PDA

View Full Version : Consumerism & Religion


jrrtoken
04-14-2009, 04:44 PM
A few months ago, a church was propped up on the outskirts of the city where I currently reside. Normally these sort of events were overlooked, yet this church was different; It was massive. So, after the grand opening of sorts, the church somehow put me on their mailing list, and I received many of their advertisements. Usually I throw away crap like this, but these ads were worded differently. Every ad sent usually capitalized on some sort of pop culture icon, for example, I received Matrix, Spider Man, and even Star Wars themed ads featuring different sermons based around certain themes.

I was disgusted by this blatant use of commercialization and entertainment as religious conversion tools. Not only does this completely reverse many of Jesus' teachings, but the fact that this church can be subject to legal issues for using copyrighted and trademarked also raises more questions. While the ads never featured the actual names of franchises, it was obvious that they incorporated intellectual property.

I share no love for consumer-oriented organized religion such as this, and is the main reason why I left my church, and faith in general, several years ago. While this practice is nothing new, and dates back at least to Aimee Semple McPherson's entertainment-oriented Pentecostalism, does this trend of ultraconsumerism within religion attract more people to due to its culture savvy style of preaching? Or is it simply a corruption of the original, core message of religion?

Totenkopf
04-14-2009, 05:21 PM
I can't speak to how well it works, but it's obviously an example of trying to reach people through contemporary pop culture. When you consider that a lot of people are turned off to religion b/c it seems so "old fashioned" and doesn't seem to resonate with their lives (as they perceive them, anyway), I guess it's inevitable that some church's might turn to mass marketing strategies as a way to connect. Not having a sample of their advertising, it would be presumptuous to say if any core messages were actually being corrupted (or how).

jrrtoken
04-14-2009, 05:49 PM
I'd definitely agree with reaching to a newer generation, but the point is when religious organizations are financially sponsored by corporations, and even when said organizations agree on incorporating corporate advertising into religious affairs. After all, that is the complete opposite of what the teachings of Jesus (i.e., throwing the capitalists out of the temple) stand for: The corruption and exploitation of something considered moral and sacred.

Arcesious
04-14-2009, 06:05 PM
They're begging for a lawsuit...

This is blatant deception, so this kind of thing could turn really ugly.

Jedi_Man
04-14-2009, 06:07 PM
Whoa whoa whoa! Where in the bible does it say how you are supposed to reach the lost and teach the found? Yeah, they could get sued, and yeah, you may not like it, BUt quite frankly, the ends do justify the means.
Now, as long as they don't say something like " Spiderman for Jesus!" or "Follow the white lamb" ( hmmm, thas actually good...) then it is only going to something many people know. How better to tell people the good news than by giving it to them in something they like and understand?
And the only thing really being exploited is the franchises themselves. Christ isn't a franchise.
And Jesus threw unbelieving heathen hypocrites out of the temple. THe people selling idols, the ones with bad and wounded sheep. He was mainly going at the idols, I mean, Its the flipping temple!!! Since when did it become the place to sell false gods??

jrrtoken
04-14-2009, 06:20 PM
And the only thing really being exploited is the franchises themselves. Christ isn't a franchise.Thousands of cases over several centuries has completely disproved that. I can list several examples, but I'd suggest Googling "indulgences" first.And Jesus threw unbelieving heathen hypocrites out of the temple. THe people selling idols, the ones with bad and wounded sheep. He was mainly going at the idols, I mean, Its the flipping temple!!! Since when did it become the place to sell false gods??Nowhere in any of the gospels does it specify that idols were being sold:
On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, "Is it not written:
" 'My house will be called
a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it 'a den of robbers.' " Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. "It is written," he said to them, " 'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it a 'den of robbers.' "Then he entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. "It is written," he said to them, " 'My house will be a house of prayer'; but you have made it 'a den of robbers.' "It was almost time for the Jewish Passover Feast. So Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courtyard he found people who were selling cattle, sheep and doves. Others were sitting at tables exchanging money.

So Jesus made a whip out of ropes. He chased all the sheep and cattle from the temple area. He scattered the coins of the people exchanging money. And he turned over their tables. He told those who were selling doves, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!"

Jae Onasi
04-14-2009, 11:03 PM
@PastramiX--note that the Bible passages specify that they had turned the Temple into a 'house of robbers'--taking advantage of people and exploiting them, rather than providing the required Passover items at a legitimate price. What they did there was change money at outrageous rates, or declare someone's intended sacrifice (e.g. a lamb) to be 'blemished' and therefore not suitable for sacrifice (even if it wasn't blemished) and then sell the person another lamb at ridiculous mark-ups. Jesus wasn't objecting to the sale of such items (which was allowed), he was objecting to the vendors taking advantage of pilgrims and the pious.

