Abandon All Fear

What nobody else seems to be saying…

What Should Westernised Christians Protest Next?

Posted by Lex Fear on December 9, 2007

Temporarily breaking my self-imposed blog-silence-because-I’m-just-too-busy-right-now for an issue which is close to my heart.

It’s hard to balance you’re Christian faith with civil disobedience and generally outside-of-the-law-but-just causes, especially when faced with the prevalent mindset amongst Westernised Christianity is to ‘submit’ yourself to “governing authorities” that have been “established by God”. Unfortunately this Christian feels that this particular scripture has been misappropriated and become warped into something more akin to “honour thy government, then God” but I digress.

Since it seems that The Golden Compass has effectively ‘bombed‘ on it’s opening weekend in the States, Westernised Christians must now be feeling empty and wondering what next to boycott/protest. Therefore may I suggest they turn their attention to matters of copyright and copyright enforcement?

I’m not talking about making sure Hillsong or Soul Survivor keep their steady stream of income, I’m talking about taking a stand against the principalities and powers at work to give copyright owners and enforcers the power to become despots.

Recently a charity in the UK has been visited by ‘officers’ of the Performing Rights Society (PRS) and told they have fork out a large amount of money for a licence to not only play a radio (which can be heard in the vicinity of the general public) but also to allow the kids to sing Christmas Carols. That’s right folks, songs that were originally created originally as worship for Jesus and generally celebrating the joy of Christ-Mas are owned by artist managing companies who are keen to make a buck from the worship of your Lord and Saviour.

Has anyone considered the ramifications for churches (which are registered charities)? Are there churches out there that already pay these stupid fees? Of course, church leaders may say they are exempt, they sing music from artists such as Matt Redman and Darlene Czech every Sunday. Matt and Darlene may hardly have a problem with this, but their record companies might. For instance: Hillsong is registered with the MAFIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), who have been blitzing file-sharers with legal threats, court summons and out of court settlements. The fact that the file-sharers may be kids, dead people or family pets don’t factor into it, neither does the fact that the file-sharers have not made a single penny from SHARING. All they’ve done is SHARE a digital copy rather than, say, SHARE a physical DVD with a friend. The important part here is that it is the MAFIAA, not the artists that are doing the suing. Darlene and Matt may be happy for churches in America to SHARE and WORSHIP together, but what happens when the MAFIAA has squeezed dry the file-sharers who don’t feel morally obliged to respect copyrightwrong?

We don’t care about this right now because:

1) It doesn’t affect us yet, and
2) It’s only bad people who don’t respect copyright.

But these are both wrong assertions. It’s only a matter of time before the MAFIAA spots the lucrative potential of the tithe. Sounds ridiculous? So does suing a garage for playing a radio.


8 Responses to “What Should Westernised Christians Protest Next?”

  1. Alan Noble said

    Here here. Copyright is absurd. Another related issue is the CCLI: http://www.ccli.com/, which is essentially taking the task of creating worship songs for the Lord and turning it into just another sub genre in the Music industry. It’s ugly.

  2. StefZ said

    A couple of shakedown artists visited my family’s snack bar a few months ago and tried to hit us for a couple of hundred quid because the radio playing in the preparation area could just about be heard by customers in the shop.

    My brother ripped the radio out and told them to f*** off.

    Everyone I know in the catering trade has been on the receiving end of form letters sent by the PRS demanding money with menaces

    It’s all part of the same system/ pattern that’s developed in recent years with the likes of charity fund raising and TV licencing.

    Revenue collection is farmed out to private enterprise on a commission basis whilst the heading on the notepaper remains unchanged and a whole new industry has grown up in a country that has forgotten and no longer has the appetite to employ itself making or doing things that are genuinely useful

    A nation filled with people largely occupied with miss-selling financial services and fining each other is not, I would suggest, a nation with a particularly rosy future

  3. mattghg said

    “What should westernized Christians protest next?”

    Maybe they (oh, yeah, we) should join the Archbishop of York’s protest against Mugabe. I don’t think there’s any oil in Zimbabwe so the country’s not going to be liberated by being bombed to pieces any time soon.

    About copyright: sadly I think it’s just the case with any law that is set up to do something sensible ends up getting abused. I don’t know what should be done because I’m not a lawyer, but clearly when the laws were written they didn’t have internet file sharing and mechanics “performing” music on their radios in mind.

  4. While the title of this blog was probably tongue-in-cheek, I think the blogger who said, “my advice for Christians is this: withdraw. You’re fighting a rearguard fight, to retain a legalistic remnant of a religious society which has long ago passed into oblivion. Treat Christianity as your faith tells you to. Be like the Christians under the Roman Empire, pay your taxes to the Emperor and go on building a society within a society. Do not fight for your religious or ethical footholds in secular society from the outside. Instead, work in the interstices of secular society, fight for your values from within” is right on. Christianity is taking a beating in today’s culture. We need to clean house and re-group.

  5. afear said


    That CCLI site is unbelievable. They’re just feeding of the need inside of Christian artists to feel like they are complying with (implied) laws. I really wish that Christians would learn to distinguish between real laws and abuse of authority.

