By Jack Gibbert
There are times when I begin to wonder if the “conservative” movement is not beginning to drift. I recognize this “drifting” as inevitable (1 Cor. 11:19), but I become a bit sick to my stomach when I think that such is happening so close on the heels of the last great digression. Have brethren, especially those who were involved up to their eyeballs in the battle, not learned anything from their experiences? Brother Cogdill has sounded the warning in a recent article (Truth Magazine September 11, 1975) about the language of Ashdod creeping among us. I have noticed it appearing again and again, in articles written by “knowledgeable” brethren, and even in sermons and “off the record” discussions. I am not pushing any panic-button over some babe in Christ who doesn’t know better than to talk about “joining the church” and “Christian” nations, schools and institutions. I am referring to “old hands” in the grandest profession of all, i.e., practicing Christianity.
In December of this past year, one conservative church published in it’s bulletin a story billed, “Madeline M. O’Hair Is At It Again!” On the back of this bulletin they announced that, “Atheist M. O’Hare Petitions F.C.C. To Ban All Religious Broadcasting.” The article stated that Mrs. O’Hare “has presented a petition to the Federal Communications Commission with 27,000 signed letters. Christian radio and television is being threatened by Petition No. RM 2493 . . . this petition is an effort to make religious programming on radio and television illegal in the United States. If this petition becomes law, people will no longer have the privilege of choosing whether or not to hear religious programs. The basic issue is not whether or not the people should be forced to listen to the Gospel but whether or not they have the option and privilege to do so. . . .” The article went on to ask that everyone send in a letter of protest to this petition.
As soon as I read this I had a “gut” reaction that said, “this is just like that phoney Pentecostal stunt about the computer finding some lost time in the past.” For those who don’t remember it, there was an article circulating a few years ago about a man named Hill (I remember the name because it was the same as the “Flim Flam man” in the movie “The Music Man”) who supposedly put the question to a computer at the space laboratories and it came up with the fact there was time missing, supposedly relating to the Bible accounts of the sun standing still. This was proven to be a hoax, perpetrated by a man “led by the Holy Spirit.”
Now, why this “gut” reaction? (1) Mrs. O’Hair, like her or not, is not stupid, and such a petition would be stupid. (2) The use of “Christian radio and television” is so loose that even the liberals would not use it, I assumed that it’s roots were in Pentecostalism as they use it all the time.
I immediately wrote a short note in our bulletin to the effect that I was sure this was another case of my brethren jumping on a Pentecostal bandwagon and that faithful brethren should keep clear of the unclean thing.
A few weeks later I received another bulletin with the same article in it, this one was copied from the first one and gave credit to the first bulletin for it. Now I was really upset. Apparently this thing will have gone all over the country by the time this article sees print, but I know of no other way to stop this kind of thing other than to expose my brethren’s blind duplicity to hysterical Pentecostal lies.
I called my congressman and asked if he could get me information on Petition RM No. 2493 and he informed me that he could and would mail it to me within the week. I now have that information from the F.C.C. in their publication “FCC 75-946, 36588.” It’s 13 pages long and I will not bother to reprint it. I will however quote a few facts and make a comment or two.
First off, this legal opinion and order was adopted, 1 Aug. 1975 and released, 13 Aug. 1975. In other words, the action on this petition had been taken over 4 months before my brethren jumped on the band-wagon. As usual, when we support Pentecostal causes, we are a day late and a dollar short, and for that I thank God. Now as to what we are informed in this F.C.C. release.
This petition dealt with the “standards applicable to the licensing and operation of educational stations or reserved FM or television channels.” It in no way dealt with the right to have religious programs on radio or TV.
Next we are informed, “The filing of the petition has generated a vast amount of letters to the Commission, likely in excess of 700,000 . . . the majority of these letters are not directed to a resolution of the issues raised by the petition, as most are based on an incorrect understanding of the nature of the relief petitioners seek. Many of them are form letters that are premised on the mistaken view that the petition was filed by Madalyn Murray O’Hair, when such was not the case. In addition, the vast majority of letters urge us to reject what they understand to be the proposal to ban the broadcast of all religious programs (including church services) from the air. However, no such proposal was advanced by the petitioners, nor was it raised by the commission.”
Section 3 of the release informs us that “Although the religious aspect of the petition has garnered virtually all of the attention . . . in fact, much of the petition involves separate questions not involving religiously affiliated licensees.”
Now I will not go any further than to say that as the release explains what was asked for in the petition, I find myself more “FER IT” then “AGAIN IT.” I have in front of me at this moment an article from the Virginia Beach Sun (Jan. 7, 1976) that tells of the vast $2.95 million site that has been acquired by the “CBN” (Christian Broadcasting Network) that will run somewhere around $20 million for the headquarters they are planning to build here in Virginia Beach. All of this, we are informed, will be “tax-exempt.” This network is what we would call “holy roller” in its theological outlook and that is the kind of religious programing you will hear on it brethren, you will not hear the gospel on it. Petition No. RM-2493 was opposed to the “one sidedness” of sectarian owned stations. Not to their owning such a station, but to their refusal to grant other views an airing. And that, good brethren, is what you wrote in opposing when you wrote in opposition to RM 2493. You were actually fighting for the right of “holy roller” stations to refuse to sell time to faithful churches of Christ to preach opposing views to Pentecostalism.
Know what? I can understand to some degree why the “rank and file” of the Lord’s church may have written letters of protest . . . after all, didn’t their preacher say they should, didn’t he call them to arms? But what I do not understand is how knowledgeable preachers can be so easily sucked into a Pentecostal scheme, based on a lie (and incidentally, those who printed this lie really owe Mrs. O’Hair an apology) and even be so blind as to print their lie as they wrote it, not ,even taking the time to re-write it is acceptable Bible terms . . . or is the term “Christian radio and television” something faithful preachers are now using?
Brethren, our Lord said, “If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matt. 15:14). There are some blind leaders among us who need to open their eyes before they and their followers wind up in the ditch. Telling lies about an atheist is surely heading for the ditch (Rev. 21:8) and needs repenting of … and I believe an apology to Mrs. O’Hair, I hope those who misrepresented her will be humble enough to do it. I am sure those who started the lie and used her name and cause to further their own cause will apologize, but I hope that brethren who helped to further the lie will show Mrs. O’Hair and other atheists that while sectarians do not mind lying to further their cause, Christians do and refuse to take part in such low tactics.
Brethren to keep from eating this type of crow, let us stick with preaching the gospel. Let us keep out of politics, especially is this true with this being an election year, we simply have no business being unequally yoked with the world of politics or the problems of Pentecostalism’s “Christian radio and television.” Let us trust the Lord, preach the word, and leave the lying to worldly sectarianism where it belongs.
Truth Magazine, XX:14, p. 10-11
April 1, 1976