I'm not all too comfortable with the slick advertising and marketing, but I understand why they're doing it--it's successful, or they wouldn't be the mega-church that they are. They're meeting people at their level, not the church's, and reaching out to others in ways that they can understand. Not my cup of tea, but I see the need there. Our church reaches out to teens on Facebook, gives them fun cards to give out to invite friends to Sunday night youth group, we have a cafe with computers in it, some video game consoles, a couple pool tables and arcade games, a huge sound system, an informal rock band made up of some of the 20-somethings (the bass player traveled with Skillet at one time, so he's a pretty serious player--darn good, too), along with an AV system and a stage to go along with a library of Christian books and CDs. The youth group went from about 15 attendees to 80 high schoolers and 40 middle schoolers the first year they switched to a format that attracted teens. It's heavy on the music, games (including prizes like CDs, gift cards to fast food joints, and so on), group activities, food of some sort or another (donated Panera goodies, pizza, etc), to go along with the youth pastor's message that addresses the issues that teens face, including hard ones like suicide, sex, drugs, and such. These kids aren't going to come out for a staid Amish Sunday-night sing. Some of the kids who come out on Sunday night are tough kids to deal with--we have a couple gang members who show up, and they can be incredibly disruptive at times. They show up mainly for the fun, food, and music, pretty much in that order. However, it means they're safe for a few hours, and they're off the streets not bothering others, and they're getting some food that they might not get otherwise, and maybe the relationships they develop with the other kids and adults of faith will help turn their lives around.

When Christ went to the people, he went to the people who needed him the most--the tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, outcasts, the not-so-perfect people that the Pharisees never wanted to interact with. Christ met the people where they were at and brought them to God through His love for them.

We're meeting people where they're at because they don't want to touch a 'traditional church' with a 10 foot pole--in Myspace, Facebook, dance clubs, wherever they're trying to find meaning and relationships, and showing them the kind of relationship and meaning they can have when they come to know Christ.

So long as the 'ad campaign' is designed to bring people to church to get to know God and Christ and meet their needs, I'm good with that. Any legitimate, legal tool used to reach people at a level they can understand works for me. People won't know about Jesus unless we tell them about Him, and if it takes an ad campaign to do that because it's the only medium where these folks can connect with the church, go for it. The moment it turns into an ad campaign to get more money for the church, I have a huge problem with it.

Darth Avlectus
04-14-2009, 11:38 PM
I'm spiritual but not religious. I defend the free market (done RESPONSIBLY), I defend freedon OF religion (as opposed to FROM religion). However...when it coes to this...I am really at a loss of words. I mean, yeah by all reasonable means find a way to spread the word. However, don't plagiarize or something.

jrrtoken
04-15-2009, 10:08 AM
@PastramiX--note that the Bible passages specify that they had turned the Temple into a 'house of robbers'--taking advantage of people and exploiting them, rather than providing the required Passover items at a legitimate price.The "robber" phrase does not specify the price, or the excess of it; In this case, it's more or less of an exaggeration rather than being literal. he overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts.Emphasis mine; he didn't want anyone to sell anything, no matter what the price. He pointed out that using the temple, a holy and religious institution, for the benefit of marketeers was essentially immoral.I'm not all too comfortable with the slick advertising and marketing, but I understand why they're doing it--it's successful, or they wouldn't be the mega-church that they are. They're meeting people at their level, not the church's, and reaching out to others in ways that they can understand. Not my cup of tea, but I see the need there. Our church reaches out to teens on Facebook, gives them fun cards to give out to invite friends to Sunday night youth group, we have a cafe with computers in it, some video game consoles, a couple pool tables and arcade games, a huge sound system, an informal rock band made up of some of the 20-somethings (the bass player traveled with Skillet at one time, so he's a pretty serious player--darn good, too), along with an AV system and a stage to go along with a library of Christian books and CDs. The youth group went from about 15 attendees to 80 high schoolers and 40 middle schoolers the first year they switched to a format that attracted teens. It's heavy on the music, games (including prizes like CDs, gift cards to fast food joints, and so on), group activities, food of some sort or another (donated Panera goodies, pizza, etc), to go along with the youth pastor's message that addresses the issues that teens face, including hard ones like suicide, sex, drugs, and such. These kids aren't going to come out for a staid Amish Sunday-night sing. Some of the kids who come out on Sunday night are tough kids to deal with--we have a couple gang members who show up, and they can be incredibly disruptive at times. They show up mainly for the fun, food, and music, pretty much in that order. However, it means they're safe for a few hours, and they're off the streets not bothering others, and they're getting some food that they might not get otherwise, and maybe the relationships they develop with the other kids and adults of faith will help turn their lives around.So, using materialism to attract children into a church is essentially correct, no matter what claims, promises, and other elements are used? A guy on the street can offer candy to kids to get in his car, and kids might do it, not because of the promise of a free ride, but because of the candy. I'd most certainly believe that the point of the church using such materialism spreads a false message about religion, and is more or less trying to net innocents and their money into something that is supposed to be "good" for them.So long as the 'ad campaign' is designed to bring people to church to get to know God and Christ and meet their needs, I'm good with that. Any legitimate, legal tool used to reach people at a level they can understand works for me. People won't know about Jesus unless we tell them about Him, and if it takes an ad campaign to do that because it's the only medium where these folks can connect with the church, go for it. The moment it turns into an ad campaign to get more money for the church, I have a huge problem with it.Well, it is money for the church, right? Where else does it get its funds, other than parishioner donations?

