For nonbelievers, the Bible functions as a lifeline to direct them to salvation through Christ. Christians often view this sacred book as a roadmap that guides them safely through life’s perilous twists and turns. Sadly, for some, the mere depiction of a Bible elicits feelings of hatred and bias.
Recently, when billboards showing Greg Laurie, author and senior pastor of Harvest Ministries, holding a Bible went up in a popular outdoor mall in Southern California, numerous people complained that the signs were offensive. As a result, the billboards advertising the upcoming SoCal Harvest Event, scheduled for August 17-19, 2018 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, were removed.
Harvest Ministries has hosted the wildly successful SoCal Harvest gathering for the past 29 years. Referring to the exciting event, the Executive Director for Harvest America, John Collins, informed CBN News, “We meet in Anaheim Stadium. We have somewhere around 100,000 people that will come out over the course of the weekend and Pastor Greg Laurie will give a very simple gospel message and we’ll see eight or nine, sometimes 10,000 people make a profession of faith in Christ.”
Collins added, “So, leading into that we take out ads with billboards. We put bumper stickers on thousands of cars that people lend us their bumpers. And we have ads in bus shelters and wherever we can. And this year we decided to take out some ads in one of the cultural centers of Orange County, Fashion Island, and take out ads to put big banners in the mall where a lot of people congregate.”
When disgruntled members of the public complained about the billboards, the Irvine Company, the business contracted to market the event, allegedly ordered the evangelical outreach to modify the signs. Then, they decided to remove them entirely.
“Apparently people saw that and took offense to that, assuming it was a Bible. And they asked us if we would change the ad, so we wanted to comply and so we submitted something that just simply said Harvest and had some of the musical artists that are going to be with us on the poster or on the banner and submitted that,” Collins said. “But then we were told that they decided they didn’t want to have any of the banners up in the mall and we were asked to take them down.”
Collins viewed the action as an indicator of America’s increasing intolerance towards God and Christianity. He remarked, “It’s unfortunate that they’re getting pushback from a few. I think there are just a few intolerant folks that are really thwarting the opportunity of thousands of Christians that want to come and demonstrate their faith.” Talking about the past successes of the SoCal Harvest event, Collins stated, “In these 29 years, we’ve seen marriages restored. We’ve seen families reunited. We’ve seen people come off of drugs. We’ve seen people come who were suicidal and be able to receive help. We’ve seen thousands upon thousands, about half a million people have made professions of faith in Christ. And they’ve found peace with God.” He also noted, “And so, it’s just mystifying to us that we couldn’t advertise that. What’s wrong with that?”
While the billboards announcing the SoCal Harvest event were forced to be removed, numerous signs offensive to Christians, parents, and others ostentatiously litter the sides of interstates and highways across the country. Earlier this year, the company Roman Equipment put up a billboard of a naked women in Brooklyn, Ohio. In January of 2018, Ohio abortion provider Preterm made headlines with the launch of its “Abortion Positive” billboard campaign. Preterm signs depicted abortion as an act to be affirmed and celebrated.
Each advertisement began with “Abortion is” followed by different words and phrases. For instance, some of the billboards put up said, “Abortion is a family value,” “Abortion is a blessing,” “Abortion is hope,” “Abortion is necessary,” “Abortion is normal,” “Abortion is a second chance,” and “Abortion is right for me.” At the time, Preterm’s Nancy Starner stated, “We want to push people to think about abortion in new, diverse ways with these billboards.”
~ 1776 Christian