The public relations committee of the 3,400-member Sligo Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Takoma Park has embarked on a newspaper advertising campaign to build a favorable image of Adventists.
The program is being worked out by Tony Romeo, an Adventist adman who works for Doyle, Dane and Bernbach, one of the largest of the Madison Avenue firms.
"Adventists are constantly being confused with other groups, said Romeo from his New York office. "A lot of these religions have bad press. We don't want our name mixed up with other people; we want to become a distinctive voice in the world."
Under the headline, "Why you should consider praying before eating a meal like this . . . Pray you don't get sick," the first of the planned monthly ads appeared in the June 14 editions of The Washington Post. The illustration showed a meal consisting of a hamburger, french fries, a cup of coffee, a piece of cake with icing and a sweet dairy drink.
"We want the public to understand the Adventist life stylee," said the church's public relations secretary, Joan Adams earlier this week. "We don't plan to go into our theology or anything of that nature."
Adventists, according to the finer print in the ad, eat natural foods without chemicals and statistics show they live seven years longer than the rest of the population. An estimated 60 percent of Adventists are vegetarians.
A series of ads will run monthly in The Post and in the Montgomery County Sentinel and the Montgomery County Journal, said Adams.
Both Romeo and Adams insist that the ads are not designed directly to increase membership. The ad does mention the time and place of Adventist seminars on nutrition.
"We're worried that if the congregation doesn't see immediate results they won't want to shell out all this money every month," said Romeo.
Next month's scheduled ad shows a young boy watching television, asking "Where do morals come from?" The fine print suggests that Biblical stories might be a good supplement to the murder and mayhem on the tube.