Jae Onasi
04-15-2009, 02:01 PM
The "robber" phrase does not specify the price, or the excess of it; In this case, it's more or less of an exaggeration rather than being literal. Emphasis mine; he didn't want anyone to sell anything, no matter what the price. He pointed out that using the temple, a holy and religious institution, for the benefit of marketeers was essentially immoral.
Emphasis mine--our church isn't reaching out to these kids for our benefit--we're reaching out to them for theirs.

So, using materialism to attract children into a church is essentially correct, no matter what claims, promises, and other elements are used? A guy on the street can offer candy to kids to get in his car, and kids might do it, not because of the promise of a free ride, but because of the candy. I'd most certainly believe that the point of the church using such materialism spreads a false message about religion, and is more or less trying to net innocents and their money into something that is supposed to be "good" for them.Well, it is money for the church, right? Where else does it get its funds, other than parishioner donations?
The 'promise the kid candy to get in a car' is hardly applicable to what we're doing--we're not pedophiles, for heaven's sake, and the allusion that we might be child predators is incredibly offensive.

We work to make the message FUN for them. Is there something wrong with making God's message of love something pleasurable? We're not making money off these kids--we're spending a LOT, to be honest. Do you have any idea how much money it takes to feed 120 teens? The library of books and CDs we have are Christian related--it's music they might not otherwise pick up and listen to otherwise. They're getting a huge benefit--a good chunk of these kids come from broken homes, or are at-risk kids. They're in a safe place for a few hours, and they're learning social skills and God's message of love--something a number of them don't get at home. We've been able to intervene on behalf of some of these kids in abuse situations and get them out of something they didn't know how to get out of themselves. We don't use deceptive advertising to lure them in--what we use is up front, but it's presented in a way that is attractive to teen culture. There's nothing wrong with working with the materials that are attractive to your target audience.

Deceptive advertising is bad, deceptive use of marketing to make a profit is wrong. The people who come visit the church based on targeted advertising don't have to give money to the church--that's strictly voluntary.

jrrtoken
04-15-2009, 04:37 PM
Emphasis mine--our church isn't reaching out to these kids for our benefit--we're reaching out to them for theirs.Consciously, perhaps. Yet, every good deed always has self-serving purposes, no matter how suppressed and unbeknownst they might be. More members means more influence throughout the community, which means more donations, and therefore revenue and power.The 'promise the kid candy to get in a car' is hardly applicable to what we're doing--we're not pedophiles, for heaven's sake, and the allusion that we might be child predators is incredibly offensive.It doesn't matter what the cause is, it is the notion of attracting people into something as personal as religion with commercial tactics. By promising material substance when joining a church, it creates a culture of superficialities rather than the actual, true message of a religion. By using these tactics, candidate converts can be lured in, and eventually indoctrinated, into religious beliefs, just through something as innocent as a supposed work of charity. That is what I object about using contemporary elements in religious uses: The de facto membership or a religious group that comes with someone receiving a supposed innocent act of charity.Deceptive advertising is bad, deceptive use of marketing to make a profit is wrong. The people who come visit the church based on targeted advertising don't have to give money to the church--that's strictly voluntary.It is voluntary, but once a simple occasional visitor becomes greatly influenced by the real message behind the advertisement, they eventually latch onto the group's teachings, and therefore, become willing to apply themselves unconditionally to the group, becoming one of them.

mur'phon
04-15-2009, 06:39 PM
Consciously, perhaps. Yet, every good deed always has self-serving purposes, no matter how suppressed and unbeknownst they might be.

Agreed

It doesn't matter what the cause is, it is the notion of attracting people into something as personal as religion with commercial tactics. By promising material substance when joining a church, it creates a culture of superficialities rather than the actual, true message of a religion.

Then how are they to atract people? And how would you prevent them from using those tactics?

By using these tactics, candidate converts can be lured in, and eventually indoctrinated, into religious beliefs, just through something as innocent as a supposed work of charity. That is what I object about using contemporary elements in religious uses: The de facto membership or a religious group that comes with someone receiving a supposed innocent act of charity.

You'd rather they didn't do theese charitable things? Yes, it might well end in them becomming members of the church, however, I'd rather have the church helping people to gain members rather than not helping people.

Jedi_Man
04-15-2009, 07:14 PM
Just a question then. When Jesus raised Lazarus, did he subconsciously expect praise and wonder. NO! He did a GOOD ACT, on that you claimed only serves themselves, and never once asked to be followed by them or as such. Was it serving to him? In one way only, It might have swayed peoples view on him. And that serves GOD, not Jesus. Well, in a roundabout way, it does.

jrrtoken
04-15-2009, 07:16 PM
Then how are they to atract people? And how would you prevent them from using those tactics?They can do it without trying to be too obvious and preachy about it. From experience, kids always know exactly when something child-oriented is genuine and when it is not.

