Evangelism Exposed

“Jesus wept.” Joh 11:35

WWJB: What Would Jesus Buy?

Faith Can Mean Big Business With Items Like T-Shirts, Dolls and Mints

Aug. 10, 2008

Worship has a new look now that the Bible, God and church have become commodities. From the Bible Bar to Holy bottled water, to quench your spiritual hunger and thrust, some marketers are selling religious merchandise in the hopes of spreading their faith.

But this 21st century way of approaching the relationship between God and man is not what some are used to. The thought that consumers can buy a bobblehead Jesus to act as a co-pilot, or attend Florida’s Holy Land theme park when they’re looking to blend faith and vacation, troubles critics.

Christian commodities are big business.

“Turning everything religious into a little plastic toy can cheapen religion, trivialize it,” said Beliefnet.com editor in chief, Steve Waldman. “The other danger is that people will think that by wearing a “Jesus is my homeboy” t-shirt, that that by itself makes them a good Christian.”

Critics question if the commercialization of religion is really what Jesus would do, but even Waldman said he sees a way the God-related products could help spread the faith.

“One of the purposes of Evangelicalism is to spread the word. So, wearing a t-shirt or a bracelet that brings Jesus’ messages to other people is actually part of the faith,” Waldman said.

Behind the “Jesus Saves” hats and ties, the t-shirts and the candy, is someone who says they’re not in this to make money, but to spread their faith.

The people behind the products believe they are what Jesus would buy.

“All of our products are based on the scriptures, on the Bible. We believe that the core to everything that we’re doing is the Bible,” said president and CEO Bill Anderson, of the Association for Christian Retail.

And it all equals big business. At the International Christian Retail Show last month in Orlando, Fla., the product displays stretched so far, they would have filled eight football fields.

The sale of Christian books, bibles, music, and items falling into that more dubious category of “other” is a $4.6 billion a year business. But not everyone agrees that the best way to spread the word of God is with a shoe insole or a Testamint.

“We’re a candy company, but we’re really a message company. We use the candy as a vehicle to get the message out,” said a woman selling Scripture Candy.

But evangelicals are not alone in their kitsch. The Buddha was commercialized long ago, and the Pope John Paul II bottle opener is certainly not used for communion.

“Oftentimes, religion is viewed as judgmental, and it’s all about what a bad person you are, and it’s very forbidding. And so, things like this that have a sense of humor simply are making religion more accessible,” Waldman said.


August 12, 2008 - Posted by | Jesus Toys

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