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.

Category: Church

About the Author

7 Responses to The Gospel of Our Lord, $3.99

  1. Barry says:

    I sometimes even stretch that analogy to music in general – that it’s meant to be heard, and enjoyed, and if it’s hidden behind prohibitive cost barriers, then only a fraction of the people actually get to hear it. And that’s missing the entire point. I know there has to be money made to support the artist, but the art has to survive. Is it an ethically grey area? Yeah. But I don’t know…it’s music. What am I supposed to do? 🙂

    But it is funny that the Super-Christian boss is asking you to burn illegal copies of a sermon. On company time, no less 😉

    I worked for a company that was similar – the bosses all went to the same church, and there was a “Christian” underpinning to the whole business structure. But the bosses were as underhanded and double-dealing in their business lives as any non-Christian might be. It’s a shame that though the Lord gives them eyes, they do not see and ears, but they do not hear…

  2. Abel says:

    Yeah, you’d think sermons would be open source. 🙂

  3. Kate the Peon says:

    Good point, WT.

  4. Beth says:

    good point and yet another reason why I belong to the church that I belong to.

  5. trumwill says:

    I respect the right of musicians and their enablers (record companies, radio stations, etc.) to make money for their work. And I understand that to do so they need to put limits out there on who can listen to their music. But the problem I see right now with the music industry is that they are operating solely to maximize profit. Now there’s no different than any other industry, but music ought to be different. The Constitution gives congress the right to support the arts and sciences with intellectual property protection for the promotion of the sciences and arts. Art is not being promoted if it’s being locked away from the general populace. In my mind, once music is released to the general public, there are certain obligations that come with that. When they did everything they could to keep people from being able to listen to music on their computer solely because they were profitting just fine without it, they failed to live up to their end of the bargain.

    That’s what I tell myself when I rip a CD that I didn’t purchase, anyway.

  6. trumwill says:

    If there was anything that ought to be open-sourced, you would think that laying out the pathway to heaven would be pretty high on that list. Or at least I would.

    I meant to mention that this is one area where LDS excels. They do everything they can to get their word out there, including giving away hard-copies of the Book of Mormon that costs money to print. I may reject the message and get a little testy with the messengers, but I respect the consistency of the enterprise.

  7. trumwill says:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

If you are interested in subscribing to new post notifications,
please enter your email address on this page.