Gospel Today magazine pulled from Christian bookstores’ shelves

Gospel Today magazine pulled from Christian bookstores’ shelves

A Christian magazine is treated as pornography merely for reporting on the trend of women pastors.

The Atlanta Journal reports:

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.

13 thoughts on “Gospel Today magazine pulled from Christian bookstores’ shelves

  1. Which only goes to show that those people DO consider women “filthy”.

    I sure am glad I put zero weight on what “they” think.

  2. I am so Godly hurt to discover this position from a Christian organization as it applies to the recent Gospel Today magazine. It proves that they are identical to the Pharisees exemplifying religiosity and manipulating Scripture for their WORLDLY gain. “…your sons AND daughters shall prophesy” Is that not the WORD of God? The message to the seven churches in Revelation admonishes those who say they are of the Lord Jesus Christ to beware of their actions done in His name. “…harden not your hearts” Southern Baptist Convention!  To show the conflict of their standard:  They support and promote Beth Moore. Her work is evangelistic, spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ; ministering to souls, as the pastor does. She is not bound in her works to any certain church and conveniently seems to carry out these works in general facilities. Yet, in their own manipulated biases, because she is not bound by title, their organization has deemed her works approved. Hypocritical to say the least. If she were to hold the title to support the work she does, what then would their position become? Dig into the Scriptures deeper – these references were the OPINION of Paul, Timothy, etc….NOT the mandate of the Lord! In the order of Spiritual things, woman is not denied the right to spread the Gospel (Mary Magdalene and women upon seeing Christ in ascension; Matthew 28), yet in doing all things must be obedient to the call of God and submissive to His authority first and then man’s.
    A Woman under the Lord’s  Authority.

  3. Kingz Daughter,

    Welcome to my blog.  I understand the hurt that you feel especially seeing that some women have been given privileges by the same men who actively restrict other women.  It is a shame that there is a double standard.

    The double standard does not come from the Bible.  I would encourage you to have a look at the Youtube clips that we have put up showing that there is a thoughtful way to interpret Paul where Paul is not one who restricted women but set them free and the “hard” passages of Paul have had a history of having verses ripped from their context.

  4. That is pretty incredible.  It is their choice what they sell and how they sell it, but it does show their attitude.

  5. Lin,

    Sarcasm definitely has its place in revealing truth.  It is hard to see how the SBC doesn’t get it.  Why the fear regarding even mentioning that there are women pastors?  And why inactivity when an issue is serious like the issue of predators in the pulpit?

    It is a lesson to all of us that we need to be cautious that a personal agenda does not blind us.

    I am not comfortable at all with milieu control.  It appears to take the form of “lording” it over others not giving them opportunity to learn to discern truth.  Truth has to be discerned for you.  That is what the cults do and it makes me shiver at how some have used it to control and manipulate information.  This is why I do not have a problem here of linking to an article that I am refuting.  If what I am doing by my refutation is fair and is not just knocking down a “straw man”, then it will be seen by referring to the original.  Those who want to manipulate and control people’s opinion have a great fear of letting people see the other side.  When both sides are presented side by side, the control is not there.  If I have misrepresented someone’s teaching, I deserve to be corrected in gentleness and love.  I would expect that others would appreciate a correction on their view too.  The bottom line is that we should not fear people from seeing both sides.

  6. Cheryl mentions “milieu control” in this post, and the topic of what actually defines a cult came up on Wade Burleson’s blog discussing the same thing.

    This is a comment I just posted (a little late to the dance over there) that I thought might be helpful to people who want to learn more about milieu control and the significance of it.

    I just posted the following at “Grace and Truth To You“:

    A few have expressed some concern over what actually defines a cult…

    Dr. Paul Martin said that there were two kinds of fruit: that of the doctrine preached and that of the life lived. In that respect there can be two kinds of cults — those that teach false doctrine and those that use coercive and manipulative means to recruit and control membership.

    In terms of doctrine, a cult denies the central teachings of Christian orthodoxy, primarily always denying the Trinity.

    (Do we have anyone in the SBC arguing subordinationism in the Trinity? Hmmm. A comment for another day and another thread, but a reasonable one.)

    In terms of behavior, a Biblical Christian church can manifest the characteristics of cultic manipulation and thus be considered a mind-control or thought reform cult while still claiming sound basic doctrine.

    One can use a couple of different criteria for determining cultic behavior. One is the “Spiritual Abuse” model according to Henke, wherein a group demonstrates the following:
    Authoritarian Systems and leaders over-emphasize authority
    Image Conscious Maintains high standards to validate specialness to God
    Suppresses Criticism No questioning of doctrine or leadership is permitted
    Perfectionistic Blessings come through performance and noncompliance is punished.
    Unbalanced/Elitist Abusive religions must distinguish themselves from all other religions so they can claim to be distinctive and therefore special to God


    The other criteria generally used to evaluate whether a group demonstrates cultic behavior is Robert Lifton’s Thought Reform model:
    Milieu Control — The control of information and communication, and generation of propaganda
    Mystical Manipulation — The manipulation of experiences that appear spontaneous but in fact were planned and orchestrated
    Demand for Purity — The world is viewed as black and white and the members are constantly exhorted to conform to the ideology of the group and strive for perfection
    Cult of Confession — Sins, flaws and shortcomings (as defined by the group) are to be confessed to the group
    Sacred Science — The group’s doctrine or ideology is considered to be the ultimate Truth, beyond all questioning or dispute
    Loading the Language — The group interprets or uses words and phrases in new ways so that often the outside world does not understand
    Doctrine Over Person — The member’s personal experiences are subordinated to the sacred science and any contrary experiences must be denied or reinterpreted to fit the ideology of the group
    Dispensing of Existence — The group has the prerogative to decide who has the right to exist and who does no

    There’s plenty more to read on my blog and website if you want more information about this topic.

    I’ve seen varying degrees of all these characteristics at work in the SBC in recent years. I’m still shocked to see it, and I rejoice that it is not true of all Southern Baptists. Sadly, sound doctrine does eventually get a person out of these groups and makes us less likely to get caught up into them, but we are all vulnerable to manipulation and these power of these group dynamics because they exploit both the good and bad aspects of human nature. Sound doctrine is not immunization against these ideas, otherwise I don’t think we would be hearing teachings that Jesus does not have the authority or either hear or answer prayer because He does not possess the Father’s supreme and ultimate authority within an ontologically hierarchical Trinity. I think that the social aspects of cultic behavior within the SBC have paved the way so that SBC seminaries are willing to allow these questionable views of Trinity to be entertained. Poor fruit of the life lived generally begets aberrant doctrine and vice versa.

  7. Paula,

    I glanced at that site (one I’m not familiar with).  I was happy to see a very broad perspective there, one that presents and links to a wide variety of approaches to the topic.  And it starts out with Scripture.  That’s always the best place to start!

    I also glanced at an article that they link to discussing how social manipulation is used within the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  In Christian circles, it’s been my experience that most people fail to look only at doctrinal issues, but the psychological ones are just as disturbing.  I will enjoy going back to read that article more closely that discusses how JWs are also emotionally and psychologically manipulated.

    I think we all like to avoid that discussion because we realize that we are all vulnerable to manipulation when the conditions are right.

    Thanks — I’ve got a new link to add to my growing list!

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