by Monte Sahlin
By AT News Team, April 30, 2014
Despite a court order, the Eternal Gospel Church in West Palm Beach, Florida, has identified itself with the Seventh-day Adventists in a two-page ad in the San Francisco Examiner on Sunday (April 27). A news release from the same organization identified it as a “Seventh-day Adventist Newspaper Ad.” It remains to be seen if the denomination will respond with litigation as it has in the past.
The news release also stated that the ad “is stirring up a debate on the Biblical Sabbath,” although Adventist Today has found no evidence of debate. It does not appear that any other religious group has responded to the ad at all. The out-dated design used in the ad and the large volume of verbiage make it difficult to read.
“Because it is so out of sync with today’s standards of advertizing design, it is unlikely that 99 percent of newspaper readers will give it a second glance,” an ad manager at a Midwest daily paper told Adventist Today. “They most likely will not even know what the topic is.”
The paper in which the ad was published has a long and proud history, once serving as the flagship of the Hearst newspaper chain. The publisher, William Randolph Hearst, was immortalized in the movie Citizen Kane. But during the 21st century it has slipped significantly. It is a tabloid that is distributed as a throwaway in the city, with a circulation of about 75,000 during the week and 255,000 on Sundays.
The major daily paper in San Francisco today is The Chronicle, which has the largest circulation of any newspaper on the West Coast. It sells 224,000 copies daily and 286,000 on Sundays.
"The ad is part of a nationwide campaign to educate and warn the public that Sunday laws will become more and more dangerous to religious liberty," said Pastor Raphael Perez, leader of the Eternal Gospel Church, in the news release.
He claims that similar ads have appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Miami Herald and 250 other newspapers, although Adventist Today was not able to confirm any of these.
Perez believes that a Sunday law will be voted because of “efforts to save our culture and family structures from completely deteriorating.” He is identified in the news release as “a former Catholic who once attended a Roman Catholic Seminary” and a "Seventh-day Adventist believer."
The ad concludes with a $1,000 offer to anyone who can produce a Bible verse that states that Jesus or His disciples transferred the solemnity of the seventh-day Sabbath to Sunday. This has been a common, although controversial gimmick used by some Adventist evangelists over the years. “It is generally considered to be among the methods that Ellen White condemned as ‘debate’ these days,” a veteran Adventist evangelist told Adventist Today.
The Eternal Gospel Church is a small congregation not affiliated with any denomination. It has been engaged in legal battles with the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination for over 20 years over the unauthorized use of the denomination’s name.