No, this is not some kind of early April Fool's joke. I am aware of the approaching date, but this post was prompted by an advertisement from a local church I received in the mail to promote their Easter services. I am becoming increasingly fascinated with church marketing strategies because, like other varieties of marketing, I think they can often reflect interesting things about the product or service being sold.
The ad that showed up in my mailbox before Easter was from one of the few churches in my town that can rightfully be called a mega-church. It is so huge that they refer to the two locations as campuses! I am fairly confident that this particular one is the largest in town by a wide margin, so I was somewhat surprised to get the ad.
But what I'd really like to address here is the contents of the ad. Here is their pitch, nutty capitalization and all:
Sometimes the "busy-ness" of everyday living tends to blur our vision of what's important. Because we're pressed for time we settle into mundane, black-and-white existence. This Easter discover a fuller life - in living color. Join us at Temple Baptist Church for a morning of music and celebration and let the risen Savior color your life with joy, peace and hope that comes from knowing Him!In reading the first two sentences again, I have to say, "How true!" People can indeed find themselves in a rut and end up enduring the stress of daily life rather than actually living. Routines can be comfortable escapes, and it is all too easy to retreat into the familiar. I can certainly relate to this, as it is something I bounce in and out of periodically.
The problem is that they offer no meaningful solutions once they have connected with me through the first two sentences. The third sentence is a reasonably effective teaser in that it hints at a solution to the mundane existence previously referenced. And then the whole approach crashes and burns by assuming that going to their church will help. I find church far worse than a mere waste of time because it reinforces superstition and ignorance. Joining them on Easter would be a waste of my day.
And what of this "Savior?" Is this the individual who may never have lived but who - even if he did live - has been dead for over 2,000 years? I'm fairly confident that whatever might be left of him now isn't going to be much use to me. I suppose I might derive some sort of positive feelings from "knowing" him in the sense that a history buff might gain pleasure from studying an ancient civilization, but that is the extent of it. Even if I'd concede to call this "joy," it would be a far cry from "peace" or "hope."
No, this ad is nothing more than an invitation to delusion. Believe in Jesus because you'll feel better if you do. Never mind that you'll have to suspend rational thought to do so. Don't think about how you'll eventually be asked to hate "teh gay," demand subservience from your women, or strive for the eradication of reproductive freedom (this is a Southern Baptist church in Mississippi, after all). It is the real world that causes your rut. Embrace delusion and it will set you free! No thanks.
An earlier version of this post appeared on Atheist Revolution in 2008. It was revised in 2018.