As for prevention, I believe that it is essentially impossible, especially with ultra-organized and predominantly Western-based religions.You'd rather they didn't do theese charitable things? Yes, it might well end in them becomming members of the church, however, I'd rather have the church helping people to gain members rather than not helping people.Oh, I definitely agree with that. I donate whenever I'm able to the Salvation Army, mainly because it is more oriented towards selflessness and altruism, rather than scripture and theology based religions. That's why I certainly believe that there is more karma to be gained from actively helping others through selflessness and generosity rather than strictly adhering and conforming to religious standards and dogma.Just a question then. When Jesus raised Lazarus, did he subconsciously expect praise and wonder. NO! He did a GOOD ACT, on that you claimed only serves themselves, and never once asked to be followed by them or as such. Was it serving to him? In one way only, It might have swayed peoples view on him. And that serves GOD, not Jesus. Well, in a roundabout way, it does.Seeing as Jesus was essentially supposed to be God in mind only, I suppose that removes human thought processes. And like I said, the selfish gain is mainly subconscious within most of us.

I'd rather not go too far into theology and philosophy, as that can simply spiral out of control. :)

Darth Avlectus
04-15-2009, 09:55 PM
@ thread
I'm not so sure how I am about this whole tihng. I mean it is good to keep fundamental principals and all, but it's just so difficult to ever get anywhere nowadays with a message you wish to convey unless you do something radical.

Jae Onasi
04-15-2009, 11:57 PM
It doesn't matter what the cause is, it is the notion of attracting people into something as personal as religion with commercial tactics. By promising material substance when joining a church, it creates a culture of superficialities rather than the actual, true message of a religion.
It most certainly does matter--pedophilia is illegal and immoral, giving kids a fun, safe place, some food, and some instruction on basic social skills and morals to be good citizens is moral and ethical. I don't see how you can possibly equate the two.

It's a material culture--that's where a lot of people, Christian and not, are at. You have to start where people are at and help them up. Paul said babies need milk first before they can handle meat--he's right. We have to help people take baby steps in faith before we have them running marathons.

Tommycat
04-16-2009, 03:22 AM
Sooooo it seems that someone would rather the religious NOT have fun? You SHOULD have fun in your faith. Yes, it's about the message.

@PastramiX: Do you equate free demos to pedophiles giving candy? There's a huge difference between what the church receives from these kids and what a pedophile receives. And the pedophile does not let the child leave any time they want. If a person does not want to hear the message, they are free to leave(except in a cult, but then... we're not talking about a cult). If you want to equate something to it, you should say something more like buying a woman at the bar a drink in hopes she'll listen to you. Using the pedophile reference is rude and just flat out insulting at best.

Web Rider
04-16-2009, 10:52 AM
If children have to be tricked to go somewhere with a bribe of candy, clearly, there is a problem with the religion. You should not have to trick people who don't know any better in order to spread your religion.

And this will be my only post here because otherwise I'm going to go on the most horrid attack at these most disgusting posts I've read.

Ray Jones
04-16-2009, 01:29 PM
I guess that whole "we get them away from the streets for an hour" stuff works fine without the religious aspect as well.

jrrtoken
04-16-2009, 03:40 PM
It most certainly does matter--pedophilia is illegal and immoral, giving kids a fun, safe place, some food, and some instruction on basic social skills and morals to be good citizens is moral and ethical. I don't see how you can possibly equate the two.I'm not equating the end result, but the way in which you get their attention. It's a material culture--that's where a lot of people, Christian and not, are at. You have to start where people are at and help them up. Paul said babies need milk first before they can handle meat--he's right. We have to help people take baby steps in faith before we have them running marathons.I'd rather see a religion give the straight dope rather than sugar-coating its messages; That, IMO, distorts the real message of religion, by creating superficialities.

Jae Onasi
04-16-2009, 04:57 PM
If children have to be tricked to go somewhere with a bribe of candy, clearly, there is a problem with the religion. You should not have to trick people who don't know any better in order to spread your religion.

And this will be my only post here because otherwise I'm going to go on the most horrid attack at these most disgusting posts I've read.
Great. I'll say that the comment that we're actually bribing kids to come to church in order to enjoy faith is horrid and disgusting.

We aren't bribing them for faith. They're savvy enough to see right through fake promises--they're some of the most honest people in calling anyone on BS. They're allowed free will to come and go. They have free will to decide to believe or not. They ask tough questions and want honest answers. We're not cramming it down their throats, we're offering it in a way they can relate to. The Gospel is supposed to be "Good News", not 'Boring crap'. Our faith is a celebration of love.

If relating to them requires fun music and some pizza, so what? Do you think they're going to go anywhere, religious or not, if it's done in the style of the 1800's? The Church has to keep up with the times and adapt to serve the people of today, not people who were dead centuries ago. That's what we're doing--adapting to serve the people of today. Christ's love can be shared with medieval motets, Handel's Hallelujah Chorus, or the latest metal rock ballad. Sharing meals has been part of the Christian culture for centuries. Christ shared bread and fish. So what if we use pizza? The leftover pizza and panera bagels and whatever we have that day are going to a couple of kids with drunks for parents who drink whatever money comes into the house instead of feeding the kids. Would you rather we let them go hungry? We have kids off the street and in a warm, safe place--physically and emotionally--for an evening. When some of these kids are at our church, they aren't getting beaten up by their gang members. One of our girls is safe from her father who molested her (yes, we got the police involved in that, and appropriate social services). Some of the other kids are learning basic reading skills by participating. Others are in a place where they're not doing drugs or alcohol for an evening. They come to us fearing adults. They learn there are some people out there who will love them for who they are, warts and good parts all, because Christ shows love for everyone, not the select few who happen to have money or things.

