A Christian youth project in Sheffield has been threatened with legal action by an American Christian television station because its name is already registered by the station.
As reported by Richard Hall at Connexions and the eChurch Christian Blog, the broadcaster INSP has threatened the Streelroots youth project which works in the S17 (Dore) area of Sheffield with legal action unless they “cease and desist” from using the name immediately.
INSP (short for “The Inspirational Network”) is a large Christian broadcaster in the US which says on its website “We believe it is important to encourage people in their walk of faith while meeting their desire to be entertained. We are compelled to bring a new voice to television, one that celebrates the joys of faith, family, and the freedoms that are uniquely ours”. They have a website called Steelroots aimed at youth and proclaiming that it is “revealing the truth to today’s generation”. It has very little reach in the UK.
The other Steelroots is a youth project set up by a few local churches in an outlying area of Sheffield. It says “We are about being a community of young people that brings the best out of young people in S17, helps them to realise their potential and involve them in the wider community. We want all these individuals to to hear about the Christian faith and have an opportunity to respond to it, but we are also committed to loving and supporting them regardless.”
Steelroots seems a wholly appropriate name – Sheffield is otherwise known as Steel City, roots are where you come from and have an echo of the parable of the sower, and the whole thing gives the impression of solid foundations.
What is tragic is a large, supposedly Christian organisation taking on a small local project in such a heavyhanded and, frankly unchristian way (see 1 Corinthians 6:1-8) . Could a friendly approach not have been taken? More generally worrying is the question – where does your church or youth group or project stand in this? The last time your church set up a project – youth club, children’s work, drama group – did you check the legal status of the name? The chances are you probably don’t even know how, and it has never occurred to you that you might have to – all you know is that there is nothing similar in the neighbourhood!
What do you think about this? Has your church checked the legal status of the names it uses?