An Open Letter About Why It’s Time to Ditch Open Letters

The idea of “Open Letters” has become all the rage these days. You can find “Open Letters” in newspapers, magazines, or online addressed to politicians, religious leaders, CEO’s, and even to local high school football coaches. I don’t know who wrote the first open letter – and he or she may have had a legitimate issue and wanted to bring it up in a public space. But today, they’re so ubiquitous that in my opinion they’ve


The Origins of the College Student Assault Against Free Speech

I don’t normally write about social issues, but with so much media coverage and hundreds of articles written about the assault on free speech from students at the University of Missouri, Yale, Claremont, and other colleges, I wanted to make a connection. From objections about Halloween costumes, to the right to a “safe place,” to shouting down speakers they don’t agree with, to a hundred other “micro-aggressions,” today’s college students are being called “cry bullies” for wielding their victim status like an axe. Where in the world did this come from? And while 


Should we Boycott, Protest, or Engage Secular Culture?

Karen Covell, Director of the Hollywood Prayer Network had an interesting conversation with an employee of a major ministry regarding their position on boycotting the entertainment industry.  Karen, (like most of us Christians in the entertainment business) prefer to think of boycotts as a completely last resort.  It raises plenty of money for fundraising campaigns, but as a strategy to change the culture, it simply rarely works.

But Karen responded to this ministry with such a clear and direct explanation of her position, I thought it worth posting. With Karen’s permission, here’s her letter:


What Are You Willing to Risk to Inspire Change?

I was in Greensboro, North Carolina recently and visited the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. Located in an old F.W. Woolworth retail store, it’s the original site where in 1960, four African-American college freshman sat down at the store’s “whites only” lunch counter. I was in first grade in nearby Charlotte when it happened. While it wasn’t the first “sit in,” it was remarkable for sparking similar nonviolent protests that spread like wildfire throughout the South. As more and more sit-ins happened, people started boycotting stores with whites-only lunch counters. Sales in those stores dropped by a third, prompting the entire


The American Family Association Versus Gap: Why Boycotts are So Often a Bad Idea

The American Family Association has embarrassed themselves again over another boycott – this one against Gap.  The Mississippi-based ministry last week issued a boycott against Gap Inc. — the retailing giant whose brands include Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic.  They’ve called for a “two-month boycott over the company’s failure to use the word ‘Christmas’ in its advertising to Christmas shoppers.”  As the ministry says,


GLAAD’s Media Strategy is Paying Off for the Gay Community

Regardless where you fall on the gay marriage debate, a look at the media strategy the leadership of that community has used is fascinating.  Anyone who doesn’t believe that strategy works in the media, need look no farther than the massive shift the gay community has made on network television.  Today, the advances in the courthouse haven’t been nearly as successful as the advances in the media.

Years ago the classic daytime drama “All My Children” portrayed popular character Erica Kane (played for 39 years by actress Susan Lucci),  as she joyfully watched her TV daughter marry another woman.  It was a full soap opera / over-the-top lavish ceremony that ended with the brides kissing.  As Megan Basham reported in World Magazine:  “While same-sex weddings on television are hardly new (a lesbian ceremony featured heavily in a Friends episode from 1996, for example), the real-life drama surrounding legal challenges to California’s recently passed constitutional amendment against homosexual marriages has made the milestone all the more significant. By tying the episode to Proposition 8, those associated with All My Children have reaffirmed the perception that the entertainment industry is of a single mind on the issue.”

The GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) strategy has been at work for a long time.  They began lobbying the entertainment industry two decades ago, and the group’s Media Programs Department (yes – they’ve dedicated an entire department to it) has impacted sports, news, and even family programs.  For instance, they convinced the Associated Press news organization to drop the word “homosexual” from their style book in favor of the term “gay.”  They then successfully convinced the four major networks to do the same in their TV program scripts.

They’ve even met with Spanish language network Univision, which resulted in the network agreeing to re-train their staff led by a GLAAD Team that would go affiliate station to affiliate station holding classes.  In 2002 the organization created a 5 year strategy plan focused on “media markets that attract youth.”

Entertainment Director for GLAAD, Scott Seomin, said that they used to “Wait until something bad happened and then get pissed off.”  But he says that “We don’t protest anymore.  Why stand outside the building when with one phone call we can be invited inside.”

The realization that protests and boycotts don’t do much good sounds like a lesson a few faith-based organizations should pay attention to…

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