By Staff

It’s hard for spiritual leaders to compete with YouTube, eBay, and HBO-On-Demand. In a culture focused on the instant gratification of consumerism, messages of piety and sanctity don’t win people’s devotion–a quandary that’s sent many Christian leaders too far down the consumerist rabbit hole, writes

A church in Houston partnered with McDonald’s, which built a franchise on the church grounds. Other churches have partnered with Starbucks. That’s not to mention churches with ATMs and those that offer some form of refreshment–coffee and doughnuts, fruit, and bottled water. Gone are the hard, wooden benches and the suit and tie. Nowadays the seating is plush, the dress more casual, pipe organs replaced with synthetic drums and electric guitars. All this is fair game, proponents say, necessary to help the church compete in a crowded market.

At the root of Bass’s polemic against the “theological popcorn” being peddled today is the idea that there’s a crisis of spirituality in America. People are simultaneously attracted and repulsed by slick ad campaigns, and rather than offering a viable alternative, houses of worship are simply taking a page from the marketer’s playbook to get butts in the pews. 

Bass never really gets into what that alternative would look like, really. Though Geez, the magazine of “holy mischief,” hints toward an out with a letter from a former vendor of Christian merchandise. While hawking her “Christian-ish” wares, the writer became uneasy profiting off bible verses devoted to Doc Martens and Birkenstock sandals. She’s now renounced her pseudo-spiritual business and thanks Geez for the inspiration.

Bennett Gordon

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