Signs and Wonders: Truth in advertising

by Warren Cole Smith
Posted 10/09/13, 09:10 am

Dueling billboards. You may have seen billboards by atheist groups with messages such as “Keep Religion Out of Government.” If you haven’t seen them, this website keeps an archive. Now, though, a Christian group is answering the atheists with billboards of its own. Answers in Genesis posted billboards in New York’s Times Square and elsewhere with the message: “To all our atheist friends: Thank God you’re wrong.” Answers in Genesis president Ken Hamm said he hopes the billboards will “get people talking about God.” The group did not release the cost of the advertising, and Times Square billboard companies do not publish their rates, but a 2005 article in Advertising Age put the cost at between $165,000 and $350,000 per month. UPDATE: Answers in Genesis contacted WORLD after the publication of this item to report that the campaign, which includes 10 billboards displayed for four weeks, cost around $200,000.

Music royalties. Mel Watt is one of the most liberal members of the House of Representatives.  That’s why it’s notable when he introduces a piece of legislation called the Free Market Royalty Act (FMRA), which would require radio stations to pay fees to artists when their songs are played on the air. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), which represents the large broadcasting companies, opposes the bill. The NAB prefers direct deals between rightsholders and broadcasters, rather than a deal set by the federal government. However, such deals, says the Future of Music Coalition, “apply [only] to those at the negotiating table, which means the vast majority of musicians do not have the leverage to compel any compensation for the use of their music by consolidated corporate radio.” The Future of Music Coalition, a left-leaning organization, adds: “We are aware of the need to ensure that small and noncommercial broadcasters are not overburdened by a terrestrial performance right, and are encouraged that FMRA’s sponsors and supporters recognize the value of those who bring so much diversity to our broadcast landscape.

Scout slide continues. According to NBC News, British Scouts can now recite a new “atheist” version of the Scout Oath that makes no mention of God or faith. The 106-year-old British Scouting Association has until now required this pledge: “On my honor, I promise that I will do my best, to do my duty to God and to the Queen, to help other people and to keep the Scout Law.” The new wording changes the first phrase to read: “I promise that I will do my best to uphold our Scout values.” Wayne Bulpitt, U.K. chief commissioner of The Scouting Association, said “Throughout its 106-year history the movement has continued to evolve and today marks an important step in that journey. It also signifies the determination to become truly inclusive and relevant to all sections of society that it serves. We are a values-based movement and exploring faith and beliefs remains a key element of the Scouting program. That will not change.” This non-change will go into effect in January 2014.

Shutdown? What shutdown? The so-called government “shutdown” furloughed about 800,000 of the federal government’s more than 4 million workers. Now, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has ordered about 350,000 of the 800,000 back to work. Not only does this order make a mockery of the idea of a government “shutdown” as a tool for forcing action, it also seriously undermines the GOP strategy of proposing targeted bills into the House to fund pieces of government. Still, it appears the GOP is not getting hurt any worse than anyone else in the public relations war. A plurality of Americans blame Republicans for the shutdown, but not by a huge margin. Congress’s approval rating is now less than 25 percent. A Reuters poll had President Obama’s approval rating at 41 percent, a near record low for him.

Briefly noted. Theologian, author, and singer/songwriter Dr. Michael Milton has been named president and senior fellow of the newly founded D. James Kennedy Institute for Christianity and Culture.

Warren Cole Smith

Warren is vice president of mission advancement for The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview and the host of WORLD Radio’s Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.

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