Sunday, August 02, 2009

The issue of copying sermons, re-visited

In the post Online sermon databases raise questions about plagiarism, JEFF STRICKLER re-visits a topic previously covered on IPBiz [ eg, SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2006: Pastors who plagiarize with pride? and]

Strickler's article includes the text:

“We used to trade information face to face; now we do it online,” said the Rev. Dave Ridder, dean of Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. “But that raises the question of when does borrowing cross the line, and that can be a very thin line to walk. We encourage students to acknowledge the source of an idea, even if they make it their own. They owe that to the congregation.”

Some congregations are unforgiving. “I have heard of ministers getting fired for this,” Ridder said. “Their congregations say, ‘If you’re just going to read someone else’s writing, what are we paying you for?’ ”

The topic of legal studies arose:

“It’s like law students looking at case studies,” Ridder said. Through the online services, seminary students “can learn from the best by studying and analyzing the work of some of the most successful preachers in the country. We’ve always encouraged students to go out and listen to other preachers. Now they can do it online.”

IPBiz reminds readers of what Alan Dershowitz said of law in defense of Laurence Tribe, something to the effect that law had a culture of copying without attribution. Rev. Ridder should be careful in making any analogies to what people do in law!


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