At the end of each year, this column has given the “coveted” Bad Burrito Awards for religious marketing efforts and products. 2014 marks the 10th year of acknowledging those labors best described as head-scratching – much like the middle-of-the-night dreams and great ideas, possibly inspired by indigestion (hence the name), that make little sense in the light of day.
Without delay, here are this year’s winners:
Fashion. Did you know that December 12 is Ugly Sweater Day? British Christmas Jumpers (britishchristmasjumpers.com) has designed a unisex multicultural sweater that combines world religions - even atoms and peace symbols for atheists – into a truly memorable and burrito-winning fashion statement.
Accessories. Once upon a time, the Advent calendar was a time to share Scripture and contemplation at the approach of Jesus’ birth. Madison Avenue has adapted the calendar for daily doses of candles, chocolates, beer, Legos, lingerie or nail polish. (Examples at religionnews.com/2014/11/28/12-of-the-internets-most-beautiful-bizarre-advent-calendars.) For those that have hijacked the tradition in poor taste, have a burrito.
Celebrations. On the other hand, believers may decide to redeem things they do not like with Christian-themed efforts. Take Halloween, for instance. Canadian pastor Paul Ade wanted to more positive spin on the holiday for Christians with Jesus Ween (jesusween.com), for people to respond to “trick or treat” with “Jesus loves you” and to drop a Bible along with candy in the Halloween bags. Maybe a burrito would be nice, too.
Entertainment. In Buenos Aires, Argentina, is the Tierra Santa theme park. Religious in nature, it features a 40-foot Jesus that rises from within a mountain and resurrected each hour. Slate magazine describes “a disco-lit Virgin Mary” and scenes, such as Jesus being scourged that visitors are encouraged to pose with for photos.
Good intentions. Chinese millionaire Chen Guangbiao promoted a meal for 1,000 homeless as part of his Tour of Love and Gratitude luncheon, along with $300 each. But the Rescue Mission he worked with would not allow cash to be paid to the guests for fear of how the money would be spent. So, they ate a nice meal and then were told they would receive no money. Both the host and the Mission should share a burrito.
Churches. Each of these is worthy of a burrito this year:
- For Pastor Zach Zehnder of theCross Church in Mount Dora, Fla., who broke the record for longest sermon after preaching more than 53 hours. (The feat was interesting, but was the sermon?)
- The Kentucky Baptist Convention‘s “Second Amendment Celebration” gun giveaways as door prizes around the state. This wins out over this past year’s stories of Protestant churches around the country offering beer as a draw to worship, sing traditional hymns and discuss Bonhoeffer, Kentucky’s represents a potentially lethal outreach plan.
- Westwood Baptist Church of Keithville, La., that kicked an Alcoholic Anonymous group out of its facilities after five years because of the fear that allowing outside groups to meet could force them to conduct homosexual marriages in the future.
- Leave your coat on at Trinity Memorial Lutheran Church in Merrillville, Ind., offering 30-minute informal Sunday evening services.
- The church branding firm Lux Dei Design, who suggested raising $1 million to put a McDonald’s franchise in church (mcmass.com) in order to “revitalize churches as centers for conversation and cultural engagement.”
Remember that good ideas and creativity can ultimately be a blessing to others – along with a healthy dose of good sense.
Ken Satterfield is Word & Way’s advertising and marketing coordinator. He welcomes your product suggestions. By the way, inclusion in this article does not constitute an endorsement.
Other Bad Burrito columns: