Thursday, June 28, 2007

Why I Will No Longer Shop at Family Christian Bookstores

My wife and children recently went to our local Family Christian Bookstore to shop for Father's Day gifts. (It's good to be loved). While looking for a particular movie (Time Changer), my wife noticed that the store carried several secular films. On Father's Day, as I opened gifts and cards (Did I mention that it's good to be loved?), my wife mentioned that while she couldn't find the movie she was looking for, she noticed a number of secular movies on the shelves. When she mentioned some of the titles, I became concerned. I knew that some of the movies contained instances of blasphemy.

Later that afternoon, I went to the local Family Christian Bookstore, with pen and paper in hand. I went through the store's movie selection and wrote down the titles of most of the secular movies. I came home and searched for reviews of the movie, on websites like Plugged-In Online and CapAlert. Sadly, what I discovered confirmed my concerns.

The store carried the following movies, all of which contain instances of blasphemy: Miracle, Mighty Joe Young, Lizzy McGuire Movie, Inspector Gadget, Cheaper by the Dozen, Spy Kids, and Night at the Museum. (It is interesting to note that Dr. James Dobson wrote a rebuttal to Plugged-In Online's review of Evan Almighty in which he sited the repeated instances of blasphemy as cause not to recommend the movie. You can read it here. I mention this because I anticipate that Family Christian will carry this movie once it is released on DVD.)

I returned to the store and asked for the manager. The manager was not there. The sales clerk with whom I spoke shared my concern about the movies carried by the store, but said there was little that could be done at the store-level. Any decision regarding merchandise carried by the store would be made at the corporate level.

Armed with that information, I went to the Family Christian website, through which I sent the following e-mail:

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to lodge a complaint regarding offensive material being carried by my local Family Christian Store (store #291). The material in question includes no less than seven movies in which the name of God is blasphemed. The titles are: Miracle, Mighty Joe Young, Lizzy McGuire Movie, Inspector Gadget, Cheaper By The Dozen, Spy Kids, and Night at the Museum. Reviews of these movies that indicate their
blasphemous content can be found at http://www.pluggedinonline.com/, http://www.capalert.com/, and other online locations.

It is very disturbing that a store and corporation that categorizes itself as Christian, uses the word "Christian" in its name, and caters to the Christian community, would carry offensive movies on its shelves--movies that take the name of God in vain by using His holy name as a cuss word, or to express disgust or excitement, or flippantly as a slang term.

I was told by the sales associate at my local store that the decision to remove these offensive movie titles from the shelves of your stores would be a decision made at the corporate level. I was also led to believe that it is unlikely such a decision will be made. However, I am holding out hope.

Since I could not be given any assurances that the offensive and blasphemous material would be removed before I visited the store again, I turned in my "Pastor's Perks" discount card. Tomorrow, I will return to the store (when the manager is in), at which time I will ask to be removed from the store's mailing list and turn in my
"Family Perks" discount cards.

Until this error is corrected, I will no longer shop at Family Christian Stores. And, in good conscience, I will have to advise my friends, family members, and others not to
patronize your stores as well.

I hope Family Christian Stores will take this matter seriously. What can be more serious than lifting up the name of God--the Lawgiver and Judge who is able to both save and destroy (James 4:12)--with reverence, awe, respect, and love?

I look forward to your response. More importantly, I look forward to Family Christian Stores doing the right thing by bringing honor and glory to God in and through every item your stores sell to the public--saved and unsaved.

Thank you for your kind and prompt consideration in this matter.

Here is the e-mail I received from Darryl Tawney, customer service specialist for Family Christian:

Chaplain Miano,

Thank you for taking the time to express your feedback.

Please note that the ratings organization we utilize is The Dove Foundation (http://www.dove.org/). You can read more about their organization at that website. We trust their ratings. All of the noted movies fall within the 0-2 ratings noted below. All of the films noted would be considered family-friendly.

And here is my response to Mr. Tawney:

Darryl,

Thank you for your prompt response to my e-mail.

So, if I understand you correctly, as long as the movie falls within the Dove Foundation's "0-2 rating," it matters not to Family Christian that God's name is taken in vain. I was hoping that Family Christian would have used the infallible and inerrant Word of God as its guidelines regarding blasphemy instead of the fallible rating system of an organization created by man.

It is sad that Family Christian and the Dove Foundation consider the blasphemous utterance of God's name to fall under the category of "mild, crude language." Unfortunately, the Dove Foundation, like Family Christian, does not consider the following uses of God's name in the movie "Night at the Museum" (a movie carried in Family Christian stores) to be blasphemous, and thus qualify for the organization's worst rating for language (4-5). The blue text that follows was taken directly from the Dove Foundation website: Language: A-1; OMG-1; H-1; For God's sake-1; Geez-1

Or consider the following Dove Foundation language rating of the movie "Mighty Joe Young" (another movie carried in Family Christian stores): Language: H-3; D-1; OMG/G-6; Cr*p-1

Regardless of the Dove Foundation's rating system, to utter God's name causally,
irreverently, or flippantly (even once) is a misuse of His name, and is therefore blasphemous. How many times must one lie to be a liar? How many times must one steal to be a thief? How many times must one commit murder or adultery to be a murderer or an adulterer? Only once, Darryl. And whoever utters God's name in vain, even once, is a blasphemer.

