Christian Radio Station Asks for Money in a Dirty Way

99point1FMad

A friend of mine from college who lives in New Jersey saw this on her parents’ kitchen table a couple of weeks ago and sent this picture my way. She says it’s a post card advertisement for Star 99.1 FM, a Christian radio station in New Jersey. I really don’t have a problem with this radio station existing, or with them asking for donations from their listeners. I do, however, have a serious issue with what they’re implying through their word choice in this ad. It says:

“I was without a job for over a year and that was a very difficult time for our family of 4.

We really didn’t have extra to give, but God was tugging at our hearts to support Star 99.1 . Just two weeks later I found the job of my dreams.

God is good, faithful, and He keeps His promises. Thank you Star 99.1 for doing His work and for being His voice, hands and feet in the community.”

-Ivan

Look familiar? It reminds me an awful lot of something John Oliver talked about in his video on televangelists and their tendency to go after desperate people for monetary gain. Here’s that video in case you’re curious.

This is really despicable. I’m currently doing mundane temp work to make ends meet (in other words, not default on my student loans) and someone else in my position or a worse one might read this and think, well, I’m struggling financially but how about I make that worse by donating money! Clearly donating to the right place will get me the job I need.

I mentioned this to my mother, who’s a devout Catholic and a fan of our local Christian radio station, and even she thought this was making an inappropriate suggestion. Donating to a Christian radio station is NOT the same as looking for a job. It’s not the same as filling out applications and networking and revamping your resume and writing cover letters galore. I sincerely hope that no one, upon seeing this ad, thought “Well, I’ll have to skip dinner a few times but maybe God will fix my financial woes if I donate money!”

I know that’s not what the station means for its mail recipients to get from this ad. I also realize that the person making the statement in the ad about finding his dream job is supposed to be a listener, not a representative of the radio station. However, I’m also positive that someone who works for the station still had to look at the ad and approve it. Someone affiliated with them saw this and thought, “Yep. In today’s job market and economy, this is an appropriate way to ask for money.” That’s not OK.

If this had been an organization that wasn’t religious, I don’t think anyone would just stand by and consider this normal. But for too many people, this makes total sense. Of course God is waiting for you to donate to His radio station before giving you that dream job you’re looking for!

Have any of you seen similar examples of religious organizations appealing to desperate people for monetary gain? Feel free to leave a comment. All opinions are welcome. Just be respectful and think things through before posting.

Happy thinking!

Nancy

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I’m Not Praying for Paris: Looking for Ways to Help

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The western world is pretty shaken up by what happened a few days ago in Paris, and the response on social media and worldwide has been huge. YouTube changed the red block behind “Tube” to a French flag. Various landmarks around the world have been decorated with blue white and red lights. People are putting the French flag over their profile pictures on Facebook, and sharing memes that say “Pray for Paris.” I’m sure you’ve seen them.

This is comforting for some people, but it all strikes me as a way to make ourselves, as outsiders in this situation, feel better. It may feel comforting to you, but I don’t know that it’s really helping the situation. As an atheist, I’m pretty sure the world can do better than just pray. So what can we do?

  1. Skip posting about this on social media in a way that is primarily self serving. It’s OK to say your thoughts are with France, but don’t go on about your feelings. This is not about you. I realize most of social media is, but tragedy isn’t.
  2. Read the news. Stay informed. Call out people who want to banish all Muslims from the country or imprison all the Syrian refugees. (Sadly, I’ve heard such suggestions from members of my family.) These sorts of tactics have been tried in various countries throughout the world (think of Japanese internment during WWII in the US for instance) and they’re a very bad idea that will only further marginalize people who are part of this minority religion in that country, and  as we’ve seen over and over again in this conflict, oppression will lead to more recruitment for ISIS and other extremist groups. There has to be a way to prevent these attacks that doesn’t involve oppressing minorities or religious discrimination.
  3. If you’re in the area, see if you can donate blood, or volunteer your time with an organization that’s helping. If you’re not–say you’re in the US or some other country, donate your money to the Red Cross or other groups that are mobilizing to help victims. This article lists some options, but always do your research before choosing a charity organization to give your money to.

Last but not least, acknowledge that there have been many more lives taken in terrorist action in the Middle East, and if you’re going to try to do something tangible for France, you should at least consider doing something similar for the people in the Middle East too. The western media, at least in the US in my experience, has a tendency to prioritize western problems over those in other continents, and I get it. We as a people have a tendency to worry more about the people we identify with. We might not be able to magically change the fact that we feel emotionally for people in Paris but not Syria, but we can at least direct our thoughts to the Middle East and stop skipping over news stories involving that region. It does start to feel like more of the same after a while, but we need to acknowledge the privilege we have in the west that for us, events like 9/11 and the one in Paris are not an everyday occurrence. There’s a reason people are fleeing Syria in droves, and maybe we should give two bothers to maybe learn what their flag (flags at the moment, actually) and the flags of other nations with this issue, like Pakistan, Iraq, and so forth, look like.