    I actually feel like taking action.. writing to a few churches round here as “God” with cease and desist actions for libel and/or copyright of ‘God’s works (which would be the OT and NT). Perhaps raise awareness in some way?


    Good on your bro. If enough people stood up to this and said no, then it would not happen.


    I’m sure that when cars were invented they didn’t have speed limits in mind either, but the way to do it is not force people to keep using horses- which is what the industry is trying to do. They are trying to stop the tide from coming in. What they should focus on instead is other streams of revenue, just like Madonna’s new label has. Should Intellectual Property even be ‘copyrighted’? I’m pretty sure we’d all be stuffed if Jesus had implemented it, or, for non-believers, Shakespeare, for example. What intellectual copyright means is making one entity the sole owner of those works for the purpose of revenue. Once the revenue runs out (ie. people are no longer interested or cannot afford it) the works get shelved and people forget about them. Pretty soon, people don’t care about those old works either, not only that, if there’s a choice between something that’s free and something that costs a lot to reproduce- which is going to last longer? Case in point- the letters of Paul, thousands of ancient hymns, and I could go on…


    The problem with the church seems to stem from the fact that it sees itself as the moral guardian of society, a society that has learned to ignore it, but it continues to act in this haughty way. Whilst I don’t agree with withdrawal, what I advocate is being it’s own lasting culture, eg. stop releasing music under secular contracts with secular standards. Release music (worship to God) free, as this form of worship to God is meant to be*. The same could be said of modern business methods some churches have adopted, or consumer like culture to attract middle-class hedonists. The church needs to change, rise above and beyond culture to simply be a seperate entity all together. So that when those who do seek to escape their lives, culture or bad habits, they have somewhere to go, somewhere that stands apart, not just another organisation seeking to provide entertainment.

    *Let’s face it, is there any secular artists who are going to try and rip off a worship song and be able to sell it, or are there really Christian bands who would try to lie and say it was their own work? In contrast, look what happens when modern bands cover old songs- they come up with something popular and creative (and they attribute the original artist). Copyright simply stifles creativity, it doesn’t enable it.

  6. Alan Noble said

    To top it off CCLI is the standard. I’m fairly certain that almost every single church in the US pays the CCLI without questioning what this means about worship and the worship industry. Every church I’ve ever attended has printed their CCLI license agreement number at the bottom of every lyric slide.

    The hard thing about this for me is that although I feel it is a genuinely serious issue, I’m not sure what could be done about it. I don’t feel like it would be right for me to tell the Elders of my church and ask them to stop playing songs licensed by CCLI. The ruckus it would cause in the congregation (a congregation marketed to by “praise and worship” labels who help fuel CCLI) would be incredible. Every time I think of addressing it I think, if my Elders/pastor has enough time in the pulpit to address this issue and cause the church to abandon CCLI music and ask members to right copyright free music I think, “isn’t there something more eternally important that they could be doing?”

    So I’m left with frustration over what I feel is a serious issue, but with the acknowledgment that the issue isn’t eternally as big as say, people’s salvation, starvation, suffering, overall consumerism, etc…

  7. Alex Fear said

    On the one hand, I think you’re right Alan, just as Matt raised the issue of Zimbabwe and the actions of the Archbishop of York.

    On the other hand, there is a little known website in the UK call Ship of Fools that do fun (but thinking) stunts like sending ‘Mystery Worshippers’ along to churches then later writing that church to tell them how they’ve been graded.

    Yes copyright does seem to be a bit of Western issue more than it is a Christian issue, however I see it is as something subversive and unaccountable, just as there are those who are called to be missionaries in the third world, I believe some of us are called to point the way ahead to challenge some of these authorities and their abuses here in the West.

    There are plenty of people in the West homeless and/or starving this Christmas, up to their necks in debt. American healthcare system is one such example of a government authority that is allow this to happen. In the UK our government wants to extend detention without trial to 42 days (and that’s not on some little remote island outside of our jurisdiction).

    Copyright may come a bit further down the list than these pressing issues, and maybe i’m just a little paranoid but I see a bleak future where the majority is controlled by an elite minority, where entertainment replaces the truth and I see this creeping into the church.

    Not enough Londoners seemed to oppose the congestion zone a few years ago, and now we have something called ‘function creep’, where access is being granted to the police to use to track anyone they like. Not only that, our government is signing away our data and dna to Europe so that law enforcement can search through anyone’s records they want. Children are on the police dna database, at the objection of their parents- innocent children, simply because of wrong identity or involvement in a crime that took place (police take every suspects dna, and they don’t delete it even after innocence proved).

    I digress.

    But I simply don’t see copyright ending at the entertainment industry. I don’t see it as moral or ethical to sue one filesharer (not a pirate, just a sharer) for millions of dollars for sharing a few songs and even if we weren’t to care about the fate of secular works, how long is it before these organisations start dictating church policy (if they haven’t already)?

  8. Hi Alex,

    I just spotted your rant and agree completely. That’s why I’ve set up http://www.christiansagainstcopyright.org
    Come join the party.


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