Religion and Spirituality

Constructive Criticism: Christian Advertising

I write blog posts on the terrible ways (tracts, street preachers) Christians attempt to convince me that their religion is the best.  It is easy to identify problems.  It is less easy, though often more important, to identify better solution. So.  What I would prefer to see Christians doing, instead of hanging out on streets yelling at people and/or passing out tracts, is something demonstrably real to benefit the community without preaching attached to it. There’s a lot they could simply because most Christian congregations own, tax-free, a large building with parking which is mostly unused most of the time.  They could:

  • Install solar panels, make the building completely self-sufficient and green, and sell the excess back to the grid.
  • Provide the space at competitive rates for community events.  There’s a Unitarian Universalist congregation near where I live that hosts concerts and dances on a regular basis. More religious groups should do this.

I was also thinking that maybe the churches could run a homeless shelter or provide affordable childcare (a much better way to encourage women to make babies than harassing folk at Planned Parenthood) but I am skeptical of the ability of Christians to run a homeless shelter that doesn’t discriminate and doesn’t require beneficiaries to be preached at, or their ability of providing childcare services with protection from sexual predators.

Any other ways to make the clusters of churches on every street corner more of a benefit to society?

Featured Image Credit: Boston Public Library via Flickr

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Elizabeth is a professional belly dancer, a flaky computer scientist, and a returned Peace Corps volunteer. She lives in Georgia (the state of the U.S., not the country) but is nonetheless somehow not a combination of stereotypes from Gone with the Wind and Deliverance. Her personal blog is Coffeefied. Operafied. Fluffified. Beglittered.


  1. June 19, 2016 at 2:04 pm —

    Funny.. In Arizona, and I am sure they are pushing it other places too, its all but useless to “sell” your excess power. Pretty sure that, even if churches where the ones doing it, they wouldn’t change this, since it would defeat the purpose of taxing the sale of power back to said companies (so the tax money can be, presumably, gifted to them to make up for what they lost by not gouging the intended seller by just making solar illegal, and forcing them to buy from the company), or other tactics meant to keep the power companies in profit. After all, money is God, and you can’t offend god, even in those silly buildings where everyone pretends to worship Jesus instead….

    As for providing venues.. Ugh.. No thanks. First they would have to prove, like with the one you mention, that they have no agenda to push on a captive audience. The track record of such groups has been to either ladle their “faith” out *before* the soup is even put out on table (or the venue is officially opened for business, or by having the church do all the decoration, so its all “in theme”, like they do with their atrocious Halloween venues, etc., not to honestly provide the community with a venue to rent, which they can use as desired. And, even if they do… then its 100% certain that, within months, at least, someone will be rejected from renting the space, on the grounds of some misunderstanding, bigotry, or “moral” grounds, right in line with certain cake bakers, or Hobby Lobby.

    Basically, I wouldn’t, personally, trust such an offering as far as I could throw the building it was in. And, neither should anyone else who has any sense, and a healthy dislike of people whose are looking to recruit, by appearing to be way nicer, and open minded, than their organizations *usually* tend to actually be.

    Nope, I am sure it would work pretty well, if crafted the right way, but.. I can’t say I think the world needs religions making slick advertisements, that appear to place their views in the absolute best light possible, and which people fall for, as a result, than we need more such things from BP, or Exxon. I.e., the last thing we need is for the worst of such groups to learn anything about appearing “nice”, or “community conscious”, how ever unbelievable the result might still be to those people who are paying attention, instead of falling for it.

  2. June 20, 2016 at 11:02 am —

    Absolutely. And some liberal Christian churches are already doing this well.

    The Sudbury school I work with rents space in a Methodist church. Our school is NOT religious in any way, and the church is fine with that and sees our school as part of their mission. Their other tenants aren’t religiously affiliated, either.

    I’ve known ELCA churches that run homeless shelters and other services for the homeless that are truly no strings attached.

    Of course, there are so many people who DO attach strings that potential users of these services are naturally skeptical.

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