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CyberChristians

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Web sites offering “Christian products” appear more and more frequently. iChristian.com, iBelieve.com and Christianbook.com are a few of the Web sites targeting Christians for electronic commerce.

“Bringing popular Christian resources right to your door.”

“Your headquarters for everything Christian . . . for less!”

Web sites offering “Christian products” appear more and more frequently. iChristian.com, iBelieve.com and Christianbook.com are a few of the Web sites targeting Christians for electronic commerce.

iChristian.com states on its Web site that one may enhance a relationship with God via “products and services.” The site refers to visitors not as mere consumers, but as “our family, our friends, our neighbors.”

iChristian.com offers “over 100,000 family-friendly products” and encourages Christian living with “Christ-centered products and services.”

iBelieve.com offers five divisions at its Web site: “my faith, my life, my community, my world, my store.”

It sells “thousands of Christian products–all designed to enhance your life and faith” and delivers them “right to your door.”

Christianbook.com is the online home of Christian Book Distributors. At their Web site, one can browse among items ranging from “clothing & accessories” to “cults & spiritual warfare.”

An “i” in front of common words stands for “internet.” An “e” stands for “electronic.” Thus, iVillage represents an “internet village.” E-commerce refers to “electronic commerce.”

Christians are on the Internet like everyone else. As these sites demonstrate, one can now speak of iChristians and e-Christians (internet Christians and electronic Christians). Since they exist online, why not shop and buy online?

Do these sites link Christianity to consumerism like never before? And does this increasing phenomenon conflict with living simply?

Quentin J. Schultze, professor and author of Winning Your Kids Back from the Media, writes: “Once our identity is tied to what we can buy and display, this ethic has successfully invaded our lives. We need to embrace the goodness of the material world without succumbing to any kind of material idolatry, the great sin of greed.”

This question follows: If identity is tied to “stuff,” then will buying and displaying more Christian-themed goods heighten one’s identity as a Christian?

For the adage is, “You are what you buy.” Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Traditionally, Christians have rejected “worldly” items based on the logic that one’s “stuff” reflects one’s mindset. Will this same logic then motivate Christians to purchase “religious” merchandise?

Will Christian e-commerce influence Christian identities?
Cliff Vaughn is BCE’s associate director.