The other day, I was driving around town and passed a church with an incredibly familiar logo. It wasn’t a denominational church with a standard, identifiable logo (like the UMC cross and flame). But, the logo just seemed familiar. I kept wondering, “where have I seen this before?”
It was the kind of familiarity that my inability to identify my previous interaction with the logo bothered me. So, I did a little investigation to see if maybe the church was associated with another network of churches that shared a logo. Nope, this is an independent congregation. I did a little more investigation to see if maybe the logo was just similar to another church. Nope, I didn’t find any other churches with that logo.
Then, while cruising through the channel guide, it hit me. This church had “borrowed” their logo from a popular cable network. Yes, there is a minor adjustment from the cable network logo. But, even with the minor, it’s all-too-obvious that the logo creator basically stole the logo. Certainly, this is a case of copyright infringement.
This brought back memories of all the terrible Christian t-shirts that are pawned at youth pastor conventions, youth rallies, and Christian bookstores. You might be familiar with some of the t-shirts that attempt to “Christianize” popular brands.
Certainly we can do better than this, right?
Certainly, with our God-given gifts and talents we can come up with something better than ripping off Doctor Who, Subway, Heinz Ketchup, Facebook, Mountain Dew, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and (as much as I hate the establishment) Starbucks, right?
Maybe the creators of these knockoff’s interpret the idea of not conforming to “the patterns of this world” as meaning that one should simply take something that’s popular and use it to promote your particular religious and theological agenda?
Maybe the creators of these knockoff’s believe that their gifts and talents are best used by stealing another person’s ideas and throwing a little Jesus into the mix is better than creating fresh and unique artistic expressions?
Listen, I’ve been part of the problem. I’ve helped create youth group t-shirts that were blatantly illegal! I mean, I had a printer one day tell me, “Listen, I’ll print these shirts for you. But, if anyone asks where you got them, you didn’t get them from me. Got it?”
But, the good Lord convicted me of these horrible transgressions and laid it on my heart to continually remind us that we can and must do better!
Christian companies that produce knock-off items can and must do better.
Churches that produce knock-off logos can and must do better.
Pastors who preach downloaded sermons and tell Jim Gaffigan’s jokes without crediting their source can and must do better.
We can and must do better.