Something else to consider is this. Even though the Dove Foundation found no instances of the misuse of God's name in the movie "Miracle" (yet another movie your stores carry), the "Plugged In Online" review found the following: "More than 30 mild profanities are included here, mostly 'h---.' There are also a few uses of 'crap,' 'screw,' 'ass' and 'bastards.' God’s name is misused a half-dozen times.
Jesus’ once. A banner at a hockey match reads, 'Soviets get the puck out of Afghanistan' (emphasis added).

Darryl, while I did not receive the answer I had hoped and prayed for, at least I now
know where Family Christian stands regarding the blasphemous use of God's name. I will therefore continue with my plans to turn in my "Family Perks" cards, ask to be removed from my local store's mailing list, and encourage my friends and family not to patronize your stores.

If there comes a time when Family Christian realizes that any misuse of God's name is blasphemous (no matter how insignificant such utterances are seen in the eyes of a sinful world), and if there comes a time when Family Christian repents of its endorsement of blasphemy through the sale of movies in which characters take God's name in vain, I will consider returning to your stores. But, until then, I am sorry to say, you have lost a customer.

Thank you, again, Darryl, for taking the time to contact me.

To date, I have not received a response from Darryl Tawney or any Family Christian representative.

Armed with Darryl Tawney's response, I returned to my local Family Christian Bookstore. This time, I was able to talk to the manager. She was expecting me. I handed her my "Family Perks" cards, along with a transcript of my conversation with Darryl Tawney. I asked her to remove my family's name from the store's mailing list.

Like the sales associate with whom I spoke the previous day, the manager was sympathetic to my position. At one point, she whispered, "I appreciate your conviction." I told her that I would shop at her store again, if Family Christian changed its policy regarding blasphemy in the movies their stores carry.

What will you do? Wanting to have integrity in my position, and wanting to keep my word to Darryl Tawney, I want to encourage the readers of this blog to stop patronizing Family Christian Bookstores, the largest Christian bookstore chain in the country. Join me in upholding the sanctity and holiness of God's name by not spending your money at Family Christian.

If you agree that Family Christian should not carry movies in which God's name is blasphemed, please contact Darryl Tawney and tell him so. PLEASE be respectful. Do not sully the name of God by sinning against Him with offensive or abusive speech. Be kind to Mr. Tawney. Voice your concern with an attitude that brings honor and glory to God's name.

Additionally, I want to encourage you to visit your local Family Christian Bookstore, turn in your "Family Perks" or "Pastor Perks" cards (if you have them), and asked to be removed from the store's mailing list. Again, PLEASE be respectful. Keep in mind, store-level employees do not decide what products appear on the store's shelves. You may find, as I did, that store employees will agree with and appreciate your position.

On a personal note: if you are wondering why I am making this stand now, and not sooner; I have an answer to that question. The answer is that up until a couple of months ago, I was sinning against God in my television and movie viewing habits. I viewed blasphemy as a lesser offense than hearing the "F-bomb" or other forms of profanity. I viewed blasphemy as a lesser offense than gratuitous, graphic violence and explicit sexual content. I, like so many I have talked to recently, attributed my desensitisation to the misuse of God's name to the sad fact that "everybody does it"--we hear blasphemy, to one degree or another (all of which is offensive to God), all the time. I was wrong. The Lord pricked my conscience. I have repented of my sin. And I no longer watch television shows or movies in which God's name is taken in vain.

I feel it is appropriate that I acknowledge my friend, Ray Comfort, for helping me see that while I was not uttering blasphemous statements, my viewing habits were tantamount to passive participation in blasphemy. He also helped me to see that I was literally paying people to entertain me with their blasphemy. Ray did this by developing his new website, Hollywood and God. Ray's most recent book, Hollywood Be Thy Name, has also had a significant impact in my thinking and practices.

While all of Scripture is profitable, one verse that fuels much of my thinking and the way I try to live my life is James 4:17. "Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin." Why am I making this stand? Because I believe it is the right thing to do. What would God have you do?

12 comments:

Daniel Bartsch said...

Hi Tony,

Thanks for a thought provoking article. "Hollywood and God" has opened my eyes to how tolerating I had become towards hearing blasphemy.

However, question...

Will you stop patronizing ChristianBook.com for the same reason?

What about Walmart?

I'm guessing that the principle you are standing up for would only apply to stores that profess to be Christian (which I'm guessing FCB and ChristianBook do, since they have "Christian" in their name, but which Walmart does not).

Since you've jumped in with a specific application to FCB, perhaps it would be good to go back and elucidate on the background principles behind boycotting?

Perhaps the principles of 1 Cor. 5 come into play in this type of situation... we are to disassociate from professing Christians who commit flagrant sin, but disassociate from the pagan.

What are your thoughts?

Blessings! And thanks again,

Daniel

Marcus Pittman said...

