Monday, November 10, 2014

The Cost Of Proselytizing: Millions In Printing, Thousands In Trash Bins and Hundreds Of Postal Carriers With Broken Backs

And billions$ to a nation that doesn't want it.

It seemed like a harmless irritation: a "gift" from a religious institution, a proselytizing reprint of a very old work by a "prophetess" - a tome only a few thousand people have read in the past 100 years. It came in my mailbox, addressed to "resident."

It also came to all the other 260 residents in my building. And the 9500 residents in my city's residential development (Park Merced). And about 250,000 households in San Francisco.

My postal carrier gave me tales about how many people were complaining and about how many hundreds more were still in her truck waiting to be delivered.

I looked up the publisher and the organization:

From the website of Remnant Publications:

Over the past year Remnant Publications has been sending mass mailings of The Great Controversy to major cities in the United States. So far we’ve blanketed New York City; Washington, DC; and Charlotte, NC, with nearly two million copies of this crucial end-time book.
Our supporters made this possible by funding the printing and mailing costs for the books. Now we’re reaching into the San Francisco Bay area in California.
San Francisco is not the easiest community to reach. For years the city has been at the forefront of the gay movement. In fact, 15 percent of San Francisco residents are homosexual. The area is home to the University of California-Berkeley, a hotbed of liberal ideas. It also contains the affluent communities of Silicon Valley, where high-tech companies like Google and Facebook are changing the world on a daily basis.
Only about 20 percent of the people in San Francisco County are affiliated with any Protestant church. There is only one Seventh-day Adventist for every 672 people in this area. We have a lot of work to do to share the gospel in these cities!
The people of San Francisco may not know it, but they desperately need the eternal hope that Jesus offers. That hope is contained in the pages of The Great Controversy. We want to get the message into their hands before it’s too late. (emphasis mine)
In other words, they don't care whether we want it or not. Such is the ideology of the proselytizer.
The Cost Of Proselytizing

Being accosted by a mega-phoned street preacher is one thing, but having him come into your mailbox at the cost of USPS service and revenue is another.

First Class mail volume peaked in 2001[52] and has declined 29% from 1998 to 2008, due to the increasing use of email and the World Wide Web for correspondence and business transactions.[53]

Lower volume means lower revenues to support the fixed commitment to deliver to every address once a day, six days a week. According to an official report on November 15, 2012, the U.S. Postal Service lost $15.9 billion its 2012 fiscal year.[citation needed]

In 2012, the USPS had its third straight year of operational losses, which amounted to $4.8 billion.[51]
Doing The Math
Over the past year Remnant Publications has been sending mass mailings of The Great Controversy to major cities in the United States. So far we’ve blanketed New York City; Washington, DC; and Charlotte, NC, with nearly two million copies of this crucial end-time book.

Since the United States Post Office does not depend upon overt government funding, the cost of mailings is paid for by the people who actually pay postage. Yes, you and me and businesses across the country. Of course, the government gets a discount as well, but figure it out: the cost of shipping a book is the same as 4-5 first-class letters.

Business is affected as well: those pesky catalogs cost money to mail and postal increases are on to the consumer.

So, the Bay Area mailing cost approximately $360,000, while the the cost to mail the same book via "media mail" (for a business), is $672,500.

Project Restore boasts two million copies mailed, covering parts of New York, and Washington, D.C. Two million copies: $2-3 million in printing costs, with up to $2 million in postal revenue lost. Of course, one could argue that if the mass mailing did not take place, then that would mean another $1 million in revenue lost, but the strain put on the USPS and its carriers should be taken into consideration. 2 million books is an awful lot to ship and carry. $1 million may not sufficiently cover costs.

Little Relevance

"It Not Junk Mail! It's From God!"

The Great Controversy has very little relevance today (you should see what it says the results of masturbation are!). Going through the history of the Reformation may be of slight interest to scholars (many who debunk the book for its scholarship anyway), but the general public could care less about who Ellen G. White is or her 19th century expostulations on Wycliffe, Zwigli, or the Waldenses. And a mass mailing about obscure Protestant reformers in a time when history in schools is the poorest subject, makes very little sense. It's also anti-papist in the extreme, leaving a bad taste in the mouth for people who are rejoicing in the current pope.

And having been bombarded by Fundamentalists via the media of the 21st Century, chapters like "The Origin of Evil" "Snares of Satan" and "Can Our Dead Speak To Us?" are shopworn in the extreme.

As well, the above statement by Remnant shows little regard for the facts - or for the demographics of the people involved: there are 7 million people in the greater San Francisco Bay Area and only 30 SDA churches, hence there is one church for every 230,000+ people. San Francisco (750,000) and Oakland (over 1 million) share six. There may be a reason for those abysmal figures: "San Francisco has not been the easiest community to reach" simply because the Bay Area won't support SDA churches. It has been out of the Fundamentalist mindset for many years.

The fact that the area has been a "hotbed of liberal ideas" smacks a bit political besides being a hotbed of gay "sin" which also smacks of being religiously homophobic.

And while it can be argued that SDA churches have had food drives and such, they have not been on the par with established agencies (like St. Anthony's Dining Room). Pope Francis would not be impressed*

A book written by a "prophet" ( and whose "visions" were later attributed by many to be forms of epilepsy) describing the Reformation, tinged with racism, plagiarism and anti-papist sentiments sent to a demographic as a anti-gay, anti-liberal piece of proselytizing: perhaps the true Great Controversy is WTF?

Return To Sender Campaign

14 years ago, a biblical video of the Life of Jesus was sent to over 450,000 residents in Palm Beach, FL. Problem: at the time, 255,000 residents were Jewish.

St. Petersburg Times

"... the mass mailing demonstrates the arrogance and insensitivity of Christian evangelicals who, as Bishop O'Connell suggested, believe that God is theirs and theirs alone, that only they will pass through the pearly gate and sit on the right-hand side of St. Peter. The Rev. Harris Campbell, a local preacher, exemplifies such intolerance.
Speaking to the Post about the mailing, he said: "We're doing this because it's our fundamental belief that unless a person trusts in Christ, they will not be saved."
The mailing cost $1.2-million, but South Florida fought back with thousands of "return-to-senders" flooding the post office. Some of them were attached to bricks in the hopes that the Jesus Video Project would have to pay additional shipping charges. 

Perhaps we should organize against future mailings of The Great Controversy!

In The End

The SDA mass mailing is only one of many proselytizing mailings that go out every year. In a great article - How To Stop The Charity Junk Mail Monster, Mary Hunt tackles those pesky "gift"-mail pleas for donations. It doesn't touch on the kind of proselytizing mail problem the SDA mailing presents, but it does focus on the sheer volume that religious/non-profit mailings burden us and the USPS with every day. Vast, unsolicited, blanket mailings are not only irritating, insulting (in some cases) and virtually fruitless, they are costing everyone else in postage rates and USPS services. 

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