The CB radio preacher

Ken Frank
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I thought I had heard it all on the CB radio until the other day when an argument ensued after a preacher/trucker began proclaiming his message of salvation on Channel 19 – the CB channel used by truckers to get traffic and "Smokey" reports.

For many years I have used a CB radio in my car to gather road reports from truckers warning about snarled traffic ahead. In that time I've heard much personal chit-chat and in recent years even started to hear commercial messages from shops along interstate highways selling CB equipment, which is supposed to be against FCC regulations (as originally legislated at least). But enforcement on CB radio seems to be a thing of the past, for nowadays every word in the book is used freely on these public airwaves without penalty.

What made this particular conversation thought-provoking was the disconnect of an "offended" trucker to the other's preachings. The preacher gave his message every few miles, calling upon his listeners to give their lives to Jesus – I guess hoping to get positive replies. Instead, a couple of respondents vehemently answered in language a sailor could admire.

One said something to the effect, "I thought this Bible-thumpin' (blankety-blank) belonged only in church." The other insultingly called the preacher foul names using the most "forbidden" English word. The preacher replied to this cursing critic that the devil had his profaning tongue – which I thought was a pretty good comeback. This only exacerbated the debate, prompting the enraged challenger to retort with a similar line, but this time doubly voiced and more "colorfully" elucidated.

As my wife and I heard this dialogue unfold, I said to her, "One driver says preaching only belongs in church and not on the CB radio. But the preacher could equally reply that profanity, once confined mostly to barrooms, is not permitted on CB either." The irreverent critic did not comprehend that he was offering an inconsistent message: "It's alright to use every sacrilegious word in the book for all of us CBers to hear whether we want to or not, yet it is intolerable for a man to use the same channel to talk about God, the Bible, sin, judgment and salvation."

The problem is that many Americans cloister "God talk" to one hour in church on Sunday. They have never understood that a person's relationship to God has no time limits. For example, notice these words from a modern paraphrase of the Bible:

"Listen, Israel! The Lord our God is the only true God! So love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength. Memorize his laws and tell them to your children over and over again. Talk about them all the time, whether you're at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning" (Deuteronomy 6:4-7 CEV).

Though I disagreed with some of the theology of the preacher, it was refreshing to hear biblical terminology in contrast to the vulgarity of many drivers. As a modern nation in western civilization, we Americans have become too complacent in accepting "free speech" of every blue word. We have grown accustomed to hearing God's name taken in vain at every turn – even from the "fairer sex." For some reason, many girls and young women often begin their speech with; "Oh my god" and listeners don't even wince. Such misuse of God's name would not be tolerated in many Islamic nations. But in "Christian America" it is the norm. Listen to the prophet Jeremiah: "My people, were you ashamed because you did these disgusting things? No, you were not ashamed at all; you don't even know how to blush! And so you will fall as others have fallen; when I punish you that will be the end of you. I, the Lord, have spoken" (Jeremiah 8:12 GNB).

We ought to consider instead what a psalmist prayed on this issue: "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer" (Psalm 19:14).

If preaching doesn't belong on the CB, neither does profanity. We can't have it both ways. If we Americans, who prize our freedom of speech, are going to tolerate demoralized conversation on the airwaves, then, to be fair to all, we will also have to tolerate "God talk" in the public venue. After all, freedom of speech means we can say even what makes us squirm.

If you would like to know more about God's way of life, ask for our free booklet The Ten Commandments.

  Originally Published: 31st August 2007