For more than a decade, an annual column here has recognized truly questionable attempts at marketing and promoting religion, probably due to indigestion-fueled middle-of-the-night inspiration. Thus, the Bad Burrito Awards were born. Good Burritos, are a more recent addition to salute other religion-related oddities.
We begin with an Honorary Burrito for the Biola University art students. They captured the Burrito spirit with their pop-up “Museum of Precious Moments,” celebrating the kitschy experiences of growing up in the church. Though the exhibit has closed, pictures and an audio tour are still available.
Bad Burritos go out to:
- Grace Baptist Church in Troy, New York: This independent church, held a raffle for a modified AR-15 assault rifle. In a community facing increased gun violence. During the pandemic.
- “God fearing” undefeated British boxer Billy Joe Saunders: He posted a video to teach men how to hit their partners who bother them as a joke and was fined by the World Boxing Organization. (Female boxer Claressa Shields posted a pretty direct response.)
- Christian comedian John Crist: He returned to social media this year after sexual conduct issues reported by Charisma. As a producer of videos poking fun at the church hypocrisy, he confessed to being the biggest hypocrite.
- Brazilian fashion brand Jon Cotre: They discovered that selling shorts featuring a Hindu deity was not well received by the world’s third largest religion.
There are a lot of self-served Burritos this year, as pointed out by Atlanta pastor Andy Stanley’s profile in The Atlantic, “The Evangelical Reckoning Begins.” (His frankness earns a Good Burrito.) In a contentious election, many of us did not display those better angels described by Abraham Lincoln.
Perhaps the most lingering image from this year was President Trump holding up a Bible (not upside-down as has been reported) in front of a church after protestors had been removed and saying … nothing. Despite your views of the event, sometimes nothing is best. It takes satire by The Babylon Bee to remind us that we do not lead others to Christ by calling them names online.
We also need to ponder our place at the Bad Burrito Buffet for those churches and church leaders who did not carefully consider their decision to take or reject a CARES Act loan; who pushed to gather for in-person worship or thwart local mandates at the expense of lasting moral leadership; and who oppose abortion without considering the coming vaccines developed from cell lines from elected abortions..
There are Good Burritos to be rewarded, too:
- First Baptist Church in America’s sign, “Had not planned on giving up quite this much for Lent.”
- Redeemer Presbyterian Church’s use of scripture to promote social distancing in New Orleans.
- The Thai monk who was caught on video trying to concentrate on his five-hour New Year prayers, despite a persistent affection-seeking feline. (The cat won.)
- The Michigan priest social distancing by using a squirt gun to dispense holy water on parishioners
- Basketball-playing nuns from Sevilla, Spain, who brought their game to a basketball-deprived world in April
- Comedian Frank Caliendo, who added impressions of TNT basketball analysts calling that same game.
This year has been marked by technology-caused mishaps as more worship went virtual, parodied well by a Saturday Night Live skit about Zoom Church. We conclude this year’s festivities by awarding several Oops Burritos to faith leaders featured in Christianity Today that shared their screen with pets, fought trees, and caught themselves on file while leading worship. But perhaps the most amusing video is the Italian priest who livestreamed Mass and accidentally turned on the cartoon filters.
Until next year, let’s all continue to consider how we communicate.
Ken Satterfield has more than three decades of media and marketing experience for Baptists and is currently a freelancer in Jefferson City, Missouri.
Past Bad Burrito columns: