For years, I have circulated Internet petitions against outrageous assaults on Christianity and culture. By doing so, the Return to Order website hopes to give a voice to those who are offended by these crass attacks on our Faith. We also ask offenders to stop the offense by canceling events or taking down blasphemous displays or products. We have often been successful.
Since these efforts often involve tens of thousands of signatures, I often hoped in vain that the major media would take notice. After all, this is real news. However, they have always ignored us.
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All that changed in the middle of June. Imagine my surprise to see a huge media response to one of our petitions. Everyone wanted to know about it. I received, for example, an email from The New York Times asking for an interview. Soon stories started circulating in Vanity Fair, The Guardian, the BBC, Newsweek, TV Guide among others. Local newspapers picked it up, and foreign papers from the remotest places carried the story.
I never saw so much traffic on our website. Our twitter account went crazy.
Finally, the media noticed a petition…or so it seemed. A closer examination, however, revealed that they all picked up on a mistake.
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Much Ado About a Mistake
It was a simple mistake that slipped under the radar. In the six years since we started these petitions on the Return to Order website, it was the first time something like this has happened.
We have protested horrendous films and series that have appeared on both Amazon Prime and Netflix. In the editing process of the petition, this protest against the series “Good Omens,” got directed to Netflix instead of Amazon Prime. Some twenty thousand people signed the petition. When we realized our mistake, we immediately apologized and took the petition down to Netflix and redirected it to Amazon. We put in place measures to avoid a reoccurrence.
An Overwhelming Attack
However, the media turned the mistake into a circus. They insinuated that this one-time mistake was a typical manner of acting of “movie-hating Christians.” Instead of addressing the problem of offensive content, they focused on the finger that had pointed, mistakenly for a while, at the problem.
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The resulting onslaught of news stories was truly overwhelming. It was as if someone had thrown a switch somewhere to let loose a firestorm of ridicule. The basic storyline used extensive quotes from our email that introduced the petition supplementing them with comments on the absurdity of the protest itself and especially its wrong target.
The comments sections of the articles are abusive collections of remarks calling Return to Order every insult or politically incorrect name in the book. We are morons, white supremacists, Nazis, dunces and fools. The Return to Order Twitter account received myriad comments with obscene remarks, offensive images and Satanic invocations. The TFP Wikipedia page quickly listed the small mistake as a major “controversy.” Emails to my account heaped insults and rage upon me, even to the point of ridiculing my legacy AOL account.
The hatred and fury transcended any rational debate. The level of vitriol displayed so much intolerance and posturing.
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Missing the Point
I have grown accustomed to such abuse. It is to be expected when dealing with liberals and their double standards. But in this case, the sheer volume of the abuse surprised me.
However, I was also amazed by the lack of understanding by those who wrote the news accounts. These writers will overcome every obstacle to show understanding for the problems of certain interest groups—undocumented immigrants, for example. Yet they make no effort to try to understand why Catholics might be offended when streaming services like Amazon Prime and Netflix ridicule and insult Our Divine Savior, His Blessed Mother, and the Catholic Faith.
To the reporters, the 20,000 signers of the Return to Order petition represented a cold statistic. The offenses in the series were treated as amusing details. The 20,000 Catholics and Christians are portrayed as immature and oversensitive fools who cannot understand the divine and unassailable nature of entertainment.
Indeed, the blame is shifted from the producers of blasphemies to those who protest them. Thus, the media missed the whole point of the petition. They were at least consistent. Although they published reports of the Return to Order error all over the world, they ignored the reasonableness of the petition as they have for years. Nothing has changed.
Christians Should Have a Voice
In the fight for the culture, Christians must have a voice. Many forget that Christian protest is also free speech. And protests without requests for action are toothless. Calls for canceling offensive content are hardly censorship since they have no force of law. They are merely the collected outrage and indignation of private individuals. However, such feedback does influence the debate and often proves successful. That is why Return to Order engages the culture; we cannot afford not to do so.
It was reasonable, for example, that Return to Order asked Walmart to stop selling satanic products. Their online catalog has 22 pages—around 440 items—of demonic merchandise that includes, as we noted, “demonic sculptures and figures; satanic pornography that blasphemes Christ’s crucifixion; numerous products and jewelry with pentagrams and other demonic images, and books that include the Satanic bible and books on spells.”
The petition was signed by over 75,000 concerned Americans, many of whom patronize the giant retailer. No media became excited about this monumental effort.
That is why we have protested against public black masses, blasphemous films and Satanic monuments. Christians must be in the public square to help inform the culture that influences the lives of everyone. Failure to appear on the scene is to abandon society to an ever more aggressive anti-Christian adversary that, as the mistake over “Good Omens” indicates, believes that Christians should be thrown to the lions.
Updated June 28, 2019.