Religion used to be a private matter. No longer. From the President of the US -a born-again Christian who says Jesus is his favourite philosopher and who claimed to talk to Jesus before going to war - to Hollywood stars, who now make movies with Aramaic dialogue or star in television shows where they are as likely to play angels as people, religion is everywhere. Religious-themed movies now open at churches rather than multiplexes, and why not: the churches hold more people, have comparable sound systems, and outnumber the theatres 4 to 1. The Presbyterians, Lutherans, Methodists, and Episcopalians are hanging on, but the evangelicals are growing like crazy. Two generations ago few people switched from the faith of their parents. Today nearly 50 percent of the Christian population switches denominations. Shopping for God has become a international pastime. Those churches that know how to market themselves are thriving; those that don't may not be here in another couple of generations. Religious marketing used to consist of a sign on the lawn in front of the church with some clever saying ("God answers knee-mail").
Today the megachurches send e-mails every day, provide ample parking, child care, refreshments, and entertainment before, during, and after services. Jesus threw the moneylenders out of the Temple; the megachurch pastors have brought the merchants inside. They promote a generalized Christianity, sometimes with not even a cross in evidence. They are designed to appeal to everyone and to offend no one. And they are attracting the worshippers who are leaving the mainline denominations. Jim Twitchell examines the phenomenon of religion in America today, often from the inside, as he travels to traditional churches and megachurches, analyzing their success at attracting new customers and retaining the old ones. He finds that the successful ministers (he calls them pastorpreneurs) study television instead of condemning it. They adapt rock and hip-hop to Christian themes. The conclusion: people are not growing more religious, but they are shopping and switching brands like never before. The churches that expect to survive better know how to market themselves.
Buy Shopping for God book by James B. Twitchell from Australia's Online Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
(234mm x 155mm x 30mm)
Simon & Schuster
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
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Author Biography - James B. Twitchell
James B. Twitchell is professor of English and advertising at the University of Florida. He is the author of several books on English literature, culture, marketing, and advertising, most recently Living It Up: America's Love Affair with Luxury.