A trilogy of Christian false witness (Updated)

A trilogy of Christian false witness (Updated)

December 15, 2008 @

UPDATE: Evangelicalism has reared its irrational bent again with the push to boycott Starbucks because of the coffee company’s support for same-sex marriage. Again, a noble, pietistic movement, but lacking in sense. Instead of boycotts, Russell Moore says, “We don’t persuade our neighbors by mimicking their angry power-protests. We persuade them by holding fast to the gospel, by explaining our increasingly odd view of marriage, and by serving the world and our neighbors around us.”

Arguing against Moore, Buster Wilson says, “Boycotts give me power to use my money in ways that benefit what I most believe in. It helps me not support others who fight for what I don’t believe in.” But Christian boycotts never work, and makes no sense. Clearly, Christians who do not support the gay movement and same-sex marriage are an ever-shrinking minority, and of course Starbucks will not be affected in any way by a minute drop in profits because of a Christian boycott.

To be sure, I’m not a fan of “Fourbucks,” which charges an arm and a leg for a cup of coffee, while you can buy a pound of good coffee grounds for the same price.

And to be able to not support Starbucks and others who advocate same-sex marriage, are we to ask every worker, every trucking company, every coffee bean supplier, and every air shipping company whether they support same-sex marriage?


When we visited San Diego in October, Rachel was given a necklace with a peace symbol ☮ pendant by one of her friends from her grade school days. She asked me and some other friends if it is okay to wear it, and the vast majority gave a negative answer, most of them saying it is “Satanic.” Having been a teen when it became a symbol of the hippies and the peace movement, I searched the Internet for clues on its origin. And while sleuthing about the peace symbol, I also “snoped” around regarding a couple more “Christian” myths: the Eagles’ mysterious “Hotel California” and Procter & Gamble’s infamous “man in the moon” logo. Here’s what I found, with my sources coming from the links.

peacesymbolThe Devil’s Symbol?
British commercial artist Gerald Holtom designed the familiar crow’s-foot-in-a-circle in 1958 for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. He considered using a Christian cross motif but, instead, settled on using letters from the semaphoric flag-signaling alphabet, super-imposing N(uclear) on D(isarmament) and placing them within a circle (earth). Holtom later explained his idea was to symbolize “a human being in despair” with arms outstretched downwards.

From U. K., the symbol migrated across the Atlantic through American peace activists. In a book, American pacifist Ken Kolsbun charts how the peace symbol was adopted for their own causes by the Civil Rights movement, the hippies, the Vietnam War protests, and the environmental, women’s and gay rights movements. Thus, it was adopted as the symbol for all kinds of liberal and protest movements.

In 1970, the conservative John Birch Society falsely linked the sign to a Satanic symbol of an upside-down, “broken” cross, hence the symbol’s supposed link to the devil.

hotelcalThe Devil’s Hotel?
Hotel California is the Eagles’ 1976 Grammy award winning album with the same title track. The lyrics contain mysterious – even ominous – overtones, spawning numerous theories about what the song means. Some believe the song was written about a real inn bearing that name in the Baja California peninsula in Mexico. Others connect it with a psychiatric hospital in Southern California.

But the most common speculation about Hotel California is its link with Satanism, culled from some of the lyrics, including: “We haven’t had that spirit here since 1969″; “they stab it with their steely knives, but they just can’t kill the beast” (emphases added).

Fanning the Satanism flame is a photo of a Spanish-looking inn with people in a courtyard. In the balcony above them looms a shadowy figure with arms spread which some have interpreted to be the leader of the Church of Satan welcoming the people below into his trap, thus, “You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.” And “they just can’t kill the beast” even if they stab it. A plausible but vacuous theory, because the “man” in the balcony was a woman hired for the photo shoot. And by the way, the hotel pictured in the album is Beverly Hills Hotel.

Many have tried to prove these theories, but none are convincing. So what is the song really all about? In a 1995 interview, Don Henley, the founding member of the group, said the song “captured the zeitgeist [spirit] of the time, which was a time of great excess in this country and in the music business in particular.” Barbara Mikkelson, in a Snopes.com article, concludes that the song is “an allegory about hedonism and greed in Southern California in the 1970s” that the Eagles experienced, so that “they were disquieted by it all and sought to…  warn others about the dark underside of such adulation.” It pictures southern California as “a gilded prison the artist freely enters only to discover that he cannot later escape.”

proctergamblelogoThe Devil’s Logo?
In the early 1980s, rumors started circulating that the logo of Procter & Gamble, makers of household cleaners, bath soap (P&G originated the “soap opera”) and other consumer goods, has Satanic symbolism. The logo’s motif is “the man in the moon” with a beard that appears to form an inverted “666,” the number of the beast, the Antichrist (Rev 13:18). The man also has the devil’s two horns: one from his hair, another one from his beard. The 13 stars is an imitation of the heavenly “woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of 12 stars” (Rev 12:1).

In addition to this logo problem, the president of the company was also rumored to have ties to the church of Satan. Christian organizations encouraged the public to boycott P&G products. Because of these persistent problems (I still get recycled chain letters about this sometimes), the company was forced to adopt a completely new logo with just a simple “P&G” in it.

So what was the original intended meaning of the logo? The original logo with 13 stars first appeared in 1851 as the symbol for their Star brand of candles. Later, the man in the moon looking at the 13 stars was added. The 13 stars symbolized the original 13 colonies that formed the Federal Union.

Who started these false rumors? Competitors might be the malicious culprit. In 1995, P&G started filing a series of lawsuits against a competitor, Amway, for reviving the rumors through its voice-mail system. In 2007, a jury awarded P&G $19 million in finding Amway guilty of spreading the rumors to bring P&G down. (Correction: P&G won its lawsuit against four Amway distributors, not against Amway.)

So should Rachel wear the peace symbol, a gift from a good friend, in public?

Christians must learn this lesson from these trilogy of rumor-mongering: as we are to be Bereans (Acts 17:10-11) when we study what our pastors and theologians are teaching, so too we are to be Bereans whenever we read, hear or see supposedly un-Christian or anti-Christian companies and personalities. One of the things I find very annoying is receiving forwarded untrue and unverified emails, rumors and urban legends, a violation of the Ninth Commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16; see 1 Tim 1:8-10, 4:1-2; Rev 21:8; Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 112).

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