Another week with the BWF
John Dorhauer printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 12:30:17 AM EST
2 Biblical Witness Foundation Ads
 Two "ads" appeared this week on the Biblical Witness Fellowship web site. The BWF is one of the Institute on Religion and Democracy's renewal groups - one of its minions of trained activists (or, as they are referred to on the BWF website, trained `renewalists.')

They are supposed to be clever - they are not. They are supposed to somehow mimic or mirror the award winning ads which the United Church of Christ have run for the last three years - they do not.

Forget about all of that.

What is most striking is the manner in which the second of these equates the aftermath of General Synod last July with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

What is most striking is the manner in which the second of these ads equates the aftermath of General Synod last July with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It reads: "Summer 2005 - Katrina/General Synod - Still cleaning up"

Before I write about how utterly offensive and callous that is, let me give you all a word about General Synod and the work of the renewalist/activists.

On July 4th last summer, the United Church of Christ overwhelmingly supported at its Biennial gathering a resolution calling for an Equality of Marriage rights. There has been a great deal of misunderstanding about this resolution in terms of what it did and did not say. In essence, the resolution supported the notion that the civil rights of no person should be denied by our government based on the sexual orientation of any citizen of the state or union.

It asked local churches to seriously discuss the matter of civil rights, and to consider amending their marriage rights to reflect language inclusive of all.

It would be naïve of anyone in this climate - in which Dominionists, Christian Nationalists, and IRD trained activists of all stripes have enflamed the passions of homophobes across this land by pushing to the limit this wedge issue - to believe that even such a tame resolution could pass without some turmoil and uproar. And to be sure, the work of the BWF and others within the United Church of Christ has kept this issue on the front burner for almost a year now.

Some churches have fought mighty battles over this. Some have voted out.

Some have heeded the challenge of the resolution and had mature conversations about it and agreed to disagree.

Some have even moved to declare themselves Open and Affirming (a designation in the UCC that signals your complete welcome of all regardless of sexual orientation).

The UCC has received into its fellowship churches that have voted to affiliate since Synod of last year (any my own St. Louis Association is one of those).

Each of these things has happened.

What has not happened as a result of this is the demolition of an entire city.

Countless tens of thousands have not had their homes and lives destroyed.

An entire coastland's inhabitants are not still a year later scrambling to put back to fragments of their lives.

To write on your website what is meant to be a clever jab at a covenantal partner in faith in a way that equates the deliberations of a church over an ecclesial matter to the aftermath of one of the worst natural disasters in this nation's history is an astounding and egregious affront that belies this `renewal groups' deeper, and more sinister, intentions.

I have no doubt that in their minds what happened at Synod with an over 80% MAJORITY favorable vote felt like a hurricane to them. That they would have the audacity after witnessing what happened to an entire city and coastline to compare what those people are still suffering through to what they felt after they lost a vote at Synod says more about how out of touch with reality they are and how offensive they can be than anything I can write.

So, why go on?

Can't think of another word for it. Not that I don't trust you but had to go to the web site and see it for myself (whole holding my nose).

What hit me was that it wasn't just the ad but the whole web site. What an amateurish and alien creature. It's not only so un-UCC but really uncool for an IRD product. They're usually more subtle than that. They even have a mission link to an activity sponsored by someone with Campus Crusade. Gave me the chills - and left me wondering who they're trying to appeal to -  the lowest common denominator?

Move over Landover Baptist. Betty Bowers has competition.

by Psyche on Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 02:18:40 AM EST

This is truly one of the most amateurish, unsublte sites created. It is less that they are trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator than that they are being run and managed by the lowest common denominator. They imagine themselves to be a renewal group, but nothing about their language or their intent bespeaks renewal of any kind. So many of the pastors they are attracting in the 'evangelical seminaries' they often refer to and recruit at end up there not because of their theology per se, but because they couldn't make it at another seminary. They just can't handle the rigors of the masters level work required of them there. And when they are invited to consider another career path, they cry out that they are being unfairly weeded out because of their theology. They get recruited by the BWF and become activists for taking over and taking out churches. The quality of their work and material can be witnessed on their website.
Shalom, Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer "Time makes ancient good uncouth; we must onward still and upward who would keep abreast of truth." from Lowell, "The Present Crisis"
by John Dorhauer on Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 08:49:26 AM EST
That background is helpful.

On a more positive note: If this pathetic attempt at "takeover" by the opposition is any indication of its strength, I feel hopeful about the future of the UCC.

by Psyche on Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 02:09:21 PM EST

Well said.
Shalom, Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer "Time makes ancient good uncouth; we must onward still and upward who would keep abreast of truth." from Lowell, "The Present Crisis"
by John Dorhauer on Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 04:04:48 PM EST

I made my statement well known several months back regarding dominionists claiming Katrina was "divine retribution", "cleansing", or other nonsense in a little page I set up and which is linked in my profile.

I'll go ahead and post the link for you all:

Katrina Is Not Divine Retribution, or "Why Do Dominionists Hate NOLA?"

BTW, I've added Biblical Witness Fellowship to the main Hall of Shame on that site.  Sadly, it's not an uncommon view in the more hardline dominionist sects. :(

by dogemperor on Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 08:40:37 AM EST

honor was richly deserved.

I can think of nothing more appropriate than this.
Shalom, Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer "Time makes ancient good uncouth; we must onward still and upward who would keep abreast of truth." from Lowell, "The Present Crisis"
by John Dorhauer on Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 10:05:04 AM EST

From what mindset would an ad concept such as this spring?

Sometimes, my entire day is spent writing or considering ad copy, and my thought upon seeing these ads were: WHY THIS? OF ALL THE OPTIONS.

There are always at least several choices with every online ad--every word, every color, every link, everything involved. To make the choices the BWF did seems mean-spirited . . . OR . . .

perhaps just lazy.

At the end of the day, certain these BWF ads won't be seen more widely than the original ads they're mean to echo, so by definition they won't be as effective (that's not saying they won't be effective enough--I'm not sure how the BWF ads' creators will measure the ads' success).

In fact, it seems that the above ads will actually manage to make many members their audience mindful primarily of the award-winning ads. That's actually rather pathetic.

It's sort of like how a survey done more than 10 years ago now by Duracell found that their brand strength was so much stronger than Energizer's (at that time anyway) that more than 1/2 of respondents when asked what company the battery bunny represented answered, "Duracell."

"And going, and going, and going...." drum/drum/drum/drum :)

In a way, these web ads are also an acknowledgement of a rival enterprise's better effort. Again, that's just sort of pathetic.

by IseFire on Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 12:50:33 PM EST

I am glad you acknowledged that angle. So many times they produce things on their website that you can tell are an attempt to be clever; but that also demonstrate an incredible lack of wit, humor, or even effort. And they are are so proud of it. They don't realize how embarassing it is, and when folk like me point it out to them they think to themselves 'Well, what would you expect from a liberal?'

In the end, it does help our case - it does portray them as sort of pathetic. But too many people are willing to settle for pathetic, buying in the end their argument that they represent God, and we evil.
Shalom, Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer "Time makes ancient good uncouth; we must onward still and upward who would keep abreast of truth." from Lowell, "The Present Crisis"
by John Dorhauer on Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 07:30:30 AM EST

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