retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

From a Southern California Costco store comes a story that illustrates not just the power of religious sensibilities, but also the power of social media.

It all started when Caleb Kaltenbach, pastor of the Discovery Church, was perusing the Costco's book selection. And found a stack of Bibles. In the "fiction" section.

Uh-oh.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Kaltenbach took a picture of the display and posted it with a comment: "Costco has Bibles for sale under the genre of FICTION Hmmmm…"

Needless to say, the picture and comment went viral, and Kaltenbach found himself being interviewed on Fox News, where he said, “It probably was a mistake, I have no idea, but a couple of things. One, I think that Christians in America do need to stand up for our faith. We’re not persecuted like our brothers and sisters in the Middle Eastern countries or North Korea or other places, but we do need to be vocal about our faith. And I do believe it shows how polarizing the Bible and Jesus are."

Costco has apologized, saying that it was a matter of distributor mislabeling, and that the mistake has been corrected.

Kaltenbach had a legitimate complaint, but it's not like Costco was trying to make a political or religious statement. It sounds like a mistake, pure and simple … albeit one that gets much greater legs because of social media.

The thing is, had social media existed 2,000 years ago, the three wise men would have been snapping selfies in the manger, the Sermon on the Mount would have been delivered in snippets of 140 characters, and Pontius Pilate would have polled his Facebook friends before pronouncing sentence.

Of course, if social media had existed 2,000 years ago, it also would have meant a dramatic difference in the history of technology….
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