The Interconnected World of Christian Media and Why When They Hurt, We Hurt
A friend asks you what you work at. You might say, “I’m in the Christian bookstore business.” Or you might say, “I work in Christian Publishing.”
But we’re also dependent on — as they depend on us — the world of Christian periodicals and websites (they review the books and music we sell), Christian television (they interview our authors), Christian radio (they play the music we carry) and Christian concert promotion (they bring the artists to our cities, or one nearby). We also help them by carrying their magazines, referring people to their websites, promoting their TV shows, directing people to local Christian radio, and putting up posters and selling tickets for Christian concerts.
But when people in one of those industries are hurting, we hurt, too.
A case in point is the cancellation of the Newsboys concert last week in Toronto.
- This sends a signal to other US Christian bands that Canada might not be worth the hassle.
- It sends a bad signal to Christian kids, depending on what they hear. They might feel their favourite artist did something bad, or it might engender a dislike for the Canadian government.
- It impacts the Christian concert promoter and all the ancillary organizations that stood to benefit from the concert. In the Toronto area, it probably affects some CD sales at stores like ours.
- It means a few thousand kids didn’t get the spiritual benefit from the concert,
perhapsdefinitely this represents a few first-time commitments to Christ that never happened.
Anyway, if you missed this, here’s what we ran last week at Thinking Out Loud, which includes a link to the April cancellation, and the full statement by the band…
Back in April, we reported on the cancellation of The Newsboys concert in Toronto, Canada.
This week, lightning struck twice in the same place, despite the due diligence done by the band. Should Christian bands simply forget about trying to get into Canada? I don’t want to be sensationalist, but it makes you wonder what the backlash from this might be as the word spreads. Here’s the announcement this time around; this time sharing the full text of what the band wrote, posted at the promoter’s website:
September 21, 2016
Dear Toronto Newsboys fans,
It is with our deepest regrets that we have been forced to announce the cancellation of our Toronto concert tomorrow, Thursday Sept. 22nd. This cancellation is a direct result of the Canadian Border authorities blatant disregard for the policies and procedures of legally crossing the border, and we feel an explanation to our fans is in order.
As you may know, in April we attempted to cross the border to perform for you at Church on the Queensway. This crossing was just like the 5 other times we have crossed since 2009. We worked for weeks in advance of our arrival to provide all the necessary paperwork to make the crossing as smooth as possible. As we attempted our initial entry, Michael was told that he had a 9-year old traffic violation on his record and because of it, they were not going to allow him entry. We were told that he would need to take the appropriate steps to fix this issue, and as such, we were forced to postpone the show a few months while we sorted it out.
This shocked us, as we have been to Canada to perform for you several times prior, and not once was this issue raised. Regardless, as we are instructed Biblically, we respected the authorities’ decision and immediately hired attorney’s in the US and Canada to work to resolve this issue, and we rescheduled the concert for our fall tour. After 3 months and hundreds of hours, and an extensive financial investment, the lawyers were confident that Michael had done all he was asked and so yesterday, Michael flew to Toronto to attempt re-entry, this time with an 80-page document supporting his request for clearance. Michael even went 48 hours earlier so he would have plenty of time to present his case. Unfortunately, the border agents refused to accept his explanations, and once again denied him entrance, this time without even an adequate explanation of the denial.
To say we are shocked beyond belief is an understatement, and we are extremely disappointed in the agent’s decision. Obviously the agents have the serious task of protecting your nation, and we respect that, but the decisions of these two agents was made unilaterally and without merit, going against the stated laws and regulations that our attorneys were instructed to follow. It is extremely disheartening to spend all the time and resources we did, only to have it come down to how the agent “feels” and decides.
Ultimately, we are most disappointed that we will not be allowed to come share our songs and our ministry with our fans, but as we are reminded in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” We may never know the true reasons behind this decision, but we do know God has a plan for all of us, and we rest assured in the love He has for His children. We will continue to vigorously work to clear this issue so that one day we can return and celebrate with you, but we feel until this is 100% cleared up, it is only right to refund your ticket purchases.
Thank you for your understanding and may God be with each and every one of you!
Michael, Duncan, Jeff and Jody
This time around, there is no mention of a future concert. The promoter, Premiere Productions had nothing about the cancellation on their blog.
As a Canadian, this totally infuriates me. All over, “a 9-year old traffic violation.” This band is an international Christian ministry with a solid reputation. Were other forces at work here? What does this say to Christian kids in Canada about their government?
Much of what happened may have been at the whim of one border employee. Thousands of kids were impacted. Is it worth sending the article link to your MP? A thing like this gets no mainstream press.
It shouldn’t have happened the first time.
It shouldn’t have happened twice.