Tell me, since you're so disgusted, what you've done to serve your community before you condemn me and the people in my church who've tried to reach out on a weekly basis who need help physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Do you just sit in the internet ivory tower and gripe about how horrible we Christians must be because we happened to share the good news with some fun and food along with it? Are you doing anything meaningful in your community to help, with or without the religion part? Put your money where your mouth is, get off your duff, and go do something to help. Then you can come back here and condemn those of us who want to reach out to the community and help people just because we want to put our faith in Christ into action in youth groups and soup kitchens instead of just sitting on our butts in a pew.

Tommycat
04-16-2009, 09:48 PM
If children have to be tricked to go somewhere with a bribe of candy, clearly, there is a problem with the religion. You should not have to trick people who don't know any better in order to spread your religion.

And this will be my only post here because otherwise I'm going to go on the most horrid attack at these most disgusting posts I've read.

Bribe? Yeah. Ya know some people have been told enough horrible things about churches, to want to stay away. So getting them to actually listen to what a church offers is an uphill battle. Even getting them to step near a church function is difficult at best. There's plenty of media out there dumping their hate on churches.

Some churches actually do good and it's called a bribe. So if you wanna call it a bribe... It's the same kind of bribe as the free samples in the supermarket. Come in. Try us out. If you don't like it, you can leave anytime, but keep what you got, no questions asked.

I don't like the church myself, but they do a lot of good. Yet they are slandered with indoctrination and bribe accusations here in this thread. I've volunteered several times to help feed the homeless. Many churches offer homeless shelters without making them listen to the sermon. And you know what, most of the people voluntarily go to the sermons because the message is what they want or need to hear. A message of hope.

You call it a bribe, I call it a positive PR campaign.

mimartin
04-16-2009, 10:48 PM
Letís watch the attitude and try to keep the discussion friendly. Everyone is entitled to their opinion even if it does not conform to your opinion or beliefs. Please leave the condescending attitude, sarcastic comments and general snarkiness behind and return to a friendly conversation.

Thanks

Web Rider
04-16-2009, 11:28 PM
Great. I'll say that the comment that we're actually bribing kids to come to church in order to enjoy faith is horrid and disgusting.
Just like suckering anyone else into something is.

We aren't bribing them for faith. They're savvy enough to see right through fake promises--they're some of the most honest people in calling anyone on BS. They're allowed free will to come and go. They have free will to decide to believe or not. They ask tough questions and want honest answers. We're not cramming it down their throats, we're offering it in a way they can relate to. The Gospel is supposed to be "Good News", not 'Boring crap'. Our faith is a celebration of love.
Awwww, that's nice. But I seem to recall when I was 5, I would do anything for candy. And I would do whatever I was told to get candy. Sit still mow the lawn, pull a weed, help mom. Children are people pleasers, not thought provoking geniuses, and they are people pleasers who want candy and will do whatever it takes to get it. Don't believe me? Look up Halloween.

If relating to them requires fun music and some pizza, so what? Do you think they're going to go anywhere, religious or not, if it's done in the style of the 1800's? The Church has to keep up with the times and adapt to serve the people of today, not people who were dead centuries ago. That's what we're doing--adapting to serve the people of today. Christ's love can be shared with medieval motets, Handel's Hallelujah Chorus, or the latest metal rock ballad. Sharing meals has been part of the Christian culture for centuries. Christ shared bread and fish. So what if we use pizza? The leftover pizza and panera bagels and whatever we have that day are going to a couple of kids with drunks for parents who drink whatever money comes into the house instead of feeding the kids. Would you rather we let them go hungry? We have kids off the street and in a warm, safe place--physically and emotionally--for an evening. When some of these kids are at our church, they aren't getting beaten up by their gang members. One of our girls is safe from her father who molested her (yes, we got the police involved in that, and appropriate social services). Some of the other kids are learning basic reading skills by participating. Others are in a place where they're not doing drugs or alcohol for an evening. They come to us fearing adults. They learn there are some people out there who will love them for who they are, warts and good parts all, because Christ shows love for everyone, not the select few who happen to have money or things.
Christ was generous and showed people love because he felt it was the right thing to do. He didn't do it to force "God's Love", he didn't do it to convert people, he did it because he felt it was good to do so.

Tell me, since you're so disgusted, what you've done to serve your community before you condemn me and the people in my church who've tried to reach out on a weekly basis who need help physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
I'm not condemning your charity work. I'm condemning the luring of children who don't know better into something they don't understand.