YEa, I hate to play the Devils Advocate here, but the problem with Boycott's in a capitalist Society is that they can always become Hypocritical.

Every Christian Book Store I know of sells the following...

TD JAKES
ROB BELL
JOEL OSTEEN
BRIAN MCLAUREN

For the most part these people are hertics. YEt all the Christian Book stores sells them.

Unfortunatly this is just a compromise (Unless there is an overwhelming majority which could happen) that hapopens when you live in a country so great that actually has Christian Book Stores.

Also on the same standard you can do the following...

Stop watching TV. Get Rid of them. BEcause ALL the Networks air programs with Blasphemy.

Do not use Google because it can link to Pornography.

and it can go on and on. THe previous poster was right about wal-mart and every other store that sells bibles and Christian books.

anyways these are just my two cents.

Marcus

Tony Miano said...

Great question, brother.

As I stated in the article, this issue is still relatively new to me. Family Christian was my first exposure to a Christian business selling films containing blasphemy. And their apparent lack of concern over the issue has, in part, brought about my response.

I see me stance with Family Christian as one Christian holding other Christians accountable. How this situation applies to non-Christian businesses is something I must prayerfully consider. I appreciate you asking the question.

Let me also stress that my conscience should not be your guide, or anyone else's guide. You must follow your conscience (to the extent that is is consistent with God's Word). I am fallible. But if the position and actions I have taken cause others to at least consider their viewing habits, and if, at some point, it causes Family Christian to change the way they determine what movies they put on their store's shelves, then I will thank God for that.

Again, brother, I appreciate your input. Thank you for your thought-provoking questions.

Daniel Bartsch said...

Whoops, I see I made a major typo in my original post (although I think you figured it out anyways)... I meant to say, we are to disassociate from professing Christians who commit flagrant sin, but continue to associate with the pagan.

I think your stand with FCB is good, and I am just trying to think through the ramifications of it on a larger scale.

Blessings!

Daniel

Tony Miano said...

Daniel,

Like you, brother, I have to evaluate my position regarding FCB in light of every aspect of my life. More specifically, I have to evaluate every aspect of my life in light of God's Word--in this case, the Third Commandment. Not an easy task, certainly; but as you know, God has not promised ease in following Him. :-)

Jason Hotham said...

I was just thinking: "He who knows what is good, but does not do it, he has sinned." Did I quote that right? Anyway, I am trying to say, if you know it is "wrong" to shop at stores that promote blasphemy, you most certainly should not support that store. As Tony said, it really is a conscience issue and I also think it has to do with spiritual maturity as well.

Jason

Anonymous said...

yCheaper By The Dozen is blasphemous! Give me a break.

Tony Miano said...

Yes, the "Cheaper By The Dozen" DVD contains blasphemy. According to the Plugged-In Online review: "Outtakes feature one use of 'd--n' and a bleep.' Referring to Tom’s new boss, one of the twins remarks, 'Mom’s right, he is a wiener.' Several variations of “sucks” join a couple misuses of 'Oh, g*d!'"

Holly B said...

Awesome article Tony and great responses as well. It makes me glad to know that the Christian book store I attend is "run" and was created by our church to serve a secular world. You wont' find secular or blasphemous stuff there because its a direct link to our church. There is even a cafe built on the other side to get people who love good food, to come inside and check it out. It has been a great tool to get people to come in and see a whole new way that God can stir people up.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I am a former store manager of Family Christian Store and sadly to say, there is a lot more unethical practices going on in the stores than the movies they carry. They do in fact care more about the dollar than they do reaching out to the needs of hurting people. At one point,(concerning the company's decision to open on Sunday) myself and other store managers voiced our concerns to our District Manager and Corporate. The response we got in return was this, "According to the Bible, our Sabbath rest is now found in Jesus"...."We are not a Christian ministry, we are a business that caters to the Christian population." I have also told my friends and loved ones to steer clear of FCS and to shop at other retailers. FCS, in my opinion, is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Anonymous said...

I had questions when they sell books from Joel Osteen and other prosperity gospel types. They also sell Laura Bush's new book and recently I found out she is pro choice. There is a fine line here. Like the others have said here, those who have Christian owners like Chick Fil A. Their kids toys etc are good but even then there will be someone who may not like something.

Anonymous said...

Forgive me, my thoughts are all over the place and I may not be able to articulate what I need to share. I'm reading this today and becoming more and more convicted as I read. Interestingly enough, I currently work for FCS. Today, because it's been on my heart lately, I decided to conduct research on the company. This blog, as well as several other things I read today, has been an answer to my prayers. You see, I took this job (store manager) because I wanted to work for a Christian company. I've worked with them only a few short months. In that time I realized I was not working for a Christian company. Aside from all the above mentioned: Shady business practices, poor treatment towards employees from upper management, employees treating customers terribly, lying to customers, ... You get
the idea. So, to add to the initial comments made by the originator of this blog, as you can see, the list of
questionable conduct being practiced at FCS is, sadly,
very long. Today I also learned that as of 1999, the company was Primarily owned by a private equity firm, Madison Dearborn Partners. Few years after they took ownership, they started opening their doors on Sunday.