UPDATE 20/9: I have come across another page on the JAAL website with a bit more information on the research behind the campaign. You can also download a $50, 26-page report that details the research that informed the campaign.
Matt posted a comment recently, asking about the research that had been conducted as to how people in our communities might respond to the signs. Part of what he said was: “Have the promoters researched and considered how the community will see these signs?” Whilst I’m not sure what research was undertaken regarding the signs per se, I came across a document on the JAAL website (it’s available at http://www.jesusallaboutlife.com.au/campaigns/sydney.html and the text for the link to download says ‘tester’, near the bottom of the page or just download here), that includes a summary of the research behind the campaign.
Below is an excerpt from that document (both the text in the block quote, and the para beneath it, i.e. everything that follows – just to avoid any confusion about who is saying what!).
“The research revealed that Christianity is widely rejected by most non-Christians as an anachronistic and undesirably rigid set of doctrines, while the Church is widely regarded as an old-fashioned organisation that is guilty of failing to live up to its own ideals of tolerance, forgiveness and humility.
While we may wish to present Christian faith in God as a distinct and intrinsically good idea, it is practically impossible to make any reference to Christian faith, Christ’s teachings or the Bible without immediately eliciting negative associations surrounding the Christian Church and its doctrines.
Most non-Christians believe that they already live in accordance with essential Christian values, and do not need either to accept articles of Christian faith or participate in Christian worship to fulfill the basic requirement that qualify someone as being ‘a good person’, such as ‘do unto others’ and ‘love thy neighbour’.
The commonly and often unwittingly accepted principle of secular humanism is that individuals need to look inwards in search of personal meaning and fulfillment, a never-ending search directed towards realising your full potential, rather than a process that leads to some final, ‘ideal’ state of consciousness.
At a more fundamental level, non-Christians tend to reject the idea of ‘one truth’ as a divisive concept that is to blame for much of the conflict in the world today, and that clashes with the secular humanist ideal of taking personal responsibility for lifestyle choices and interpersonal values.
Against this background of attitudes and beliefs, the response to ‘born-again’ Christian testimonials tends to be overwhelmingly negative:
- to accept Christ as the only way to find meaning in life represent a failure to accept personal responsibility or realise self-awareness
- to accept Christian beliefs as the ultimate truth is to reject contemporary ideals of multicultural tolerance and openness to new ideas
(Angus Kinnard – Futurebrand)
Our research shows that sharing the Gospel in the Australian community needs to be done thoughtfully and carefully, connecting with people and stirring them to consider the message. It is not about pandering to them or watering down the message or humanising the gospel, it is about being thoughtful in how we communicate.”