I realize this is a very emotional time for many people, and I hope I haven’t offended anyone with this post; I don’t mean to downplay what happened in Paris. It is a real tragedy and we should do what we can to help, but I really do think that we need to also stop ignoring areas that have been facing terrorist attacks on a regular basis just because they’re mostly populated with groups to which we in the west have trouble relating.

Feel free to leave a comment, especially if you have any further advice on how to offer help to Paris and other nations currently suffering from terrorist threats and attacks.

Happy thinking

Nancy

Republican Fear Mongering: What They Thought after the ’08 Election

This may be very, very old news to those of you who have been liberal for years, but I was raised by conservative parents in a deeply religious environment, so seeing this from the other side is still new to me sometimes. I was cleaning out my closet the other day, and I happen to keep my old diaries in there. One in particular, from back when I was in high school, gives a response to the 2008 election, when President Obama was first voted into office. It came at a point in my life when anything I said was basically a repeated opinion belonging to someone else. I hadn’t yet started to formulate my own opinions. Here’s what it says:

An old diary entry from 2008. It's very disturbing to remember the crazy things I used to think about the president.

An old diary entry from 2008. It’s very disturbing to remember the crazy things I used to think about the president.

11/4/08

Dear Diary,

It’s official. I heard the announcement on the radio: Obama was just elected president. I’m afraid. Mom says he’s just like Hitler, lots of Charisma, [why the capital letter, 2008 me?] terrible ideas. He’s going to remove all restrictions on abortion, then he’s going to start a 3rd hollocost [sic] (abortion being the 2nd). He’s going to chase down every white man and woman and child in the country and he’s going to kill us!

I don’t want to die! I want to grow up and write stories and go to college and get married and raise a family!

I want to marry the guy of my dreams! Have my fairy tale ending! Please don’t take that away from me!!!

Thank you for reading.

As tempting as it is to spend this entire post making fun of myself for starting a journal entry with “Dear Diary,” here’s why I think this find from my past is worthy of a post here: I genuinely believed these things because the adults in my life–the people who were supposed to instill some basic moral values and people skills in me–were saying them.

These opinions, in varying degrees of panic, were brought up at the dinner table, whenever my family watched or read the news, whenever I attended my Catholic homeschooling co op or other activities run by homeschoolers. This was my reality. These opinions were everywhere, and I rarely, if ever, heard anyone disagree with them. I was living in a conservative echo chamber, and with any echo chamber, it’s easy to see how one idea–in this case, the notion that a particular candidate is the worst possible candidate ever and shouldn’t be elected, can get blown out of proportion; it’s like a game of telephone.

Remember that game, where you sit in a line or a circle, and one kid says a phrase or a sentence, and passes it on to the next kid, who then passes it on to the next one? Somewhere down the line, it nearly always got changed, often because someone did it deliberately to be funny, but sometimes simply because someone misheard the message as it went down. All it takes is one exaggeration or other slight change in each retelling for a story or an idea to morph into something completely different. A brown bear becomes a mythical monster. A man becomes a god. A run-of-the-mill establishment politician running for president as a democrat becomes a black Hitler. Never mind the fact that historically, the comparison itself is ridiculous and in bad taste. Never mind that having concern for the way minorities are being treated is not the same as hating the majority group.

I will admit I had a tendency to be over dramatic in my diary entries, which were often the oh-my-god-that-cute-guy-looked-at-me nonsense that’s typical for someone in the grasp of adolescent hormones. But I tried not to lie. It’s very possible that these were just the absolute worst things that I heard, and I skipped over the more rational ones. But it’s the terrible things that stick in your head, isn’t it? Especially when you’re young. I got an education and thought my way out of that nonsense, but what about the kids who didn’t?

I don’t know where those rumors originated because of how oblivious I was to actual politics at the time. Did a conservative talk show host bring them up? Were they spreading through conservative news organizations? Were they simply the terrified whisperings of racist middle aged republicans? I don’t know. One thing I do know, though, is that the conservative echo chamber leads to fearmongering. It lead to panic about a “black supremacist” president, who in two terms has clearly not done anything to indicate such a mindset.

This is what some Republicans thought at the time. Surely not all, but some.

Having switched sides, I hope that I’m not living in a democratic, left-wing echo chamber now. I hope I’m evaluating my fears about a President Donald Trump or Ben Carson or Ted Cruz adequately. I believe that I understand that the worst that’s likely to happen with any of them is bad policy decisions, not world war III. We need to be aware of this human tendency to imagine the worst, and not turn these candidates into caricatures. They’re doing a good enough job of that by themselves already.

Do any of you have memories of the ’08 election and what the two sides were saying about each other? Were the campaigns then anything like the ones we’re seeing today? Feel free to leave a comment. All opinions are welcome. Just be respectful and think things through before posting.

Happy thinking!

Nancy