Friday, 25 April 2008

Reachout Trust Style Guide

James tells us that, "All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tonugue". I have particular cause for thinking of these words this week because I just can't get my tongue out of my cheek. You see, inspired by the astonishingly convincing efforts of the Mormon Church to control even the way people talk about them behind their backs by publishing a style guide, we at Reachout Trust have produce one of our own. The original Mormon style guide can be found here

Here is our very own:.

Reachout Trust Style Guide

The official name of Reachout Trust is” Reachout Trust”, or “The Reachout Trust”. This name was devised to reflect the aim of the trust, which is to “Reach Out” with the Good News of Jesus Christ to people in the cults. The clue is right there in the name.

While the Trust is sometimes referred to as “anti” something or other, e.g. “anti-Mormon”; anti-Jehovah’s Witnesses”; “anti-this-and-that” it is not an authorized title or description, we get pretty ticked off when people use it, and discourage its use for that reason.

The official description of Reachout Trust is “a Christian Ministry”, reflecting the rather obvious fact that we “minister” the Christian Gospel.

When writing about “The Reachout Trust”, please follow these guidelines:

  • In the first reference, the full name of “The Reachout Trust” is preferred; “The Reachout Trust”.

  • Please avoid the use of “Those anti-(put your preferred cult in here),” “The scoundrels in Reachout,” “Those dreadful Reachout people,” and other such sobriquets. It kind of hurts our feelings and gives our day a bad start.

  • When a shortened reference is needed, the term “Reachout” is encouraged.

  • When referring to Reachout personnel, the term “Someone from Reachout Trust” is preferred, although that person’s name, provided you know it, used in conjunction with the name “Reachout Trust” is acceptable, e.g. “Bill from Reachout Trust”. You may also, of course, call them “Christians” because that is what we are.

  • The term “Cult Ministry” is acceptable when used to describe the full range of ministry work we do, although we prefer “Christian Ministry to the Cults”.

  • When referring to people who practice in an aggressive, dishonest, violent and offensive way to the cults the term “Reachout Trust” should only be used in the sense of, “not like those nice people at Reachout Trust”. The Reachout Trust Style Book says of such things, “Don’t do it. It’s bad enough that there are people out there who are dumb enough to believe that criticism amounts to persecution and persecution ‘proves’ they have the truth. Don’t affirm them in this crazy thinking by actually persecuting them.”

Of course, the Mormon Church explains the necessity for a style guide by saying that Mormonism is misunderstood, misrepresented in the press and by its critics and needs to clarify these things for people. As we have observed elsewhere and on many occassions, on the face of it this seems a healthy exercise in informing and enlightening the public in the face of a general lack of understanding. Such exercises in explaining are so accepted a part of Mormonism however that we perhaps fail to reflect on how very peculiar they are for a church that calls itself Christian.

Of course, every organisation produces publicity these days, even local Evangelical churches having their own web sites, blogs etc. but, where other churches tell the gospel and advertise church programmes, the Mormon Church seems to be constantly fighting a rearguard action against misunderstandings and misconceptions. This is all the more puzzling for a church that has a professional Public Affairs Committee, local, regional and global publicity initiatives and a relentless programme of self-promotion. If Mormonism is "restored" Christianity one might expect a great deal more familiarity among the general populace as well as other Christians. Why does the Mormon Church continually have to “explain” itself? Who is causing the apparent confusion? It might be said that no other church has to go to such lengths to disabuse people of apparent "misconceptions" regarding what they believe or to explain what they claim to believe.

A Christian Church with a clear message doesn't need a style guide and a barrow load of explanations and corrections. The message of a Christian Church is clear, biblical and accessible to all.

So what's with the Reachout Trust style guide? Well, you have to laugh sometimes or you'll go crazy dealing with this stuff.

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