Naming rights
March 9 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Naming rights | Friday, March 9, 2001

Friday, March 9, 2001

Naming rights

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor The issue of "naming rights" is often in the news these days, as commercialism probes ever deeper into public life. Sports stadiums, performing arts centers and even hospitals have taken on the corporate names of patrons in return for gazillions of dollars. Rare is the college campus that doesn't have at least one major building or sports field named for a major donor. Sporting events on television are replete with commercial sponsorships, from Nike swooshes on amateur athletic uniforms, to corporate names for college football bowls, to the speeding billboards of NASCAR racing.

In Charlotte, the Panthers play in Ericsson Stadium, though patrons presumably may still use Nokia or Motorola cell phones.

In Raleigh, the new "Entertainment and Sports Arena" still awaits its corporate name - not because suitors aren't standing by with the money, but because the various parties with ownership interests can't decide how to split the pot. I prefer the "Pack House" or the "Ice House" (depending on whether the Wolfpack or the Hurricanes are playing), but one day it could be the "Tyson Chicken House" or the "Murphy Farms Pig Pen" for all I know.

All the excitement over naming rights led me to wonder if we might be able to recruit corporate sponsorship for the Biblical Recorder. Maybe a good North Carolina firm would take us on. For a million bucks a year, we could become the "Burlington Mills Biblical Recorder," or "the Biblical Recorder by Broyhill," and have enough income to provide 100,000 free subscriptions. Failing that, perhaps we could find sponsors for individual pages, like "the Microsoft Front Page," "the North Carolina Pork Producers Opinion Pages," "the CNN.com National Page" or "the Sharp Copiers Church Events Page." Taking a cue from some of our public schools, maybe we could get Coke and Pepsi in a bidding war for the children and youth pages.

Then again, maybe not.

I found myself wondering how open churches might be to corporate sponsorship. There are already a few churches around that are named for major donors or families. It's quite common for churches to sell naming rights for stained glass windows, pulpit furniture and hymnbooks. I once spoke to a Sunday School class whose lectern was embellished with a large bronze plaque so thick that my notes wouldn't stay put.

Church furnishings are commonly named for faithful members, usually in recognition of a contribution from family or friends who want to honor them. But what if a church needed to expand and a local company offered to pay half the cost in return for naming rights? Wouldn't we at least be tempted to erect a "First Federal Family Life Center" or a "Barnes & Noble Education Building"?

What if sponsorship got more personal? Can you imagine how pastors might dress if they got lucrative shoe or necktie contracts? Try to visualize the minister of music intoning, with great dignity, "Let us pause for the 'B.C. Headache Powders Pastoral Prayer.'"

I don't think so.

Of course, there is one area in which naming rights have been bought and paid for long ago. The price was paid on the cross, and the name was first used, according to Acts 11:26, in Antioch. Those who follow Christ bear the name "Christians." True brand loyalty is not displayed by the slogans on our T-shirts or the cross around our necks, but in the fruit of our living.

When you've been named by the name that is above every name, you don't ask what you'll get, but what you can give.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
3/9/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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