Do you just sit in the internet ivory tower and gripe about how horrible we Christians must be because we happened to share the good news with some fun and food along with it? Are you doing anything meaningful in your community to help, with or without the religion part? Put your money where your mouth is, get off your duff, and go do something to help. Then you can come back here and condemn those of us who want to reach out to the community and help people just because we want to put our faith in Christ into action in youth groups and soup kitchens instead of just sitting on our butts in a pew.
Someone's got a persecution complex that's for sure. You want to help, go right ahead, but don't tie your help to belief in Christ. I know how so many of these things work as I've seen them in action, you give out food, you build a home....if the person will consider becoming Christian. From aid missions to Africa to soup kitchens, there's always an overtone of "you should love Jesus for this help we're giving you."

So don't get on your high-horse and preach about how I'm so horrible for whatever I may or may not do. All I'm objecting to is tying the string of religion to what otherwise would be simple generosity or altruism.

Bribe? Yeah. Ya know some people have been told enough horrible things about churches, to want to stay away. So getting them to actually listen to what a church offers is an uphill battle. Even getting them to step near a church function is difficult at best. There's plenty of media out there dumping their hate on churches.
And there's plenty of Media promoting it, there are almost a dozen radio stations in my home town that are religious and fairly positive, except the fire+brimstone Catholic station. I'm sure the whole burning in hell, hating on gays and half a dozen other things aren't helping the Church's image in this day and age.

If you want to lure adults in? Great, they can understand how to make those kinds of decisions. It's only luring in children I have qualms with.

Some churches actually do good and it's called a bribe. So if you wanna call it a bribe... It's the same kind of bribe as the free samples in the supermarket. Come in. Try us out. If you don't like it, you can leave anytime, but keep what you got, no questions asked.
With adults, that's fine and dandy, they can make those kinds of decisions. And when you can or cannot leave depends on the sect. You want to leave Mormons or Jehova's? HA! "bribe" "lure" it's all the same, I'm not objecting to the practice, i'm objecting to the target.

I don't like the church myself, but they do a lot of good. Yet they are slandered with indoctrination and bribe accusations here in this thread. I've volunteered several times to help feed the homeless. Many churches offer homeless shelters without making them listen to the sermon. And you know what, most of the people voluntarily go to the sermons because the message is what they want or need to hear. A message of hope.
I'm not denying what the Church does, I'm objecting to targeting those practices at children whose minds are not developed enough to make the "big decisions", especially when it comes to having a big bowl of candy in front of them.

You call it a bribe, I call it a positive PR campaign.
What they do AFTER they get you in is another story, it can be good, it can be bad, it's still a bribe, or a lure, what I am, for the last time, objecting to, is targeting children.

Tommycat
04-16-2009, 11:44 PM
Absolutely target the children. Let them know they are not all fire and brimstone. Let them know that not all of them are hypocritical, before they get to the stage where you are Web. Where you think that churches judge. By the time they get your age, they have pretty well made up their minds that all of them are like that. Expose them to the other view before they become indoctrinated into the hate the church attitude.

Edited to add: You mentioned the religious stations. How many of those stations play music the kids would like?
I know there are plenty of radio stations that are harshly critical of the church. They tend to play the music the kids like. So a kid isn't likely to listen to a station that plays mostly Christian music. More likely they are going to listen to the radio station that their friends listen to.

Totenkopf
04-17-2009, 12:49 AM
C'mon, Web, you're going over the top. You talk like that "church" (or any outfit, really) operates in a vacuum with no other competing ideas saturating these same kids consciousnesses. Pop culture overwhelms most kids awareness. Also, given that many kids now have really short attention spans because of the nature of modern media, it's unlikely these churches are going to be able to lure and keep these "poor gullible children"
in their nefarious grip. ;)

Jae Onasi
04-17-2009, 12:55 AM
Awwww, that's nice. But I seem to recall when I was 5, I would do anything for candy. And I would do whatever I was told to get candy. Sit still mow the lawn, pull a weed, help mom. Children are people pleasers, not thought provoking geniuses, and they are people pleasers who want candy and will do whatever it takes to get it. Don't believe me? Look up Halloween.
That would apply if the kids we were serving were 5. They're teens. They know the difference between a bribe and genuine charity.


Christ was generous and showed people love because he felt it was the right thing to do. He didn't do it to force "God's Love", he didn't do it to convert people, he did it because he felt it was good to do so.So do we. They're not required to convert, ever. They're not even required to stay through the message, ever. They can come and go at any time. You're assuming we're doing this because we want another convert notch on our belts or member in our church to fill the coffers. That is a wrong assumption. Those of us who are volunteering do it because we genuinely care about what happens to these kids, some of whom desperately need something good in their lives so that they don't commit suicide, or turn to alcohol, drugs, gangs, or self-destructive behaviors to try to fill the oppressive emptiness in their hearts and lives.

I'm not condemning your charity work. I'm condemning the luring of children who don't know better into something they don't understand.
Give them a little credit--I'm sure you knew what you thought you wanted to know about religion by your teens.

