God endorses Moe's Southwest Grill
Remember those "God Speaks" billboards that turned up nationwide from 1999 to 2001? They had messages like "Let's meet at my house Sunday before the game" and "We need to talk," and were supposedly signed by God.

Actually, they were the product of an anonymous donor, the Smith Agency, and the Outdoor Advertising Association of America. And the story didn't end so well: The Smith Agency went under, as (apparently) did its parent company, and the whole "God Speaks" affair became embroiled in a lawsuit when Smith Agency chairman Andrew D. Smith and Charles Robb, and decided to turn the campaign into a book, which quickly went out of print. A research paper presented in August by scholars from Michigan State University's Department of Advertising wonders if the campaign really worked at all.

Apparently someone thought it was memorable. Down in Orlando, a new billboard has popped up. It's still signed by God, but the text is, "Welcome to Moe's," and it's an ad for Moe's Southwest Grill. Only Moe's corporate officials say they never approved the ad, and ordered the local restaurant to take it down.

Local pastor Enric Richard complained to television station WKMG, "You just don't use God's name that way. It should not be taken lightly and casually. It is sacred. There are consequences to doing something like this. Judgment can come on those who use the Lord's name in such a vain fashion."

I sense a trend article coming, or perhaps even a book: Examine the difference between religious advertising and advertising that uses religious imagery. Examine advertising outlets' policies toward the two. Examine the use of God in both. Use Moe's as one case study, the UCC ad (which doesn't mention God) as another. Conclude with a quote from Adbusters editor Kalle Lasn damning all advertising as evil.

More articles

Killing born babies:

  • Police probe baby drugs claims | Police have been called in to investigate claims that a hospital involved in a legal fight over the treatment of a seriously ill baby has been administering drugs to hasten the child's death (PA, U.K.)
  • Dutch consider infant euthanasia | Doctors in the Netherlands are calling for new laws allowing them to end the lives of newborn babies with intolerable and incurable illnesses (BBC)

Euthanasia in Britain:

  • MPs to vote on 'euthanasia law' | MPs have begun debating a bill which critics claim would legalize euthanasia "by the back door" (BBC, video)
  • Labour face revolt over 'euthanasia by stealth' legislation | Ministers were last night trying to reassure Labour MPs that a vote on "right to die" legislation today will not introduce euthanasia by the back door (The Times, London)
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  • Labour in revolt against 'living wills' law | Tony Blair faces a significant revolt in the Commons today over a Bill that many MPs believe will lead to the introduction of euthanasia (The Telegraph, London)
  • 'We are suggesting starving our own relatives' | Claire Curtis-Thomas will vote against plans to enshrine "living wills" in law after seeing how her mother changed her mind about being left to die (The Times, London)

Life ethics:

  • A boy for you, a girl for me: technology allows choice | Embryo screening stirs ethics debate (The Washington Post)
  • NZ euthanasia campaigner freed | Euthanasia campaigner Lesley Martin has been released from prison in New Zealand after serving just half of her 15-month sentence for attempted murder (BBC)


  • Democrats, abortion, and 'Alfie' | Abortion is no longer seen as central to sexual liberation but rather as much more troubling and problematic. But the Democratic Party still marches on as if nothing has changed in almost 40 years (Richard Cohen, The Washington Post)
  • Group sues over conflicting abortion laws | A family planning group is asking a judge to halt what it says is a conflict between a law that requires health care providers to inform women about abortions and a new rule passed by Congress (Associated Press)

Augusto Pinochet on trial:

  • Chilean judge says Pinochet is fit for trial | The Chilean judge also immediately charged the former dictator with nine counts of kidnapping and one of murder (The New York Times)
  • Pinochet arrested on murder charge | The extensive legal case being brought against General Augusto Pinochet looked set to take another step forward yesterday when the judge leading an inquiry into his military rule placed him under house arrest and charged him with killing and kidnapping opponents to his regime (The Guardian, London)


  • Two aid workers killed in troubled Darfur | Both were Sudanese nationals working in the remote region, where Save the Children UK is one of the largest food distributors (Reuters)
  • U.N. suspends aid operations in Sudan | The United Nations has suspended its humanitarian operations in Sudan's troubled South Darfur area following a shooting that killed two aid workers, the agency said Monday (Associated Press)
  • Staff murders stop aid work in south Darfur | Save the Children suspended its operations in south Darfur yesterday after two of its aid workers were killed during a roadside ambush (The Guardian, London)
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Bethlehem & Holy Land:

  • Bethlehem mayor blasts 'oppressive' Israeli occupation | The mayor of Bethlehem blasted the Israeli occupation as an "oppressive siege" which was forcing Christians to leave the traditional birthplace of Jesus Christ in ever increasing numbers (AFP)
  • Third of people don't know Jesus' birthplace | Almost a third of people in the UK do not know Jesus was born in Bethlehem, according to a survey published today (The Evening Standard, London)
  • The complete guide to the biblical lands | The New Testament territories are a fascinating destination for a holiday. David Orkin visits the religious sites of Israel, Jordan and Palestine (The Independent, London)


