The Only Way Is Ethics: ‘Christian Today’ has to drop dodgy adverts

Over the last few years the website Christian Today has grown in prominence in the UK. It carries a wide range of religious news and commentary and high profile Christian leaders, like Krish Kandiah and Youthscape’s Martin Saunders, regularly write on the site. Ruth Mawhinney, a former Editor, is now Head of Media for Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Major problem

But there is a major problem with Christian Today.

And these are the adverts which litter its webpages. These adverts promote get-rich-quick schemes, crash-diet pills and dubious debt-solutions. It means that whatever good content the pages contain, they are all massively undermined by the unethical and corrupt advertising which surrounds them.

These are a selection of typical adverts which appear on Christian Today pages:christian-today-ads-e1525700721402.pngI clicked through on the one titled ‘Is there a Faster Way to Get Rich in Croydon?’ It took me to a site about Tesler Investments run by ‘CEO Stephen Abrahams’ In a video, Abrahams promises that anyone can make $5700 a day using his ‘special investment techniques’.

He repeatedly emphasises that he can make a ‘life-changing amount of money’ for anyone and appeals specifically to people who are struggling with debt worries. He states baldly:

“I love money and I love everything that comes with it”

Abrahams explains how he is worth $384 million but he has given half of his money to charity and good causes. And, perhaps with an eye on the Christian market, one of the video ‘testimonies’ is from someone claiming to be a missionary in Somalia who is aiming to use the funds he has made to build a hospital.

The truth

But the truth is that Stephen Abrahams is not worth millions of dollars. In fact he is not real, he is just an actor. And there is no such company as Tesler Investments.

Its just a scam. Tesler Investments entices naive people into handing over $250 with the promise of making huge amounts.  The web is full of reviews which expose them.

I work with people affected by debt and I know how vulnerable people are when they are desperately seeking solutions for their money worries. But these adverts exist because they work – the scammers and the platforms they advertise on, make a lot of money from ripping people off.

Frankly, it makes me sick to see this being promoted on a Christian website.

Christian Media Corporation

The business behind Christian Today is the Christian Media Corporation (CMC) based in the US. The CMC Group promotes itself as ‘the global Christian news leader’ and says:

“As the largest, premium all-digital media platform for the and religious audiences…Our primary investment objective is to amplify our growth to accomplish our mission with rapidity and scale.”

Quick growth is obviously vital to CMC. Even, it seems, by helping to rip off their Christian readers.

Integrity

I believe that Christians should communicate well and share their message effectively – but never at the expense of our integrity.

Being faithful is more important than accomplishing things ‘with rapidity and scale’.  After all, what good does it profit a website to gain all the readers in the world, yet forfeit its very soul? (as Jesus may well have said).

Shallow theology

CMC’s Statement of Faith is telling and illustrates the ethical weakness of US Evangelical theology. It is jammed full of propositional, doctrinal statements, referring to Jesus’ virgin birth, miracles, atoning death and resurrection.

But it says nothing about God’s concern for justice or the kingdom of God.

It is a world away from the Jesus’ recorded in the gospels – with his burning concern for righteousness, justice and standing up against the abuse of power, money and religion.

It is a shallow theology which sits comfortably with powerful business interests.

Dissonance

There is a massive dissonance between much of the good content of Christian Today and these appalling adverts. I am sure that many of the staff and contributors would agree with me.  It will be the bosses at CMC who will need persuading.

So I have written to Mr William C. Anderson, the CEO of CMC Group, to ask him to change CMC’s advertising policy. I’ll keep you updated as to what he says.

About Jon Kuhrt

Jon Kuhrt works with people affected by homelessness, offending and addictions at the West London Mission. He, his wife and three children live in Streatham, south London. He likes football...but loves cricket.
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6 Responses to The Only Way Is Ethics: ‘Christian Today’ has to drop dodgy adverts

  1. Andrew Drury says:

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. As someone who values the content of Christian Today, the advertisements are contrary to the essential messages that are communicated in the posts. As an example, the excellent series on Ecclesiastes illustrated the futility of chasing riches, yet the advertisements that accompanied it were similar to the ones in your screenshot.
    I would be interested in the response that you get, presuming that that they do reply.

    • Jon Kuhrt says:

      Thanks Andrew – yes articles about materialism are followed by adverts for get rich quick schemes and ones about body image and misogyny are followed by ‘cut the flab’ pills. It’s bonkers.

  2. donwootten@telus.net says:

    Thanks John. Very good article. Exactly the same problem in Canada. Don.

  3. Jonathan7 says:

    No fan of Christianity Today, and I certainly agree about hollow doctrinal points while not living out what Jesus says. However adverts by Google are targeted to specific users based on their browser history and adverts wouldn’t be needed if people were willing to pay for websites they are visiting. Ergo adverts are usually a necessary evil for a website to pay for itself especially as paywalls reduce reach.

    • Jon Kuhrt says:

      Just to be clear, it’s Christian Today rather than Christianity Today which is quite a different beast. My issue is with a specific type of adverts that Christian Today are signed up with – not a general anti-ads stance

  4. Ian Butcher says:

    I agree, and have often had a similar reaction when reading articles on Christian Today. I’ll be interested to see if you get any response from the CEO. Have you also contacted some of the contributors you mention to ask if they are comfortable with their material appearing alongside such advertising? I guess there is an extent to which it’s better for the likes of Kandiah and Saunders to be published rather than not, and they may or may not have the influence to change the publishing policy of CT, even if they would want to.

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