A Christian magazine is treated as pornography merely for reporting on the trend of women pastors.
Smiling women on the cover of a slick magazine. Sold from under the counter. Must request it from store clerk. That’s not something a buyer would typically find in a Christian bookstore. Not unless it’s one of the more than 100 Lifeway Christian Bookstores across the United States, including about six in metro Atlanta.
Gospel Today, the Fayetteville-published magazine, was pulled off the racks by the bookstores’ owner, the Southern Baptist Convention. The problem? The five smiling women on the cover are women of the cloth — church pastors.
So what is the big deal? The deal is that when a denomination says that a secondary issue of faith is so important it warrants barring people from reading about the other side, Lifeway Christian Bookstores has stepped into the realm of milieu control. Milieu control is the control of information and communication. Wikipedia adds that milieu control is about limiting contact in order to restrict the ability to make judgments about information that would present itself against the accepted position:
Additionally, Milieu control “includes other techniques to restrict members’ contact with the outside world and to be able to make critical, rational, judgments about information.”
How did Gospel Today react to their magazine relegated to a place behind the counter?
Teresa Hairston, owner of Gospel Today, whose glossy pages feature upbeat articles about health, living, music and ministry, said she discovered by e-mail that the September/October issue of the magazine had been demoted to the realm of the risque.
While saying that she was “shocked” at the reaction by the books stores, she adds:
“We weren’t trying to pick a fight,” Hairston said. “We just did a story on an emerging trend in a lot of churches.”
Foxnews.com reports about the controversy:
Published for nearly 20 years, Gospel Today is the largest and most widely distributed urban Christian publication in the country, with a circulation of 240,000. The magazine’s publisher, Teresa Hairston, said she was just reporting on a trend, not trying to promote women pastors.
“They basically treated it like pornography and put it behind the counter,” she said. “Unless a person goes into the store and asks for it, they won’t see it displayed.”
Pastor Tamara Bennett of This Is Pentecost Ministries in Sacramento, Calif., one of the pastors featured on the front cover of Gospel Today is encouraging people to ask for the magazine:
“All Dr. Hairston did was tell a story, she didn’t preach a doctrine,” Bennett said of the article. “It’s just sharing news.”
A radio broadcaster from Atlanta has produced his own comments on Youtube regarding this pulling of a Christian magazine and he brings out the Southern Baptist Convention links to Lifeway Christian Bookstores.