A New Advertising Approach

How to counter the charge that Adventists are "time setters."

By Merwin R. Thurber

During the effort conducted by the Review and Herald family last autumn in a sub­urb of Washington, very active opposition de­veloped. People went from door to door in a "whispering campaign," urging their neighbors not to attend the meetings, and telling them that Adventists are "time setters," and there­fore not worthy of an audience. The attend­ance at the meetings, never very strong, dwindled alarmingly. Direct and drastic ac­tion was imperative.

F. D. Nichol, who had charge of the meet­ings, changed the form of the weekly announce­ment dodger, making a small four-page leaflet. The first and second pages were given over to a short article setting forth some of the facts of the "whispering campaign," an allusion to the 1844 experience, and a challenge to all truth-loving people to attend the next lecture and hear the Adventist side of the story. The heading in large type was, "Are Adventists Time Setters?" The third page contained the regular weekly program, and the last page a boxed statement calling attention to the whole announcement.

As was customary, the circular was placed in all the homes in the community, so everyone was given a chance to read. A good crowd came out to hear the lecture, and a turning point was reached in the series.*

Because of the measure of success attending this venture, a similar leaflet was prepared when the subject, "Why Do You Keep Sunday?" was presented. On the first and second pages was a general statement concerning the keep­ing of Sunday, with particular emphasis on the charge of "Fanatic, Fanatic!" that is hurled at Seventh-day Adventists whenever they bring up the subject of Sabbath and Sunday keeping.

It was felt that these handbills served well the purpose for which they were devised. They provide an opportunity for general statements regarding our beliefs that is new and direct, and could be used effectively against other forms of opposition that require direct action.

Washington, D. C.

*Doubtless the phrasing of this unique handbill will be of interest to those who may be confronted with a similar situation, and who may wish to follow the procedure outlined. A portion of the text fol­lows:

"Religion, unfortunately, seems to have at least one point in common with politics,—as soon as a man begins to set forth his beliefs, he becomes the target for a wide range of charges. Occasionally the charges are true, but more often, as we all know, they are very far from the truth. But always there are charges. And the fervor with which they are circulated is always in ratio to the importance and influence of the movement or belief being attacked. In fact, opposition may properly be viewed as ex­cellent proof that a movement is making a definite impression on the world. Men do not become stirred up to Oppose something that is dead or dying. There­fore, in one sense, we need not feel bad merely be­cause we have been subjected to a sort of 'whispering campaign' since opening the Bible and Health Chau­tauqua lectures in Mount Rainier.

"We are sorry to have to turn aside from our regu­lar Bible programs to deal with such matters as this. But we can remain silent no longer. In the interest of truth, and that the public may know the facts in the matter, we shall answer tonight (Satur­day, November 26) the most prominent of the charges circulated against us. And that charge is : 'Seventh-day Adventists are time setters; they are always set­ting a time for Christ to come.'

This accusation is frequently made more colorful by some vague reference to an event back in the nineteenth century, when, under the powerful preach­ing of a group of ministers. many thousands of people actually made ready for the coming of Christ on a certain date. Now what was that striking event in religious history ? Of what denomination, or denomi­nations, were those ministers and church people? Were they Seventh-day Adventists? If not, who were they ? You will hear the answer to these questions tonight. Editors.

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By Merwin R. Thurber

February 1933

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