Someone's got a persecution complex that's for sure. You want to help, go right ahead, but don't tie your help to belief in Christ. I know how so many of these things work as I've seen them in action, you give out food, you build a home....if the person will consider becoming Christian. From aid missions to Africa to soup kitchens, there's always an overtone of "you should love Jesus for this help we're giving you."You're being intolerant of my faith in telling me I should turn my back on that faith in order to do good works. You're also missing the point of most charity, which is to share the love, the bounty of food/medicine/knowledge (in the case of teachers and medical people who volunteer at mission schools or hospitals). There are Baptist and other Christian charity hospitals in Muslim countries who are not allowed by law in those countries to say a single word about Christianity. They're there because they are inspired by Christ's love and care for the sick and poor and want to follow that example, and be an outward expression of that love. They see a desperate need there, and they fill that need. I'm happy to tie my help to Christ, who is the ultimate inspiration for a loving life. Christ fed the poor, healed the sick, showed us the way to love. How else do we show people that same example except by DOING those same kinds of things? If they were forced to convert, if they were forced even to listen to the message, you _might_ have a point. Since we require neither, your point does not stand. They're staying because they want to.

So don't get on your high-horse and preach about how I'm so horrible for whatever I may or may not do. All I'm objecting to is tying the string of religion to what otherwise would be simple generosity or altruism.You were the one being 'preachy' about how good works should be done, and putting the 'no religion allowed' requirement on it. I was challenging you and anyone else in this thread to get out there and actually do some good works, with or without religion as you desire. Then you can come in here and be judgmental if you'd like. I happen to think the message of Christianity, for whatever warts and faults you think it has, still has an underlying core of goodness to it that changes people's lives for the better. Of course I'm going to tell them about that if they ask. I'm not going to beat them over the head with it. We don't kick them out if they don't want to stay for the message. We don't kick them out if they're another faith or no faith at all. We don't kick them out if they dress funny, drink, smoke, or are hooked on drugs (though for obvious reasons, these illegal activities are not allowed at our church), are gay, straight, bi, or have a smurf fetish. We take them in and love them as they are.

You indicated that you might have done some good things for your community. What have you done?

My call to action for anyone reading here stands. If you're not already doing something to help your community, for whatever reason, find something you like to do or are good at, and share with your community. You don't have to do it for religion if you don't want. Do it because the President or someone important in your life inspired you. Do it because people like King, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, or some other paragon of generosity inspires you. It doesn't have to be a big thing. It can be as simple as helping shelve books at the library, filling grocery bags at the local food pantry, volunteering at your local hospital, helping man the phone banks for the MDA telethon, participating in fundraising activities for worthy charities, helping in literacy programs, or working at after school programs helping kids with homework, teaching them music or sports, or any number of things.


And there's plenty of Media promoting it, there are almost a dozen radio stations in my home town that are religious and fairly positive, except the fire+brimstone Catholic station. I'm sure the whole burning in hell, hating on gays and half a dozen other things aren't helping the Church's image in this day and age.A dozen religious stations? I'm stunned. I've never heard of that many in an area before, and I live in between two major metropolitan areas.

If you want to lure adults in? Great, they can understand how to make those kinds of decisions. It's only luring in children I have qualms with.
So you're telling me that at 16 you didn't know the difference between a bribe and charity? My 11 year old has that figured out. We've never had any complaints about our program from any of the hundreds of parents involved accusing us of luring or bribing kids in. There might be a die-hard antitheist or person of some other faith who won't allow their kids to set foot in our door for fear that we'll somehow corrupt them with goodness, but that's the parents' prerogative to deny permission for their kids to go to youth group.

What they do AFTER they get you in is another story, it can be good, it can be bad, it's still a bribe, or a lure, what I am, for the last time, objecting to, is targeting children.
These teens are still free to come an go, believe or not believe. No strings attached. I know that's hard for you to believe.

Web Rider
04-17-2009, 02:16 AM
Absolutely target the children. Let them know they are not all fire and brimstone. Let them know that not all of them are hypocritical, before they get to the stage where you are Web. Where you think that churches judge. By the time they get your age, they have pretty well made up their minds that all of them are like that. Expose them to the other view before they become indoctrinated into the hate the church attitude.
Exposing kids to the not-evils of the Church and attempting to convert them are two different things. Yes I don't like organized religion, but that's because I've experienced the short end of a lot of it.

Edited to add: You mentioned the religious stations. How many of those stations play music the kids would like?
I know there are plenty of radio stations that are harshly critical of the church. They tend to play the music the kids like. So a kid isn't likely to listen to a station that plays mostly Christian music. More likely they are going to listen to the radio station that their friends listen to.
None, but then there are no "pop music" stations in that town, so it's hardly surprising. I'm sure the nearby city has more options, but I'm not generally listening to them.

...teens...

Well I guess there's the problem then. I thought you were talking about actual little kids, a practice I've seen, so that's what I figured you meant. Teens are another story and IMO, fair game.

I'm too tired to address the charity part with a full head, I'll get back to it tomorrow.

Tommycat
04-17-2009, 03:30 AM
For the record, I call anyone under 20 a kid. Kids still legally required to stay with their parents(or legal guardian) are children. I'm sure as I age, that "kid" age will creep up.

So there are no music stations in your town? Or just no "Pop Music" stations. What music do they play?

