Sunday, January 23, 2005

Zondervan and Rolling Stone

The Religious Right is up in arms about Rolling Stone's refusal to print an advertisement for Zondervan's new Bible, aimed at young people. The ad in question included this text:
Today it makes sense more than ever. In a world of almost endless media noise and political spin, you wonder where you can find real truth. Well now there's a source that's accurate, clear, and reliable. It's the TNIV -- Today's New International Version of the Bible. It's written in today's language, for today's times -- and it makes more sense than ever.
Rolling Stone had initially sold the ad space to Zondervan, but withdrew it after they saw the ad. Jerry Falwell has this to say:
This controversy comes down to one question: Where is the harm in running the Zondervan ad in a secular publication? I’m not asserting that the editors at Rolling Stone hate religion. Mr. Brownridge proclaimed that he didn't disagree with it. But I am increasingly concerned with this perspective of absolute secularism that prohibits the religious community from participating in the free flow of cultural ideas. I doubt if Rolling Stone would have seen a mass exodus among its subscriber base if it had approved the Zondervan ad. And I doubt if the publication’s editors even feared such a response. It appears that they simply did not want a religious message — and particularly one from an evangelical perspective — to be in their publication. While the editors say they "are not in the business of publishing advertising for religious messages," this still stinks of censorship. So what does one find at Rolling Stone? A search of the publication's website reveals political content (President Bush’s Social Security policy is a "con"), music themes (singer Gwen Stefani appears on the home page posing in a bra) and plenty of rock and roll excess (including a "big pimpin'" interview with jeweler Chris Aire).
Unsurprisingly, I am endlessly amused by the Rev. Falwell's description of Rolling Stone's features, and also of The Onion:
Thankfully, other secular outlets — including The Onion (hardly a bastion of conservative religious values),, VH-1 and America Online — have accepted the Zondervan ad. I commend each of them for operating under a policy of openness to religious expression.
More surprisingly, perhaps, I agree with absolutely everything that Jerry Falwell has to say about this issue. Secular means non-religious, not anti-religious. And I don't see anything particularly offensive in the ad in question. USA Today's story suggests that the objection had to do with the ad's use of the word 'truth', but does not offer a quote to that effect. Anyway, 'truth' is a pretty innocent word. Zondervan shouldn't exercise religious censorship, and there's no good reason not to print that ad.


  1. I think it's funny that the Reverend commended the Onion, who called him a Very Bad Name in a headline regarding his now-infamous comments on 9/11/01. ~Mr. Broom

  2. There's no reason not to print that ad, except that they've got a right to not print it. I think it's silly of them, and they're obviously receiving due flak for it, so hey, the system works. It is silly, because these sort of cultural publications are exactly the right venue for religious discussion. Certainly better than billboards or hanging crosses in public schools.

    (--Dan )