September 10, 2015: “I turned it into an art experiment,” wrote Greg Adomaitis, a journalist for NJ.com in the New Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia after a 378-page paperback entitled The Great Controversy arrived in his mailbox along with 700,000 other homes in the tri-state metropolitan area the week of August 24. It was mailed by Remnant Publications, an independent ministry based in Michigan and included an appeal for donations and encouraged recipients to purchase gift copies for friends outside the area, according to Adomaitis.
The book “addresses preaching the ‘persecution of God’s faithful children’ and how the past shapes the purpose of life,” the journalist wrote. The 42-chapter book “dates back to the 1858 religious writings of Ellen G. White, who would go on to form the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.” He quoted the promotional piece inserted with the book; it “will help readers understand issues at stake in an ‘impending conflict’ and why the reader ‘cannot remain neutral’ [as they] learn about the geographic ties to historic religious events.” He reports that it is available on Glenn Beck’s web site, a controversial political commentator not affiliated with the Adventist faith.
Those who raised the funds for this mailing, which could be as much as a half million dollars, “wanted it to coincide with Pope Francis’ visit next month,” another reporter at BillyPenn.com quoted Dwight Hall, the Adventist who owns Remnant Publications. “When you’ve got such power and you’re getting into politics, that scares a lot of people,” Hall said in reference to the Pope.
More than a third of the nearly six million residents of the Philadelphia metropolitan area are Catholics, according to the United States Census of Religion for 2010, compiled by the statistical officers of the nation’s religious denominations. Just six percent are from conservative Protestant faiths, including 12,762 Adventist adherents. (Adherents includes children not old enough to be baptized and non-members who attend regularly, as well as church members.) That is one Adventist for every 467 residents, well above the one to 15 ratio in Jamaica, for example or the one to 20 ratio in Zambia.
Adomaitis reported that Remnant Publications aims at distributing 10 million copies of the book. It has already done so in New York City, Washington DC, San Francisco and Charlotte, North Carolina. Hall told the journalist that “many lives … have been transformed forever” by the book, although no research is available on the impact of these mailings. Residents have “taken to Twitter … to vent frustrations about [the lack of] ways of opting out” of the mailings, Adomaitis wrote.