And Jae, I've seen a few places where they have lots of Christian stations(I used to do consulting all over the US and drove darn near everywhere). Most have the same station broadcast at two frequencies. Major cities however generally have a few hard to tune in stations(where their signal is kinda overlapped by another station that boosts their power output significantly).

And any children that are not old enough to make the distinction on their own would kinda have to bring their parents. I mean how would they get there.

Note: Churches are not indoctrination centers. I mean most atheists I know used to be church goers.

as for Mormons, I think you've been snowed by the media. Mormons around here are not the type to lock the doors and refuse to let you leave. Maybe you live in a wierder place than me...

Darth Avlectus
04-17-2009, 05:57 AM
Hmm. Well, I am not a religious person. In fact, I am talked down upon by extended family because I am not an active church goer, and for the jewish side of my family, temple. I have partaken in some Native American rituals. I am spiritual, not religious. Though I do believe the two end up clumped together and hence why they do seem to be used interchangeably. Just feel a need to make that distinction.

I would daresay, though, that where society exerts great influence, our fundamental values and universal truths MUST, at some point, shine through that to reach the people of society. What good is progress if you forget the principles and such, nay the very foundation upon which you came to view the world in the first place? Upon which your own society was built?

One negative example where religion and consumerism come together is the holidays and their being overly corporatized. If I'm not mistaken, we talk about that here on LF every Christmas. It has become about the gifts more than the thoughts of perpetual generosity.

However, I have gone to conventions like anime/comic conventions and seen talented local artists making comics and mangas of the bible and many of its lessons. In a sense it all depends how it is used. However, where I see kids getting into it, it makes one wonder whether the magic of it all is what is conveyed, or how it is conveyed. Some cases, I even see young adults with little exposure to it, now suddenly enveloped in it. For certain I know this, it is not the belief system itself where the bad comes from, it is the people in it. It does a heart good, though, to hear them say the act of doing kindness and knowing that you are helping is reward enough; that they don't need a reward. Such things cannot be bought. Though people will pay greatly for it.


In general, if some level of adaptation is needed to survive with times and changes, I'd rather it survive than no. Even if I disagree intensely with whatever is being preached ad-nauseum, I support the idea that such things are available.

"Freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. --Michael Savage

I try not to get too specific about god. For the reason that I do not wish to limit and shape god in my image or in other ways. If god is really such a grand being.

Personally, there is also a great lesson that can be applied in all aspects of life: It takes a great deal of effort more to create rather than destroy.

Web Rider
04-17-2009, 02:42 PM
So there are no music stations in your town? Or just no "Pop Music" stations. What music do they play?
Country and oldies rock.

Note: Churches are not indoctrination centers. I mean most atheists I know used to be church goers.
Not me says I.

as for Mormons, I think you've been snowed by the media. Mormons around here are not the type to lock the doors and refuse to let you leave. Maybe you live in a wierder place than me...

Actually this was the experience in my home town when a family friend attempted to leave the religion. They weren't as bad as the Jehova's who were downright inhuman, but it certainly had strong tones of "you're not loved by this family as much now that you're not a Mormon."

Jae Onasi
04-17-2009, 03:13 PM
Well I guess there's the problem then. I thought you were talking about actual little kids, a practice I've seen, so that's what I figured you meant. Teens are another story and IMO, fair game.
Ah, got it.

Any kids who are involved in our church have to have parent approval to be there--that's for the kids' protection as well as the church workers.

We have a family friend who left Mormonism for non-denominational evangelical Protestant. The Mormon church expressed sadness at losing him but weren't nasty to him.

jrrtoken
04-17-2009, 04:33 PM
The problem that arises when attaching a cause or ideal to an act of generosity is that people will see it, and they will question your true intentions. Was the act done for pure altruism, or was it also done to purport one's personal agenda? By using ideals, any seemingly genuine act of kindness can come under question as simply trying to earn reputation for a group of a individuals.

Jae Onasi
04-17-2009, 05:29 PM
The problem that arises when attaching a cause or ideal to an act of generosity is that people will see it, and they will question your true intentions. Was the act done for pure altruism, or was it also done to purport one's personal agenda? By using ideals, any seemingly genuine act of kindness can come under question as simply trying to earn reputation for a group of a individuals.
That can be said of any altruistic act, no matter what cause (or lack thereof) it's attached to. If it's not done for a cause, people will question what you're getting out of it personally.

Darth Avlectus
04-17-2009, 06:49 PM
So basically, you can't do anything without being accused of of acting like a greedy bastard? Mmm. Doesn't bother me. I used to try to do charitable stuff, but for one reason or another I was ostracized and criticized. People would say I was just doing it to cover up a wrong. Funny how these folks would play favorites and refuse to see the faults of their own.

Actions speak louder than words ever could. While it is possible to measure intent to a certain extent, I don't really know of any 100% reliable way to know what another's intentions are.

I also agree that teens are fair game. As are impressionable adults on the brink of some kind of failure.

EDIT: I also still do charitable stuff and donations, BTW. A bunch of cranky hypocrites didn't ruin that for me.