Jesus Action Figures and Other Abominations

Wal-Mart is about to start selling toys based on the Bible, according to a story in USAToday. The giant retailer will sell “a set of 3-inch figures based on Daniel in the lion’s den for about $7. A 12-inch talking Jesus doll is about $15. And 14-inch Samson or Goliath action figures are about $20.”

Why do corporations such as film studios, publishers, and big-box stores target Christians? Because that’s where the money is–or at least a lot of it. USAToday notes,

“It’s the first time the world’s largest retailer has carried a full line of religious toys. ‘We’re seeing interest from parents in faith-enriching toys,’ says Melissa O’Brien, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman.

“Religious products have become a multibillion-dollar business, and the toy move comes as it targets a younger audience. Fox recently created FoxFaith, a 20th Century Fox unit to distribute family movies with Christian themes. In January, Universal Pictures will release The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything — A VeggieTales Movie, based on the spiritual characters by Big Idea.”

“About one-sixth of Wal-Mart’s 3,300 stores will carry the One2believe line, which will get 2 feet of toy aisle shelf space, says O’Brien.

“One way Wal-Mart decided where to carry them, she says: Stores that sell a lot of Bibles will carry the new line.

“‘We view this as an opportunity to reach that audience,'” she says.”

“Since 9/11, there’s been a surge in faith-based products, says Bob Starnes, vice president of licensing at Big Idea, the firm behind VeggieTales. That’s because most Americans have a ‘faith perspective,’ he says.

“Laurie Schacht, president of The Toy Book, a toy industry publication, says some parents also are dissatisfied with toys from conventional toymakers: ‘There are a lot of wild things out there. Parents want to give kids wholesomeness.'”

Call me an old curmudgeon, but I’m tired of being pandered to as just another market segment. Yes, I appreciate the fact that some of this culture’s movers and shakers have finally noticed us Christians, and I’m all for “wholesomeness” (as long as we remember that this was not Jesus’ first concern). But let’s not forget that our Christian faith is a whole lot more than a mushy “faith perspective.”

And have you ever seen what kids do with their action figures? I’m not sure I want to see Samson beating up Jesus.

About Stan Guthrie

Stan Guthrie is an editor at large for Christianity Today magazine and for the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. His latest book is God's Story in 66 Verses. He also is author of All that Jesus Asks: How His Questions Can Teach and Transform Us, Missions in the Third Millennium: 21 Key Trends for the 21st Century, and A Concise Guide to Bible Prophecy. He is co-author of The Sacrament of Evangelism. Besides authoring, writing, and editing books, Stan is a literary agent, bringing together good authors, good books, and good publishers. Stan writes the monthly Priorities colum for BreakPoint.org. He has appeared on National Public Radio's €œTell Me More,€ WGN's Milt Rosenberg program, and many Christian shows, including The Eric Metaxas Show and Moody Radio'€™s €œNew Day Florida.€ A licensed minister and an inspirational speaker, he served as moderator for the Christian Book Expo panel discussion, Does the God of Christianity Exist, and What Difference Does It Make?
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