Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Gospel Today Issue Pulled From Lifeway

We failed to report on the other big news headliner for the month of September, but still felt it was of great importance to discuss it. During the height of a heavy political season and with an turbulent market and economy on our hands, Lifeway Christian Bookstores - one of the largest U.S. chains of Christian books, magazines, film and other media resources - made it an effort to pull the Fayetteville, Georgia based Gospel Today Magazine from its shelves during the months of September and October. The reason behind their decision had little with the book's popularity and everything to do with the five smiling women embracing its September/October issue. Five popular and influential women pastors, dressed in black and resting on church pews, embraced the front cover - including Pastor Tamara Bennett, Pastor Claudette Copeland, Bishop Millicent Turner. Pastor Sheryl Brady and Pastor Kimberly Ray. The store, owned by the Southern Baptist Convention, decided not to display the issue on its stores' shelves due to their belief and policies that restricts the role of a pastor to men.

“It’s really kind of sad when you have people like [Gov.] Sarah Palin and [Sen.] Hillary Clinton providing encouragement and being role models for women around the world that we have such a divergent opinion about women who are able to be leaders in the church,” Gospel Today's publisher Teresa Hairston said. “We weren’t trying to pick a fight. We just did a story on an emerging trend in a lot of churches.”

Lifeway will still carry the controversial issue but will be sold after customer request. Meaning you must walk up to the front counter and ask for it. While behind-the-counter items are quite familiar in retail because of a number of issues ranging from low-volume quantities to high demand, from high-theft reasons to age prevention, the bold hypocrisy of Lifeway Christian Stores for their reasons to hide their merchandise from the public is a baffling subject for discussion.

Here's the problem that arises to the surface. If you don't agree with the magazine and its point-of-view, pull the magazine PERIOD. But Lifeway doesn't exactly pull the magazine for good. They also didn't just pull the issue. The magazine is still available for purchase, but you have to ask for it...because it's sitting behind the service desk. One thing's for sure: it is apparent that the Southern Baptists aren't too crazy to miss out on a good sale. Now I wonder what else is behind that service desk for sale that's not on the shelf.


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