the grass is greener on the internet

In the brand name of the father…
August 29, 2008, 3:56 pm
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“Is God dead?”

This is the slogan which greeted me on campus, as the most prominent evangelical society kick-started its annual campaign for believers.

[Disclaimer:: This article concerns the promotions of religion, not the subject of religion itself. The author retains the right to be religiously ambiguous.]

Christian marketing is really taking off. The last decade or so has seen the rise of Christian music as a genre unto itself, as well as an increasing number of mass masses which you could almost mistake for rock concerts.

I’m told that the church is now quite a solid business. (Out of interest, if you’re wondering where churches get the money to keep running, here‘s an indicator.) Even if they’re not required to report where they’re getting the money from or how they use it, more seems to be spent now on managing the media, promoting ‘the word’ and generally ‘keeping with the times’. There are targets set for new recruitment, and sometimes a calculated retention rate.

But back to this campaign. Following the ‘Is God dead?’ slogan was a brief on activities for the rest of the week, which were essentially a series of talks/debates. Day 1: Yes, Day 2: No, Day 3: Debate with atheists, etc. [Day 7 inevitably being left for rest.]

The title, stating the assumption of the existence of God, shows that the ‘debate’ has been initiated by the religious side; not a good start when you’re trying to appeal with an ‘unbiased discussion’. Placing the debate in the middle of a week of pro-Christian seminars, even if it’s co-run by atheists, also makes it clear who’s running the show and what the aims are. Then again, choice of religion has always been a highly emotive topic which is not necessarily governed by logic anyway.

So how do you stir a mostly apathetic campus into making a leap of faith? Christianity has clearly set out its own value proposition (eternal life etc.) but the key issue is establishing credibility. I think this campaign gave it a good shot, but lost out on execution. 

Will this campaign directly get more people to believe in their cause? Probably not, as most people in university are already as religious as they’re going to get (not to mention that the most effective form of recruitment is generally a referral). Will it get more people to participate in religious debates on campus? Not much more than the usual crowd. HOWEVER, it will most likely get a few more people to think about their spirituality, which may lead to conversions later on, or indirectly.

Admittably this is less radical than other promotions by the same group. A previous campaign saw pro-Christian posters ‘vandalised’ with anti-Christian messages to try and provoke discussion. They also had stats on the number of people in different groups of society, coming down to ‘1 Tom Cruise’. This apparently was meant to prove that there is a God.

Got irony much?


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