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It's worse than you think - Elf M. Sternberg
It's worse than you think
You've probably heard recently the big row over Wal-Mart removing certain literature like FHM, Stuff, Maxim, and other "men's" magazines that feature semi-naked women with huge boobs and sultry eyes on their covers. Most of the press has concentrated on Wal-Mart's assertion that they're trying to make themselves a "family friendly place to shop." What you don't know is why Wal-Mart is seeking this family-friendly perception.

Kingdom Ventures is a venture capital company dedicated to the growth and success of evangelical Christian church-based organizations. Their most successful project is the Christian Merchants Association,, a synergistic advertising campaign in which merchants get special advertising and marketing access to churches and churchgoers, and in return the churches get up to 15% of the money their flock spend at these merchants. (I suspect the "up to" is misleading; it's probably 1-2% in most cases.)

You've probably made the connection between those two paragraphs. Wal-Mart is seeking approval to join the Christian Merchants Association. Not only does this give Wal-Mart an advertising vector with high consumer pre-approval ratings, but it also gives Wal-Mart an additional outlet for their wares: the Kingdom Catalog, a "private label, direct mail catalog" distributed only to churchgoers whose churches participate in the CMA.

What you may not know, but what is of interest to those of us in the Seattle area (as well as others), is that another Seattle institution is currently seeking to join the CMA as well. According to this press release from Kingdom Ventures, Costco has also recently been certified as "A Christian merchant."

I'm not about to suggest that anyone modify their buying habits. But knowing about this little detail-- deftly and quietly kept away from the eyes of the non-Evangelical community-- is important.

Current Mood: frustrated frustrated
Current Music: Orbital, Halcyon

10 comments or Leave a comment
omahas From: omahas Date: May 8th, 2003 10:42 am (UTC) (Link)

They can't get their facts straight

If you read the article, you find that they claim that 92% of Americans identify as Christian. I don't know where they get their statistics, but the statistics that I've looked at from here says 76.5%, which is around where I thought it was.
jenk From: jenk Date: May 8th, 2003 04:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: They can't get their facts straight

...minus those who self-identify as Christian but don't go to a church (since their company targets churches who are fund-raising)

...minus those churches who don't identify as evangelical (since their company targets "Evangelicals")
dougs From: dougs Date: May 8th, 2003 11:03 am (UTC) (Link)
A little visit to the Gospel of John, chapter 2 and verses 14-16 is probably in order here.

In the temple courts, he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves ...
... [he said] "How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!"

Matthew 21:12 and Mark 11:15 tell the same story.
riverheart From: riverheart Date: May 8th, 2003 01:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't know if Costco is seeking to join the CMA, or if the CMA is seeking to sign Costco up. This paragraph from CMA's press release makes me wonder (emphases mine):
""Costco and Wal-Mart have been unilaterally pre-approved into our
program because of their strong track record in promoting
Christian products. They are committed to the Christian books and
music category. We believe their focus has been on bestsellers,
and growing the category in the areas where growth is hot.
Wal-Mart and Costco could continue to be the price leaders for
Christian books and music titles, defining the benchmark price
against which other Christian stores will be measured. The
pre-approval enables these companies to join our program at
says Jackson.>

It looks like it's up to Costco to determine whether they want to participate or not. Same with Wal-Mart. Thanks for pointing this out. I'm going to wait to see what Costco does about it before I change my buying strategies.
rubylou From: rubylou Date: May 11th, 2003 02:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm going to wait to see what Costco does about it before I change my buying strategies.

Good for you. So far, neither Costco, Borders, nor Barnes & Noble have accepted their "pre-approval" into this organization. A bit more careful reading (like the one you did---and thanks!) would have made it clear that Costco hasn't accepted. I've found nothing ANYWHERE that says otherwise. Of course, this may change, but Elf jumped the gun a bit on this one.
ottercat From: ottercat Date: May 8th, 2003 02:07 pm (UTC) (Link)

Reverend Foster Eat your heart out....

Echoes of Stranger in a Strange Land anyone?
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 9th, 2003 10:19 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Reverend Foster Eat your heart out....

I was thinking more along the lines of Nehemiah Scudder, which is where the country seems to be headed...

More and more of social policy seems to be decided by pressure from political lobbies composed primarily of evangelical Christians. Especially now in the days of Bush.

jenk From: jenk Date: May 8th, 2003 05:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Local company...wonder if any business columnists have seen it?
slutdiary From: slutdiary Date: May 8th, 2003 06:34 pm (UTC) (Link)


I'd like to get a list of the stores to avoid. I already avoid WalMart because I had heard that they censor what music and books they will carry.

It's hard to avoid CostCo, but - I mean, look at CostCo and tell me if you know of any other store staff other than Home Depot that sets your gaydar off as often.

rubylou From: rubylou Date: May 11th, 2003 12:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Elf, you popped the cork a bit fast here. Costco hasn't joined, any more than Barnes & Noble and Borders have joined. They have all been PRE-APPROVED to join the CMA, if they wish to. So far, none of them have.

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