Christians have been rocked today by yet another attack on our freedom to express our religious beliefs.
International chocolate giant Cadbury has taken steps to prevent Christians from using the colour purple to signify advent, in a move which has angered bishops in their ecclesiastical Cadbury-coloured cassocks.
…Or so you would think if you read the headlines and not the story that appeared in The Telegraph and elsewhere today.
The facts are these: Intellectual property lawyers have cautioned The Meaningful Chocolate Company that wrapping their fair-trade Christmas tree chocolates in purple foil “could be infringing Cadbury’s rights”.
That’s it. No injunctions, no fleets of lawyers bearing down on the Manchester-based firm’s factories, no angry Quakers splashing red paint over printing presses, just a quiet word of wise advice. Cadbury have done nothing. So far as I know they weren’t even aware of the issue (or, quite possibly, The Meaningful Chocolate Company) before they were approached for comment. They certainly took no action over the infringement of their copyright that the company enacted last year.
According to The Telegraph,
The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell, last night urged Cadbury [yes, the Cadbury who have said and done nothing] to ease the restriction, warning that it could “demean” itself by being “precious” about the colour.
I think, My Lord, you may need to turn that pointing finger around!
Sure, if Cadbury were saying you were no longer allowed to wear purple robes, crosses could not be draped in purple cloth during lent, or any other appearance of the colour purple on church property was henceforth prohibited, then you might have a point. You can’t however, produce chocolates wrapped in a colour similar to the most famous chocolate brand in the country without at least checking the copyright rules.
Kicking up a fuss about utterly inconsequential issues makes you look petty and further erodes your credibility when the time comes to speak out on the issues that really do matter. Christians need to engage with the world and the media in ways that demonstrate grace, love, generosity – and at least a basic grasp of the facts!
Bishop Cottrell would do well to heed his own warning:
Fighting some battles, even ones you win, can actually be demeaning. Far better to be generous, then no one loses.
Updated 14:23 on 10 Oct to further clarify that Cadbury have taken no action whatsoever in this (non)issue.