Friday, December 24, 2004


Why, when it's religious speech, of course. The International Bible Society sparked controversy when it paid for New Testaments to be included in a newspaper. Some, as you might imagine, are not happy:
hen the International Bible Society paid to insert a copy of the New Testament in last Sunday's issue of The Colorado Springs Gazette, it thought it had found an astute way to spread Scripture.

The volume went into the same pocket of the newspaper's plastic pouch where items like CD's from America Online or soap samples often go. The Bible group paid the standard advertising rate, and its spokeswoman, Judy Billings, said it considered the 91,000 copies of the New Testament a Christmas gift to the people of Colorado Springs....

Some Jews and Muslims said getting the New Testament with the Sunday paper felt like being proselytized in their homes. Journalism critics debated whether this was free speech or skating too close to an endorsement of a particular religion.

Does anyone assume the newspaper endorses Moe's Hardly Damaged Automobiles when he advertises? Well of course not. Thankfully, the paper's publisher seems to be a sensible fellow:
Bob Burdick, publisher of The Gazette, said that the paper regularly took advertising from religious and political groups, and that most readers understood that such advertisements did not amount to an endorsement of their ideas.

"We're not in the business of stifling ideas," Mr. Burdick said. "I don't think papers have to back away from ideas because they're religious ideas, just as they shouldn't back away from ideas because they're political ideas."

Some were a little silly about it:
Rabbi Anat Moskowitz* canceled her subscription to the Gazette because she didn't approve of the way the text was delivered.

"All Jews treat holy books with reverence and respect," Moskowitz said. "I don't like the fact that most people drive over their newspaper in the morning. We find that disrespectful."

Moskowitz and other worshipers from Temple Shalom in Colorado Springs didn't protest the giveaway per se, but have decided to give copies they received to local churches that want them.

Most astonishing to Moskowitz was that IBS spent $125,000 to distribute the New Testament rather than donate the money to a homeless shelter or some other needy organization.

"There are so many things that the money could be used for," she said. "There are families who cannot get through the week, let alone the day. Get them a box of food. Feed their bodies and their souls."

The rabbi also was disturbed that photographs of the city of Colorado Springs and other landmarks were printed on the cover as if to suggest the city is a Christians-only city.

Uh, yeah. It's the International Bible Society, Ms. Moskowitz, not Meals on Wheels. There are far too many churches already that would rather spend their time and energy handing out food for the body instead of food for the soul:
But He answered and said, "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'" (Matthew 4:4)
Jesus was quoting Moses from Deuteronomy 8:3. Ms. Moskowitz would do well to read it and see if she's able to learn what the Israelites of that generation failed to.

But I've gotten off track. Ultimately I can think of no better evangelistic effort than giving someone a Bible. And that's what has the anti-Christians upset.

[*Obligatory woman preacher quote from Samuel Johnson: "Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."]

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