Every once in a while, some rumor begins circulating about a connection between a well-known company and the forces of evil. As tempting as it is to believe such things, they’re usually based on the notion of hidden clues, which is always suspect. When I was a sophomore in high school, my history teacher mentioned some then-current rumor that Snapple was blatantly racist, with a “K” on the bottle standing for “Ku Klux Klan,” and a slave ship appearing on the label. The K actually stood for “kosher,” and I’m not sure what the ship was, but I don’t think they still use it. Apparently one of the most popular rumors of this sort, which has been around in some form or other since the late seventies or so, is the connection between Procter & Gamble and the Church of Satan. Yes, the story is that washing your clothes with Tide is a sign of support for the Prince of Darkness. The main item used as proof was the logo P&G used at the time, which depicted the Man in the Moon and thirteen stars.
The stars represented the thirteen original American colonies, but the rumors tied it to the mention of the moon and thirteen stars in Revelation 12:1. Actually, that’s TWELVE stars in the passage, and the woman wearing them is an enemy of Satan, but who’s counting?
Apparently the rumor-mongers are, as they also saw the number 666 in the moon, and decided its two points represented a ram’s horns. Despite the obvious absurdity here, P&G discontinued the logo in 1985, which rather strikes me as caving in to the idiots. The rumor persisted despite the lack of the logo, however, as did a tale that the President of P&G (which is, by the way, a publicly traded corporation) appeared on Donahue and announced right on the show that he was giving a large portion of the company’s profits to the Church of Satan. The date when this supposedly occurred kept changing, with a widely circulated e-mail in 1997 saying it had occurred in 1994, twelve years after Donahue had first declared the story to be a hoax. A lot of the rumors turned out to have been spread by Amway, but I’m not sure whether they came up with it in the first place.
So why does this rumor persist, and why hadn’t I heard of it until fairly recently? I guess the latter is because I just don’t move in the right circles, but the former likely has something to do with apocalyptic Christians WANTING there to be evidence that Satan is running things, because that means the end is near. This page cites Jeff Siemon of Search Ministries as saying, “When we think of hoaxes that relate to conspiracies that are being concocted against Christianity — in the case of Madalyn Murray O’Hair or Procter & Gamble — this is in some sense consistent with the Biblical understanding that a great war rages at a spiritual level.” Also, it often seems to be the case that even an obviously false rumor can still taint a person or organization’s reputation. Take the story about Richard Gere’s bizarre fetish, which was allegedly made up by Sylvester Stallone. Obviously bunk, but damned if the first thing I think of when I hear the name “Richard Gere” isn’t gerbils.