Backgrounds of the Restoration Movement: Manufacturing a Christian Protest

passioncartoonThis is from Phil Cooke’s “The Change Revolution”

On June 2nd, a protest march was staged outside the Los Angeles Convention Center. It was Christians protesting the release of the new video game by Electronic Arts called Dante’s Inferno game, according to the Associated Press. The only problem? It was all staged. Because Christian protests in the past have generated publicity, EA decided to hire a marketing company to create the whole thing. They even created this fake Christian protest website called “We Are Saved.” As World Magazine reported:

“Channeling its best Ned Flanders, Electronic Arts (EA), distributor of popular gaming software titles like Madden and Rockband, staged a protest-of its own product. A marketing team hired by EA staged a protest of EA’s upcoming release “Dante’s Inferno,” a third-person action-adventure game based loosely on the epic poem by the Italian poet. The undercover marketing group sought to stir up publicity at a trade show in Los Angeles on June 6 by posing as Christians who objected to the game, saying video games ought not glorify eternal damnation. The paid picketers even held up signs that read, “Hell Is Not a Video Game” and “Trade in Your PlayStation for a PrayStation.”

What is your reaction to this? When the culture creates a parody protest from Christians, isn’t that a huge indicator that the real ones they’re making fun of, don’t work? Maybe it’s time Christians created a new engagement strategy.

Why is it that Christian boycotts and protests actually help products sell? Aren’t the vast majority of Americans Christian? Shouldn’t that make a boycott very effective? What’s the problem?

What would be a more effective way to protest those things we oppose as Christians?

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10 Responses

  1. Protests sell products because protests bring free advertising. And some people will buy some products just to spite the protesters.

    I have always been puzzled by “things we oppose as Christians.” Lets pass a law against sin and hate. Ooops, we’ve already done that in America. We have “hate” crimes. How is that working?

    Anyways, what is it that I oppose as a Christian? How about I stop opposing things and start promoting things instead?

  2. After reading several news stories about how young girls had been enslaved in prostitution and their services sold on Craigslist, I e-mailed the CEO and the founder of Craigslist asking them to shut down the erotic (or adult) services portion of their business. I explained that they were fascilitating human trafficking, exploitation, and rape. They never took me seriously, but they are constantly in trouble with law enforcement agencies. I have never called for a boycott (but I personally will not use their services because of their cavalier attitude toward those who are being abused by people who use their services). I’m not sure that they will be reached.

    On the other hand, when I saw pornographic magazines on display at the convenience store nearest to my home, I asked the owners to stop carrying them. I never threatened a boycott, but they took my concerns seriously and stopped selling the magazines.

    Sometimes simply asking someone to do what is right works. Sometimes nothing works.

  3. Dwayne,
    You are exactly right – especially when it is a product that we are protesting. Boycotts, to be effective, require massive participation, which is difficult to organize without the publicity that attracts counter-protesters to the product. If we must protest a product, probably a letter writing campaign to the producers or sellers of the product is better than public protests with signs condemning it.

    The best response to evil is good. Seems that Paul said that to the Romans, who certainly had much evil in their culture they could have protested!

  4. I thought of one other way to challenge the wrongs of our culture. A couple of years ago, I heard about a couple who spent their Saturday mornings outside of an abortion clinic. Every weekend, they would hand out letters to the girls and women entering the clinic, letting them know that they were wanting to adopt a baby. Eventually, one of the clients placed a child that would have been aborted with the family.

    I wish I had done that when my wife and I were in the adoption process, but everything worked out well for us anyway. 🙂

  5. “Why is it that Christian boycotts and protests actually help products sell?”

    Dwayne nailed it on the first try: people buy controversial products to spite those who stir up the controversy.

    “Aren’t the vast majority of Americans Christian?”

    Culturally, yes, but not in a way that means anything.

    “Shouldn’t that make a boycott very effective? What’s the problem?”

    We love our freedom more than we love God.

    “What would be a more effective way to protest those things we oppose as Christians?”

    Don’t buy it, lead by example, and don’t give it free advertising by protesting. Also, stop running to the courts like schoolyard sissies everytime our delicate sensibilities are offended. Why are we suprised when unsaved people act unsaved?

  6. “stop running to the courts like schoolyard sissies everytime our delicate sensibilities are offended.” Excellent choice of words. I wish I’d written that.

    Notice the two effective examples that Terry mentioned. One or two persons doing something. No organization, no massive numbers. One or two people doing things in their lives every day. No revolutions, just revival.

  7. We should be working on the demand side, not the supply side. Rather than trying to stop some corporation from selling a product whose use may be sinful, we should try to persuade individuals not to sin.

    Fighting sin from the supply side misses the point. If we eliminate one “sinful” product, people will find others. It would be better to persuade individual people to flee from sin.

  8. Odgie,

    I think you’re right that we often love our freedom more than God. But it’s also true that we disagree with the views of those who wish to speak through mass boycotts.

    The Southern Baptist boycott of Disney (including subsidiary ESPN) failed not only because we weren’t willing to give up Mickey Mouse and football but because many thought it was a bad idea.

    The Southern Baptist Convention has learned from the experience, by the way. Every effort to pass a boycott at this year’s convention failed to pass.

    Of course, another problem is that in a market as large as the U.S., you only need a small percentage of the people to be very successful. If 70% boycott and 10% consume, you can get very rich. If the boycott publicizes the product so that 15% consume rather than 10%, well, then you pray for a boycott.

    This is what happened with the Last Temptation of Christ several years ago. I doubt many of watched the movie but for the boycotts organized by churches — which garnered major national publicity and made millions for the producers.

    When I was a kid, many books and movies advertised “Banned in Boston” — because getting Boston to ban the product guaranteed higher sales. (Yes, Boston has changed a lot in 50 years.)

    But — as you point out — often it’s the Christians who are in the 10% or 15% doing the buying. If the church members weren’t buying pornography and going to strip clubs, most would close.

  9. Hey guys,
    Thought I would join in the discussion and see if I could add something of interest.
    1. Dad always has said, I agree, “never under estimate the power of the individual”. He too went into a store, and when he saw that porn materials were being sold, he either went to the manager or sent a letter to the President of the company (“always go to the top”), and told him that he comes quite often to his store, and was disappointed that he would have to stop. Reason: He objected to this type of degrading material being sold in what he had thought was a family oriented store. He got a quick reply, “the materials will be removed,,, thank you for your patronage…. it is appreciated.
    2. While it may be true, that the more attention given to evil, those so inclined will pay more attention to it. It still does not take away our responsibility to stand up for the good, and protest against evil.
    3. It is ashamed that within the Churches of Christ, we are weakened so much by splitting and dividing over silly things, that something which should waken the giant to action, only wakens a small portion of the ‘giant’, and thus we have little affect. The more unified we are, the more affect we will have on the world, (Jno. 17:20-26).
    Keep writing and responding you guys. I really enjoy these blogs.

    All the best,
    Jack Exum Jr.

  10. Do our lives offer anything that is different, set apart, or holy? Do we demonstrate a joy in our marriages and families that makes the world pause and take notice? Are the poor around us receiving the overflow of our lives, or are we simply building bigger barns, or renting storage?

    To paraphrase a famous author, people who honor Jesus with their lips but deny him by their lifestyle – that is what an unbelieving world finds unbelievable.

    Revival is not about getting the culture to change. Revival is about God’s Kingdom breaking through to earth and making things right. If we stop trying to heal our hurts with worldly elixirs, and focus on helping the poor, then the use of our money becomes Kingdom-ized, our joy becomes better than worldly pleasures, and we’ll start looking like the Lord’s church.

    Only then will anyone notice.

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