By: Alexander Carpenter
On May 6 and 7, Adventist media—including 3ABN, Hope Channel, and Amazing Facts—teamed up with Ron Wexler and a group of right-wing religious broadcasters such as Pat Robertson to restore the Ten Commandments’ role in American public life.
More than 3.2 million dollars were spent just by 3ABN and ASI, hundreds of thousands of books were printed, and more than seventeen hours were broadcast during the weekend. What was behind all this and who is Ron Wexler?
In late 2005, Ron Wexler (a developer of Israeli real estate for right-wing Christians) and Pastor Myles Munroe (Bahamas Faith Ministry International—a Pentecostal organization) organized the Ten Commandments Commission. Their stated objective was to elevate the importance of the Ten Commandments by placing monuments, plaques, and symbols throughout North America. Originally, the commission had settled on February 5 as Ten Commandments Day.
Something happened and Munroe was removed from the leadership. Blackie Gonzales (Son Broadcasting, a couple of VHF stations in New Mexico) replaced him as chairman of the Ten Commandments Commission board of directors. The main focus of the Ten Commandments Day is the promotion of little fake gold pins in the shape of the Decalogue that allow people to show their commitment to God’s law. See several videos on the Ten Commandments Web site that encourage people to purchase these pins for $14.99 each, plus $6.95 shipping.
According to Wexler, an orthodox Jew, as interest grew, the Ten Commandments Day was moved back three months to Sunday, May 7, 2006. Wexler says: "We literally have not been able to keep up with the incredible response we’ve gotten over the last few weeks for our Ten Commandments Pins.
Some folks at Daily Kos think the whole thing is an attempt to make money. As Tatarize points out: It is worth $14.95 right? Wait, at the bottom of the page there is a distributers link for the wholesale price…$5.50. That’s a 270% markup. Then they want $6.95 for shipping USPS Media Mail which actually costs $2 for a package that size. Didn’t Moses smash the Ten Commandments? What was that over? Oh yeah, religious leaders and people celebrating a golden religious icon.
And some folks in the world of Adventist media jumped on this bandwagon. View the proclamation here. And see Pacific Press and Signs of the Times’ book here; 3ABN’s book here; Amazing Facts’ book here; Ten Commandments bookmark here; Hope Channel’s book here; and Mark Finely’s book here. Finally, North American Religious Liberty Association offers a Ten Commandments CD here.
During the three-hour special program on the denomination’s Hope Channel, Pastor Brad Thorp and Gary Gibbs, president and vice-president, hosted Ron Wexler and Blackie Gonzales. During the interview, Wexler shares the usual restorationist shibboleths about how weather and homosexuals are running amuck because the Ten Commandments aren’t in certain courthouses. Be sure to see the thousands of petitions that Hope collected from Adventist churches.
Wexler provides further "reason" to restore the Ten Commandments (and buy his pin).As the fury of hurricane Rita is about to hit the shores of Texas just 3 weeks after the disaster left Katrina, people of faith must be wondering…it was revealed to me that in numerology, the numerical value of the Hebrew letters that make up the name Rita + God is equal to 620. The number of all the Hebrew letters that make up the Ten Commandments is.…620! Is there a onnection?
What? Why is the Adventist Church advertising this guy’s wacky agenda?
Well, what became of all this? According to the Washington Post, many Adventist are wondering, as well. Apparently, there are a lot of books left over.
And here is a chat room where conservative Adventists dutifully wonder where the "first day" folks were when it was time to spread the word about the Ten Commandments.
Or was it all about making a buck?
Here Alan Reinach, head of the North America Religious Liberty Association—West, admits that it all "turned out to be largely a non-event."
Were we used by Ron Wexler? Who spearheaded the Church’s coordinated jump onto this bizarre bandwagon? Was the Ten Commandments Commission just an attempt to make money off of pin sales?
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/4554