread through the tangle of denominations, factions and sects, moves forward ever growing, not through political manipulation nor by misguided attempts to make God "look better", but by living by the Golden Rule and loving God with all their hearts - walking with Him in their daily lives.

Why should I need to say "I'm not ashamed of Christ," much less send often-poorly written and even misleading spam to ten friends within the next 24 hours so that God will send me money if I do and so He doesn't strike me with cancer if I don't?

People who tell me they are "not ashamed of Christ" sound disingenuous. As Shakespeare once eloquently put it, "Methinks thou dost protest too much."

I'll let God handle his own public relations thank you very much and I won't participate in your efforts to fix up his "rep". I don't feel at all qualified to appoint myself his press secretary, especially if I'm going to have to use guilt, shame, intimidation, lies and bullying to do the job. Jesus described the scene at the judgment where God's PR guys would show up and say, "God I did all this stuff for you, I got you some really good press on Facebook and wrote thousands of tweets to boot.  Let me in." 

And God looks 'em in they eye and goes, "Funny, I don't remember hiring a public relations team."

Just one man's opinion.

Tom King

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