Thinking About What Others Will Think

April 23, 2010 by


Surprise [The city, not the imperative] Police Chief Dan Hughes says he never meant to offend anyone when he appeared in a church video.

Hughes, an elder in a non-denominational Christian church, said a fellow member called him about six months ago and asked if he would star in a video that would compare police training to the need for Christians to educate themselves about their faith.

At this point, all is well. Enjoy that while it lasts, and then go and watch the video (Warning: requires Windows Media Player).

While we appreciate the church’s effort to leverage the power of moving pictures to make a point, let’s look through a couple areas they could have improved, just to be clear we’re all taking about the same things:

  • They portray the police as ridiculous and dim-witted. You don’t want to mess with the police.
  • They’re using state property outside of its purpose, specifically for illustrations in their religious institution. Uh-oh.

So there are two quick issues. But they both embody one larger issue: This church never considered how the video would be perceived by someone outside of their congregation.

Would a police officer like to be portrayed like this? How would someone outside of their church view them after seeing this video? What would be the ramifications for the police chief? How would a church attendee feel if their local police chief worked with a mosque to make a video comparing law enforcement to the Qur’an?

This video made the assumption that no one outside of their church would see this video and that all who saw it, inside or out, would be sympathetic to their causes and beliefs. They didn’t consider the opinions of others before creating and publishing something for their purposes. And now their member, the police chief, is under heavy fire.

We’ve all made silly mistakes like this. Each of our churches has done a crazy thing or two and never considered what message it would send to others. But this is just a friendly public service reminder: Your church can’t do anything in a vacuum, and you’re always communicating something. Be careful, and be thoughtful.

Post By:

Joshua Cody

Josh Cody served as our associate editor for several years before moving on to bigger things. Like Texas. These days he lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, and you can find him online or on Twitter when he's not wrestling code.
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3 Responses to “Thinking About What Others Will Think”

  • Matt
    April 26, 2010

    While I agree that we should be sensitive to how others are going to perceive things, I don’t see how this video should be taken so out of context like it is. First, movie producers use real public property in shooting of videos all the time – and some do it in a way that makes those represented seem dimwitted. Do we take offense to that? Probably, because for some reason we have become so over sensitized that we can’t even laugh at ourselves. As a Christian, I can understand what this video is trying to say and I think it does it in a creative way. In my opinion, this doesn’t portray officers in the Sunrise Police Department as dimwitted. I think this excuse is just being used for other agendas. But then again, that’s just me.
    BTW – I also laugh when I read the Stuff Christians Like blog (and book), but others would probably take huge offense. Is that really any different?

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  • Marc Aune
    April 26, 2010

    I agree with Matt that the officer doesn’t look dimwitted because he is acting in an obviously ridiculous manner. The Christian woman is the one who looks silly. Unfortunately, it sounds like other officers were pretty mad and took offense.
    The police chief should have sought approval from the city manager (as the mayor did in a separate video referenced by the article) or another government body to avoid any appearance of impropriety: bias, misuse of government resources, state-support of a religious entity, etc. The church also should have offered to reimburse the department for the use of the Tahoe and other expenses incurred.
    Finally, people (churches) need to realize that the three “W’s” in any url stand for “world-wide web.” I doubt this video would have caused a big stir if it had just been shown during a service and not posted online.

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  • Ted
    April 28, 2010

    Bad idea. Awful execution. Plus, their use of WMV for delivery instead of Flash is just plain ignorant. What did they make this with? Windows Movie Maker? C’mon…

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