  • Dear Santa, I want … oh, never mind. I'll buy it myself | For a lot of consumers, especially come December, the line appears to be blurring between giving and receiving (The New York Times)
  • The Christ-less-mas Spirit | Christmas brings with it Europe's attempts to prove its multiculturalist mettle (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal Europe, sub. req'd.)
  • Now repeat after me: 'Ho, ho, ho' | In a country famed for its perfectionist work ethic, Japanese Santa students have a teacher with top credentials: Paradise Yamamoto, the only Japanese with a degree from the International Association of Authorised Santa Clauses based in Greenland (SAPA, South Africa)
  • Think about what we celebrate | At what point does a healthy desire to celebrate contradict core values and cherished principles? (Syl Jones, Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
  • The post-Christian generation | The religious amnesia evident in Australia at Christmas is not only sad, it's dangerous (Muriel Porter, The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Target boycotted for banning bell ringers | National Clergy Council is taking the decision personally (UPI)

Beckham nativity:

  • Oh come, all ye faithless | In a population this size it's inevitable, I suppose, that there's one person, somewhere, who feels so strongly about Christmas, its Christian message and the sanctity thereof that they'd be prepared to smash up a blasphemous image (Zoe Williams, The Guardian)
  • Remember Jesus? He's that baby they all forgot in the Parable of Tussauds | The truth is, we have become inured towards all this cultural hostility directed at Christianity (Michael Gove, The Times, London)

Church & state:

  • God's clock | In America, a religious divide has suddenly emerged as politically decisive, and in the world, religion is a runaway engine of violence (James Carroll, The Boston Globe)
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  • French religious symbols ban cuts two ways | Last week's dispute over chocolates was the first time the law — France's response to what many perceive as a rise in Muslim fundamentalism — has been used to challenge Christian imagery (Associated Press)
  • Free speech v. tax code | Why not tax political speech and leave nonprofit status alone? (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal)
  • Rein in the ACLU | ACLU means Assault Christian Liberties Unmercifully (Phil Kent, The Washington Times)
  • Official says faith-based initiative -- and suits -- to continue | The director of the White House office dealing with faith-based initiatives said President Bush remains committed to supporting government funding of religious social service programs even as the administration fends off lawsuits against its efforts (Religion News Service)

Creation vs. evolution education:

  • ACLU to sue over Pa. evolution debate | The state American Civil Liberties Union plans to file a federal lawsuit Tuesday against a Pennsylvania school district that is requiring students to learn about alternatives to the theory of evolution (Associated Press)
  • Creationism evolves into court fight | Dover parents to sue over 'intelligent-design' mandate (The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pa.)
  • Intelligent design lawsuit coming | The ACLU, representing 11 parents, will announce its suit against the Dover school district at 1 p.m. today (York Daily Record, Pa.)
  • Dover school suit due | Likely first in U.S. on intelligent design (York Dispatch, Pa.)


  • Islamic scholar gives up U.S. post for lack of visa | Tariq Ramadan, who is also well known in France, said he had sent a letter of resignation earlier this week to Notre Dame University in Indiana (Reuters)
  • Required: School prayer | At L.A.'s Washington Prep, it takes faith and hard work to keep college dreams alive -- and street smarts just to make it safely home (Los Angeles Times)


  • Religious leaders talk AIDS prevention | Religious leaders on Monday debated methods to halt the spread of AIDS — a usually taboo subject in the conservative Arab world — but they stopped short of agreeing to recommend the use of contraceptives to prevent the disease (Associated Press)
  • Uganda to run short of condoms | Some 10 million condoms are stuck in warehouses awaiting inspection, as fears about quality prompted Uganda to lengthen approval procedures (BBC)
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  • AP: U.S. officials knew of AIDS drug risks | The government's research on using an AIDS drug to protect African babies was so flawed that health officials had to use blood tests after the fact to confirm patients got the medicine. Ultimately, they had to acknowledge the study broke federal patient protection rules. But the National Institutes of Health never told the White House about problems it found in 2002 with its research on the drug nevirapine before President Bush unveiled a $500 million plan to distribute the medicine across Africa, documents obtained by The Associated Press show (Associated Press)


  • If we wanted to be straight, we would be | Attempts to identify a genetic basis for homosexuality refuse to accept that sexual desire is a social construct (Julie Bindel, The Guardian, London)
  • Evangelists lose ruling in protest at Outfest | A judge refused to throw out the charges. Hearings for 10 of the 11 are scheduled Tuesday (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • King vs. King | Sadly, one of Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughters lent her name to the anti-gay rights movement. Her father never would have (Earl Ofari Hutchinson, Salon.com)
  • Conservatives say they'll move to protect traditional definition of marriage | The federal Conservatives are girding for a same-sex battle with Paul Martin's Liberals, saying they will move to protect the traditional definition of marriage (Canadian Press)

