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Spread the Word – But Who’s Going to Pay For It?

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The thunderstorm currently pummeling the environs feels like the wrath of God – perhaps He is angry with file sharers:

    Does “thou shalt not steal” mean “Thou shalt not download”? Just like other computer-savvy listeners, evangelical Christians swipe songs off the Net – and Christian labels have watched their fortunes dwindle. Sales in the $845 million industry have fallen 11 percent this year, worse than secular music’s 8 percent decline.

    Christian-music companies are looking for a faith-based solution. “For us, more than it’s illegal, it’s wrong,” says John Styll, president of the Gospel Music Association, which launched a task force last month to address the problem. One suggested approach: getting pastors and youth-group leaders to preach against the spiritual perils of downloading.

    But as the Rev. Paul Durham, pastor of Nashville’s Radnor Baptist Church, points out, many Christian-music listeners think of file-swapping as sharing God’s message. “It’s like a ministry,” he says. That’s how Marlee Welsh, 18, of Bethesda, Md., sees it. “You’re supposed to receive and spread God’s word,” she says, “and by that I don’t think downloading is stealing.” Darren Whitehead, youth minister at the People’s Church in Franklin, Tenn., questions the morality of file sharing, but he hopes that “spreading the Gospel takes priority for the music companies over profit – assuming that they’re Christian.”

    Music companies say they can’t be expected to give away the store. “Honestly, it almost always comes down to money,” says Bill Hearn, head of EMI Christian Music Group – but among the faithful, he notes, “that’s a dicey subject.” The GMA has ruled out a fire-and-brimstone approach to its anti-piracy campaign. “It’s good people that are doing this,” says BMG executive Terry Hemmings, a member of the association’s task force. “We’re not going to say, ‘You’re ungodly and you’re going to hell because you’re file sharing’.” [MSNBC]

Hmm, fascinating – interdoctrinal conflict. I wonder how many Christians will choose the doctrine that lets them do what they want to do? If hearing Christian music saves one soul, isn’t that worth all the money lost by file sharing? Can the value of a soul be quantified?

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