Archive for Saturday, February 26, 2011

Faith Forum: Does the saying, ‘There is no such thing as bad publicity’ ring true for religion?

February 26, 2011


The Rev. Gary Teske, pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church, 1245 N.H.:

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, better known as Mahatma Gandhi, the non-violent leader of the independence movement in India is quoted as saying, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

To me, this demonstrates that there is indeed such a thing as “bad publicity.”

For me as a Christian, it is any publicity that leads people to conclude that I am “so unlike Christ.” When news breaks that someone, especially a Christian leader, has abused his or her power over others and taken advantage of someone sexually or otherwise, that is not good publicity for it leads people to conclude that we are “so unlike our Christ.”

When individuals or groups who bear the name Christian spout venom and hatred toward people of different ethnicities, religions, political persuasions or sexual orientation in the name of Christ, that is bad publicity because it paints a picture of Christians as “so unlike our Christ” who ate with tax collectors and sinners, who loved and welcomed Samaritans, lepers, and all manner of hated and despised peoples of his day.

I am speaking from a Christian perspective but I suspect that the same can be said for many other religions that share a view of God as one who truly desires that we love one another and not fear one another. That we bless one another and not curse one another; that we show unbounded hospitality and not exclusivity. That we work for reconciliation and not rejection and annihilation of neighbors or even enemies.

It is bad publicity when we live in other ways, in ways that do great damage to one another, when we are so unlike the God of grace and compassion who we worship and confess. When that kind of living hits the news, than indeed we have to live with the negative publicity of being seen to be “so unlike our God.”

— Send e-mail to Gary Teske at

Rabbi Zalman Tiechtel, Chabad Jewish Center, 1203 W. 19th St.:

One doesn’t have to be cynical to ascribe to the adage that there is no bad publicity. From a religious perspective, not only is there no bad publicity, there is nothing bad at all.

The Jewish belief is that everything comes from God. Since God is good, everything that happens according to his will and directive is good. Sometimes it takes a different perspective or time horizon to see the good, but, the good exists.

One of my favorite Jewish thoughts is that the very absolute assurance and conviction that everything is for the good; this itself actually becomes the conduit and vessel which draws down the greatest blessings. So, a positive outlook and way of thinking is not just a technique to weather negative occurrences, but it actually makes good things happen.

I can’t tell you that I fully understand how this works. But this indomitable optimism has been around for so long, and has been refuted so many times only to survive and blossom, that no personal testimony can possibly add to or detract from it.

Think positive, it works. If you do, it will.

— Send e-mail to Zalman Tiechtel at


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