Free speech:

  • Sack Moore, angry Muslims tell Telegraph | The Daily Telegraph columnist Charles Moore was criticized by Muslim organizations yesterday for an article which began by asking if the prophet Muhammad was a pedophile (The Guardian, London)
  • We need protection from the peddlers of religious hatred | Charles Moore was wrong (Iqbal Sacranie, The Telegraph, London)
  • If you want a 'good laugh,' have a go at Christianity | The Serious Organized Crime and Police Bill is aimed at defending the right of minority ethnic faiths not to be abused or ridiculed offensively. But, of course, the chances of Britain's comedians being affected by that are remote. The only religion they poke fun at is Christianity (Gail Walker, The Belfast Telegraph)

Religious freedom:

  • Iraq vows to protect religious freedom and Christian community | Visiting Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari vowed that his country would protect religious freedom, particularly the Iraqi Christian community, during a meeting with Pope John Paul II, a Vatican spokesman said (AFP)
  • We averted fresh religious crisis—President | President Olusegun Obasanjo has said that his administration has again averted another religious crisis which would could have broken out yesterday in one of the states of the federation (This Day, Nigeria)
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  • Area families claim home schooling law erodes religious freedoms | While many longtime home schoolers who observe a religious educational model may follow the state's home schooling regulations, albeit with hesitation, there are a handful of families who have taken up the fight against them (The Daily Local, West Chester, Pa.)
  • Christian churches back patriarch | Two large groups of Christians in Europe and around the globe have voiced support for the Istanbul-based head of the world's Orthodox churches against what they called pressure and attacks on him in Turkey, in a letter released yesterday (Reuters)

Missions & ministry:

  • Giving up lives of comfort for a chance to serve | Volunteers at an East Third Street hospitality house have a stripped-down commitment to living alongside the poor. (The New York Times)
  • People come and pray or learn ballet at church | Dance school isn't related to church activity (Des Moines Register, Ia.)
  • Thou shalt not miss church on vacation | Many tourists find a way to worship, no matter where in the world they might be (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

Da Vinci Code:

  • Cracking the Da Vinci Code | The novel's impact proves we're still fascinated by the story of Jesus -- and by conspiracy theories (Brian Bethune, Macleans, Canada)
  • The Code vs. history | Separating fact from fiction (Brian Bethune, Macleans, Canada)
  • God and those details | The Da Vinci Code is badly written and error-filled -- but we learn things from it (Anthony Wilson-Smith, Macleans, Canada)


  • Group tries to save statehouse nude statue | A group preparing to celebrate the life of a Vermont-born sculptor is petitioning Gov. James Douglas to leave a replica of Hiram Powers' most famous work — which portrays a nude chained woman — on his Statehouse desk (Associated Press)
  • Cathedral as metaphor in Germany | Should Leipzig's late-Gothic university church be rebuilt? (Uwe Siemon-Netto, UPI)


  • Something new under the sun | An ex-cabbie from Cambridge has, after 10 years' work, updated the King James Bible (The Guardian, London)
  • Bishop can read Bible, at last | For more than three decades, Bishop Samuel Monareng has been preaching in Kwa-Thema, near Springs on the East Rand, but has never been able to read the Holy Word (Sunday Times, Johannesburg, South Africa)
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More stories of interest:

  • 'Kranks' on marketing trail blazed by 'Passion' | when major movie companies build their national print campaign for a mainstream farce almost entirely on quotes from Christian- and family-oriented media, something bigger may be afoot. (The New York Times)
  • Church audit plan rankles advocacy groups | Two victim advocacy groups accused Roman Catholic bishops Monday of abandoning their pledge to root out sexually abusive clergy by reducing the number of U.S. dioceses that will receive full, onsite audits of their child protection programs next year (Associated Press)
  • Top lottery winner struggles with fortune | Jack Whittaker split $7 million among three churches, gave away lots more to needy causes, and is now down on his luck (Associated Press)
  • Britons choose variety in matters of faith | Figures in the 2001 census show there are more Spiritualists than Catholics (The Times, London)
  • Report: Death penalty on the decline | The use of the death penalty dropped this year for the fifth year in a row, as questions grow about the guilt of the condemned and more states take a hard look at their use of executions, says a report by a group critical of the punishment. (Associated Press)
  • Parishioners chase man who stole collection | A bandit snatched the collection basket Sunday during the 10 o'clock Mass in St. Gerard's Catholic Church, at Bailey and East Delavan avenues (The Buffalo News, N.Y., via Obscure Store)

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