Last Friday afternoon I witnessed an amazing event on the internet. It all revolved around a badly designed and rather offensive T-Shirt produced by Next. The offending item had a picture of a woman on a sofa just in her underwear with one of those ‘come here’ looks. Above her was the word ‘SINNERS’. Below the picture was a long paragraph defining the meaning of the word ‘sinner’, which included the Message’s version of Romans 7:8. I suppose you could best describe it as tasteless in the way it objectified the woman and promoted casual sex. If you want to, you can look at it here.
Gareth Davies who is the Head of Churches Department for CARE (Christian Action Research and Education) was made aware of that T-Shirt by a distressed supporter that afternoon. He quickly put a blog post together, contacted Next and then, as I witnessed, a social media frenzy erupted. A few hours later Next decided that the T-shirt wasn’t fit to be sold and pulled it.
There is a lot more to the story and I would urge you to read Gareth’s account of what happened. The following day the story was published in the Daily Mail, and for once I’m not embarrassed to link to one of their articles.
It’s a fantastic example of how social media campaigning can be effective. A few Christians got together over something they felt needed addressing and using (on the whole) polite yet persuasive arguments quickly won Next round and got the result they were looking for.
Nobody’s life was saved and our society isn’t looking much different to how it was before, but it reminded Next and hopefully some other companies that listening to your customers’ concerns is a wise move and that they have a social responsibility through the clothes they sell. It also demonstrated on a small scale how powerful the Christian community’s voice can be when we are united.
Now on to some other bits and pieces:
This week the BBC’s head of religion decided that Radio 4’s Thought for the Day slot on its Today programme should not be opened up to atheists. Aquil Ahmed has been under considerable pressure from atheist groups as well as presenters John Humphreys and Evan Davies to open up this Slot to those of no faith.
Many Christians will be pleased that Thought for the Day will not be changing, although David Keen on his blog provides an alternative viewpoint that considers whether God should be confined to such ‘God slots’ in the media.
A couple of weeks ago Tom Holland’s Channel 4 documentary on the foundations of Islam received 1,200 complaints. Stuart James at eChurch has now drawn attention to the news that a planned screening at Channel 4’s headquarters has been cancelled due to security fears along with Holland’s response to the criticism. The documentary is quite cautious in its tone and does not deliberately look to cause offence and yet it clearly has. We’re not in a good place as a society if one of our major broadcasters is afraid to screen a programme that is much less controversial than some of those that have been broadcast examining Christianity and its roots for fear of reprisals.
Monday was World Suicide Prevention Day and the British Government marked it by unveiling a new £1.5m suicide prevention strategy. At the launch Care Services minister, Norman Lamb said that, “One death to suicide is one too many – we want to make suicide prevention everyone’s business”. Well said. However previously he has given his support to assisted suicide. Jennie Pollock on her blog picks to pieces his contradictory thinking and asks whether those two views can be allowed to sit together simultaneously.
The Daily Mail has featured a story of a vicar who had previously spent more than 17 years in and out of jail for drugs, theft and violent offences before finding God in prison. It’s another reminder of just what a life transforming experience it can be when we find Jesus and chose to follow Him.
Krish Kandiah in his latest blog post talks a little about the church’s need to engage with public life effectively including with politics in a way that genuinely seeks the common good. It also includes this video of Christian social commentator Os Guinness bringing a great deal of clarity and wisdom to this subject area and is well worth 12 minutes of your time if you can manage it.
Right that’s plenty to be getting on with for now. Go, explore and see what God says to you.