vintage_television.jpg The email arrived in my inbox today, taunting me. “Removal of Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Charles Stanley, David Jeremiah and other pastors from the airwaves,” it proclaimed. “Really?” I thought. The email provided all the details:

An organization has been granted a Federal Hearing on the same subject by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in Washington, D.C. Their petition, Number 2493, would ultimately pave the way to stop the reading of the gospel of our Lord and Savior, on the airwaves of America. They got 287,000 signatures to back their stand! If this attempt is successful, all Sunday worship services being broadcast on the radio or by television will be stopped.

I thought about that for a moment. Joel Osteen off the air? You know, that might be a pretty good thing. The email evidently assumed I’d be appalled and want to take action against this petition so I could help keep Joel on the air. The answer? A counter-petition.

We are praying for at least 1 million signatures. This would defeat their effort and show that there are many Christians alive, well and concerned about our country. As Christians, we must unite on this. Please don’t take this lightly. We ignored one lady once and lost prayer in our schools and in offices across the nation. Please stand up for your religious freedom and let your voice be heard. Together we can make a difference in our country while creating an opportunity for the lost to know the Lord.

Instructions followed, directing me to “sign” (by which they mean type) my name at the bottom and forward it on. When it reaches 1,000 names, there’s a special address to forward it to, but the message only had 538 names as I received it. If I decide not to participate, I’m to send it back to the person who sent it to me so they can keep it going. “Dr. Dobson is going on CNBC to urge every Christian to get involved,” it continued. “I hope you will sign and forward to all your family and friends. …Please defeat this organization and keep the right of our freedom of religion.” The email warns that the same group is campaigning to remove Christmas programs and carols from public schools.

Unfortunately, the message failed to provide details on how to sign the other petition.

Now, this may be a shock to  some  none of you, but I tend to be a little cynical now and then. No, no, it’s true. Really. I rolled this around my brain for a few minutes, and I decided I honestly couldn’t tell if this would be a good thing or a bad one — but I’m leaning toward it being a good thing. Televangelists aren’t known for being the best representatives of the Kingdom of God, at least in my view. Or in anyone pretty much anyone else’s, as far as I can tell. Maybe all the money that goes into the televangelivortex could be diverted to something actually useful. Just to be sure, I tried to think of a positive example of a televangelist, and, well…. if you come up with any, let me know.

Of course I won’t be signing either petition… it’s a hoax, which the FCC formally denies, as though they didn’t know that there were still Christians living in America. As for “well and concerned,” I wonder if “misguided and gullible” might not be a fit. Although the version I received doesn’t mention her, others floating around make reference to Madalyn Murray O’Hair as the person behind it — despite her disappearance in 1995 and having been confirmed dead in 2001. Not only that, the intent of P.M. 2493 was simply to ensure channels reserved for educational purposes ended up being used for education and not by religious groups seeking to use them for other purposes. The petition was presented in December 1974 and defeated in August 1975, which means that in some form or other, Christians have been fighting a non-battle about a non-issue for about the same length of time that Christ is presumed to have walked the earth. I don’t want to even begin to interpret that… cynic that I am.

Still, maybe it is time for an all-out ban on religious programming… that way the other religions who broadcast better content at a lower cost with greater sincerity wouldn’t look as good by comparison. Or maybe I’m just being cynical again.

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