Many publications fill the bottom of their columns with a bold-face statement, “Patronize our Advertisers.” But whether or not a magazine says so explicitly, every publication wants you to patronize its advertisers. If you don’t, they stop advertising. BAR, too, wants you to patronize our advertisers. Their advertisements make our magazine more interesting. They provide you with useful information about worthwhile products and services. Without the income from these advertisements, we could not do all the things BAR does.

Having said all this—you may already know what I am going to say now—BAR is different. We have distinctive problems. We try to find principled solutions. And we struggle with our dilemmas in public. In at least one instance, we are going to advise our readers not to patronize an advertiser. (Has any other magazine ever done that?)

In our letters column, we print six letters criticizing us for accepting particular ads. (Most magazines would regard printing such letters as biting the hand that feeds you.) These ads appeared in our BAR 16:02 issue. They included an ad for a wall chart called the World History Chart, featuring the dates of past events, and an ad insert for information on the abortion controversy. In the May/June issue we printed a letter objecting to an ad for a book entitled Gospel Fictions. (See “Objects to Ad,” Queries & Comments, BAR 16:03.)

The World History Chart, published by International Timeline, Inc., of Vienna, Virginia, is an especially interesting case. This ad appears in numerous magazines—Discover, Saturday Evening Post, The Atlantic, Popular Science, Foreign Affairs, Omni—and in the popular magazine published by the Archaeological Institute of America, Archaeology. (Archaeology magazine is the second largest circulation archaeological magazine in the world; BAR is the largest.) No doubt, the same people who long ago wrote us objecting to the Timeline ad in BARd also wrote to other magazines in which the ad appeared. Their objection was that the World History Chart advertisement was deceptive because it included dates of events such as the arrival of the Jaredites in the New World from the area of the Tower of Babel in about 2220 B.C. and the Nephite landing in the New World in about 600 B.C., which are recorded only in Mormon texts. So far as we are aware, only BAR printed letters objecting to this ad. We not only printed the letters, we looked into the complaint. From an objective, scientific viewpoint, it seemed to us that listing the date of the Nephite landing in the New World was the same as listing the date of the Flood that Noah and his family survived by floating in the ark. To each event, there are those who are committed by faith; objective evidence of when or whether these events occurred is lacking, however. Yet there is a difference between them. No one wrote us calling the ad deceptive because it listed the date of the Flood as c. 2345 B.C. Acceptance of the Flood as a historical event is far more widespread than the date of the Nephite landing in North America. Therefore, it seemed to us that we should print a notice accompanying this ad telling our readers of the inclusion of these dates, even though the dates of events deriving from Mormon belief are only a very small fraction of the dates on the chart. Needless to say, no other magazine prints this kind of notice in connection with this ad or makes this kind of requirement of an advertiser. We should also note that International Timeline, Inc. willingly accepts this notice, and apparently our readers find the World History Chart useful (the company continues to advertise) even though it lists some events recorded only in Mormon texts. (International Timeline, Inc., by the way, describes itself as a privately owned company with no connection to the Mormon church.)

Turning to the ad for the book entitled Gospel Fictions, it seems to us, the answer is easy. You know what you are getting—no possible deception. If you don’t like the product, don’t buy it. Unlike many other magazines BAR is an open channel of communication. This is true in our articles, in our editorial columns, in our letters—and in our advertising! We don’t ask you to agree with everything in the magazine. It is there for you to accept—or reject! We make ideas available—some good, some not so good. Therefore you, our readers, must think, must make judgments, must question—and then decide. If you are not interested in a book entitled Gospel Fictions, if it offends you, don’t buy it. The same goes, incidentally, for a book entitled Archaeology Proves the Bible, an ad for which appeared in the same issue. (This goes for Deceptions Concerning Yahweh’s Calendar of Events as well, the subject of another ad in the BAR 16:02, which claims to expose the pagan ideas in contemporary religious and political institutions.)

True, it is sometimes not so easy to tell what causes or commitments our advertisers espouse—although the letter from Mr. Budd seems to know the advertisers’ views on the thorny issue of abortion. But, not always being sure of what you are getting is a condition of an open society. If you don’t want to participate in this way in the causes for which your support is solicited in BAR, don’t. You know the rules of the game. Not every book can you tell by its cover. Nevertheless, we have no hesitation in opting for an open society where anyone can tout his/her goods or his/her cause even in what may be regarded as a less than candid way. But we reserve the right to expose deception whenever we find it. We will even print readers’ enlightened comments critical of products that we advertise.

In the case of the abortion advertisement, however, we find no deception. Surely there is much to be said on both sides of this painful issue; any advertiser who wants to involve you in this subject is welcome in the pages of BAR, even if we disagree with the position taken. If you don’t want to take the chance that some publication or some cause espouses views that offend you, don’t buy it or don’t contribute to the cause.

Which brings us to a final category of ads—ads for antiquities.

Although we accept these ads because of our commitment to be an open channel of communication, we nevertheless advise you not to patronize these advertisers. In short, don’t collect.

There are exceptions, such as museums and educational institutions and perhaps some highly sophisticated private collectors. The arguments pro and con are complicated and difficult. On several occasions, we have wrestled with this question in public, exposing our hesitation and doubts.e We have also published a variety of views by others.f The issue relates to site-robbing. Illegally excavated artifacts, it is widely believed, are sold by antiquities dealers; this outlet supports and encourages plunderers.

However, not all dealers trade in plundered pots. Antiquities dealers also provide a valuable service by trading in legal artifacts. More important, if your objective is to reduce illegal excavations, there are other measures to take, much more effective than shutting down antiquities dealers, measures which the archaeological community has foolishly failed to adopt.g

Serious collecting can be a very satisfying as well as educational pursuit. But widespread collecting—especially the casual purchase of an oil lamp or juglet—can and does support illegal excavations. Therefore don’t do it. People with a serious interest in archaeology don’t collect. We hope you won’t either. But we’ll still allow our advertisers to entice you into doing what we believe you should not do.