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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Of Faith, fads, and FROG

For some youth, wearing WWJD bracelets and T-shirts is more than a fashion statement. "It says, 'It's cool to be a Christian,' " says Jason Schermerhorn, 19, a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Westerville, Ohio. Jason received a bracelet from a friend and later passed it on to someone else.

"It helps you with problems," says Amanda Fleischer, 12, a member of Redeemer Lutheran Church, Columbus, Ohio. "I got in this really big fight with my brother, and I thought about hurting him. Instead, I sat in my room to think it over. [Even if the bracelets are just another fad], it is a positive one. It still gets people to think about Jesus."

Traditional Christian symbols have largely lost the power to do that. Wearing the cross as jewelry says little, if anything, about a person's faith, says Mark Powell, professor of New Testament at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus. "If Madonna is seen wearing a cross people wouldn't assume she 'found religion.' But if you saw Madonna wearing a WWJD bracelet you would think twice."

The bracelets also create an unspoken bond between young Christians. "If I'm a teen and I want to say, 'I'm a Christian and proud of it,' a cross won't do it, but the bracelet will," Powell says, adding that society's need for heroes and positive role models helped fuel the popularity of WWJD.

If WWJD loses its influence, FROG is waiting to take its place as the next spiritual marketing phenomenon. To the WWJD question FROG answers: Fully Rely On God. An Indiana company, Dicksons Inc., has sold more than 500,000 FROG bracelets since last spring largely through Christian bookstores.

Recognizing the wide appeal of WWJD, the company decided it "needed to take the next step," says its marketing chief, Steven Mohler. "We are in business to help our bottom line. No question. But our mission is to serve customers by creating and distributing biblically based gift products."


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