Tuesday, September 3, 1996

Those Darn Mormon Commercials! - The Nutshell

AFRTS, the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service, was our primary source for news and entertainment while I was in Panama, broadcast's no commercials... well, no commercials for commercial products anyway. What they do show is public service announcements. Among these are the messages from the Church. A young lady that I worked with said that only commercials from "The Church of the Latter Day Saints" are shown. I said that other churches show commercials as well, but she just said, "No they don't."

Anyway, AFRTS shows the messages because of their public message quality. "But why the name of the Church at the end?" she asked. To create awareness. Let's look at some of the commercials... so to speak. The married couple who run out of gas on a country road and go for a friendly walk to a gas station, while in the background you hear a song about being best friends. "Great friends make for great marriages..." That's the public service... especially in these days of high divorce rates and the innumerable number of quickie marriages I've seen since joining the Navy. I guess AFRTS has seen some of those marriages, too. So, they show the message. And at the end... "A message from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints."

"Why?" she asks.

Because it creates awareness. A connection is made between the message and the messenger. The importance of friendship in a marriage... what a novel and practical concept... being friends with your spouse. That's beautiful. "A message from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." This concept is a doctrine from this Church. They teach this as part of their religion.

The boy following a transient along a railroad track and asking him, "If you were my age... where would you go?"

The transient looks the boy in the face and says, "To school."

Message received. The importance of education. A universal concept. Some may feel it so universal that perhaps the US Ad Council is doing enough to "Spread the Word." But then we see the name of the messenger. "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." This concept is a doctrine of this church. They teach the importance of education as part of their religion. The connection is once again made.

I admit... I haven't seen very many commercials from other churches on AFRTS. Oh, sure, the occasional "Be nice to your Mess Cook" and "Don't steal" messages from the Navy Chaplin Corps. I think about what these people must go through trying to fill time on a network that doesn't have commercials. You know they've got a budget that isn't funded by advertising... and as nice as some of their homemade public service announcements can be... okay, mostly their pretty corny, and I think they know it all too well... producing your own non commercial commercials can be pretty expensive... So what do they do? They use previously produced ads from the ad council, other networks and churches... they get somebody else to flip the bill. It makes for both better ads and happier viewers.

Well, it seems that this young woman... and her husband I might add, had this hangup about seeing the commercials from the Church. I think if I'm ever faced with a situation like this again, I'd have to ask, "Is there something you don't like about the messages?" Who can argue against being nice to your neighbor, counseling your children kindly and being friends with your spouse?

"Why does it have to have the Church's name," they might ask.

"Because it shows people that these teachings are part of our religion. I've seen and heard of advertisements for numerous churches. Some say, 'We accept you just the way you are.' others say, 'We're a family church.' Others stress the study of the Bible. Some teach of preparedness while others teach of salvation by simple faith.

"Many of these churches are local organizations. They rarely spread beyond their own congregations... indeed by stressing certain principles, no matter how correct they are, they leave others by the wayside. Alienating themselves as a people... or a flock... and alienating others who don't fit into their scheme of things.

"Within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we find true universality. We don't take a single point or doctrine and harp on it until we turn blue in the face. We look at all the doctrines and we see how they are all necessary to living happy productive lives. If it were to be summed up into a single word, that word wouldn't be trust or prepare. it wouldn't be learn or pray. The word would be universal in nature. The word would lead the way in our understanding of all those issues and doctrines that would help us all in our lives. That word... is Love.

"'The greatest commandment,' Christ said, 'is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, might and mind.' And how do we show our Heavenly Father that we love him? by following all of his commandments. Not just one or two... all of them. And we must do so correctly and with the right intentions. Through such things as faith, learning, prayer, preparedness, strength in ourselves and in our families."