Determining Factors in Our Broadcasting

From a chapel talk at the Theological Seminary.

By HAROLD M. S. RICHARDS, The Voice of Prophecy, Los Angeles, California

The philosophy back of a national broadcast, or any radio broadcast for that matter, is sim­ply this—a continuous evangelistic campaign. Naturally, the Voice of Prophecy does not go on the air and say, "This is the Seventh-day Advent­ist hour." But we never hide our identity; we always tell people who we are, if they ask. We have been mentioned in practically all the religious journals, and our contract is signed in such a way that people know it is a Seventh-day Adventist program.

We preach all the lines of truth on the air. We do not, however, give the mark of the beast, nor do we speak on spiritism except inadvertently, for any mention of this immediately brings in sharp protests from the Spiritualist churches. Besides, there is a rule with the broadcasting companies that it is not ethical to attack any denomination as such on the air. We want people to hear the message. We want to be able to continue to carry our radio program on month after month, year after year, until the work is finished.

The Spirit of prophecy says that when we go into a city it is not necessary to give our name at the very beginning. It is not wise to say that we are Seventh-day Adventists. Billy Sunday did not say, "I am .a Presbyterian," when he came to town. Charles Fuller does not announce over the air that he is a Baptist, though he is—and a hard-shelled one at that. Dr. Martin DeHaan up in Michigan does not go on the air and say, "I am a Methodist." These men are all conducting evangelistic pro­grams.

If the church could afford to pay for a regular church program to publicize the Adventist Church, that would be very fine. But the church would have to reach down into its pocket to pay for the whole thing. We must put on the best possible programs to hold our audiences over die air, and to induce others to listen. We must be dignified. It is a real task to accomplish all this—to make the public like the program, and to get enough. people to appreciate it enough to send in their fifty-cent pieces, their dollar bills, and their thou­sand-dollar gifts to keep the program going and win souls to Christ. That is our constant prob­lem—to balance these various objectives, and at the same time to keep a good program going.

We must always remember, too, that broadcasting system officials are listening. They censor every one of our scripts. Two months ago Mutual set up an office of censorship in New York. They do not call it that, but simply Office of Script. Up to that time all programs were censored at the point of origin—the local stations did the job. They had the final say, and programs could be put on over the entire system. That was subject, how­ever, to many abuses, because the program direc­tor would sometimes become very friendly with the local men, and all sorts of strange things that were not checked would go out over the air. So this censorship is now established in the office of the Mutual System in New York, and we must have our script in two weeks before it is to be given. That is the policy.

I have had only one line deleted since the coast-to-coast hookup, and only one line before that out on the Pacific Coast. The latter was something which they said smacked of commu­nism. Imagine that ! I had used a statement from Time and another magazine about the money in circulation in the United States, to the effect that the amount of cash, if divided up, would amount to $3,000 a person. And I said, "Do you have your $3,000?" I guess they thought it sounded like a man on a soapbox or a street corner. Al­though it was just a little pleasantry, it was looked upon as propaganda.

The sentence deleted two weeks ago in New York was about colored-glass windows in the churches. They said, "If you leave that in, it will have a tendency to offend Catholics and Episcopalians." I replied, "Oh, we have colored-glass windows in our own churches." But the office in New York called me up and told me to take it out, so I left the whole paragraph out. That indicates the care we have to take with our copy.

We must ever keep an enthusiastic evangelistic program going. Our objective is definitely to win men to Christ every week. We believe that we must put Christ in every program; He must be the center. We never go on the air to preach just the law, the Sabbath, or the sanctuary. We preach Jesus, and what He says on these things; we tell what He did and does about them; and what Christ our Lord means. He is in everything that is worth preaching about. Since we have done this, our program has been much more popular, and the finances have come in more easily.

During this last year we have not been permit­ted to mention finances, directly or indirectly, and we have lived up to that absolutely. We do not even suggest offerings, but some of our competi­tors do. The first Sunday after this new ruling went into effect, one competing religious com­mentator said, over the air, "We have a new rule, and there are certain things we cannot say. There­fore, you go home and read 1 Corinthians 16:2, and act on it." I said to the program producer, "Do you know what that text says ?" He replied, "No," and then he read it, and became excited and phoned the agency that sold the time, and I was told that the agency made it warm for that broad­caster.

We promised the broadcasting system to abide by their rule, and so have made no appeals for funds. We have lived up to the order, and I am glad to tell you that since we have stopped talking about money, we have received more than ever. I am glad that rule is in force, but I am sorry we did not start acting on it before we were forced to. The way to raise money is not to talk about it—at least, not on the radio. We never ask for money directly, even in printed propaganda. We suggest it, of course, in the circular letter sent out to those whose names we have on our list.

Now just a word about the book-for-the-month. Our idea in using a book-for-the-month and our printed propaganda as a supplement, is to make permanent the message given over the air. So we offer literature with the spoken word. Next to our own personal consecration and infilling of the Holy Spirit, I believe, nothing ought to occupyour minds so much as a gospel propaganda. And that is what the Voice of Prophecy attempts to do—hold the gospel of Christ before the world al­ways by the spoken word, and back it up with lit­erature. How will we ever give the message to the millions except by the public press and the radio? Of course, we know that the Holy. Spirit has a thousand ways of doing things. One person can tell another. But for the masses to get the message quickly from a human standpoint, we be­lieve that the radio and the press are the chief means.

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By HAROLD M. S. RICHARDS, The Voice of Prophecy, Los Angeles, California

July 1946

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