Back in Colosse there is a somewhat prominant megachurch pastor and TV evangelist named Ross Garrett. His attendance was usually in the five digits and he is big enough that he has the President’s ear on matters of social policy. Though I never went to any of his services, I am told he is phenomenal and the one sermon of his I’ve heard backs that up.
The family I worked for at Wildcat was full of fundamentalist Christians. Politically, my boss Cal was pure Pat Buchanan and his son-in-law Red was more George W. Bush. During the run-up to the War in Iraq, there was a difference of opinion and a sort of rivalry broke out as they each tried to convince the rest of the gang that their cause was more just in the eyes of the Lord. Being the one with the CD burner, I was caught in the middle of this struggle.
Red gave me one of Pastor Ross’s sermons that directly addressed the coming war. Garrett declared our President a Man of the L0rd that we should follow as a good shepherd, Saddam was satan incarnate, the French are a joke, Clinton was to blame for 9/11, and those that opposed the war were analogous to the Germans that looked the other way while Jews burned. But Garrett has a way of making even the ridiculous sound sublime. It makes for interesting listening, whatever one’s opinion of the above individuals and the war might be. It was sufficiently interesting to me that I kept a copy of it until it got stolen with the rest of my CDs. It wouldn’t surprise me too much if the thief heard the sermon and begame one of Mr. Garrett’s congregation. The man is that charismatic.
But back to my copy of the CD. It was an illegal one. You see, Pastor Ross charged $3.99 for every copy of his sermons. I found this to be ethically quite interesting. First, there I was making illegal copies for some rather moralistic individuals. Second, I was making illegal copies of a sermon. Isn’t the point of a sermon to be heard? If Ross Garrett is spreading the Gospel of our Lord, shouldn’t priority A-1 be for as many people to hear it as possible? I understand that the church has to raise money and pay bills, but neverminding the extravegant mohogany doors and all that jazz, isn’t the primary goal of a church to spread the Word? Isn’t the money-raising supposed to be a means towards that end? Making copies of sermons not only doesn’t cost the church any money in absolute terms (there are opportunity costs, but see above), but it provides free advertising both for the church and the Word it professes to be in the business of spreading.
I suppose “business” is the operative word.