In a society overrun by commercial clutter, religion has become yet another product sold in the consumer marketplace, and faiths of all kinds must compete with a myriad of more entertaining and more convenient leisure activities. Brands of Faith argues that in order to compete effectively faiths have had to become brands – easily recognizable symbols and spokespeople with whom religious prospects can make immediate connections
Mara Einstein shows how religious branding has expanded over the past twenty years to create a blended world of commerce and faith where the sacred becomes secular and the secular sacred. In a series of fascinating case studies of faith brands, she explores the significance of branded church courses, such as Alpha and The Purpose Driven Life, mega-churches, and the popularity of the televangelist Joel Olsteen and television presenter Oprah Winfrey, as well as the rise of Kaballah. She asks what the consequences of this religious marketing will be, and outlines the possible results of religious commercialism – good and bad. Repackaging religion – updating music, creating teen-targeted bibles – is justifiable and necessary. However, when the content becomes obscured, religion may lose its unique selling proposition – the very ability to raise us above the market.
Table of Contents
Preface 1. Introduction 2. The Changing Religious Marketplace 3. The Business of Religion 4. Branding Faith 5. The Course to God 6. The New Televangelists 7. Kabbalah: Marketing Designer Spirituality 8. The Politics of Faith Brands 9. Has Religious Marketing Gone Too Far?
Mara Einstein is an Associate Professor of Media Studies at Queens College as well as a professor at the business school at New York University. Prior to teaching, she worked as a marketing executive at NBC and MTV Networks as well as at a number of major advertising agencies.
'This illuminating, thoughtful, and important analysis of faith branding explains a great deal about the current crossover of entertainment and religion in the US...Highly recommended.' – R. Ray, Mississippi State University, CHOICE
'Brands of Faith offers a valuable reassment of religion in a globalized post-industrial economy. Einstein introduces the histories of television and marketing as much-needed conversation partners for anyone interested in religion in America today. Her expertise in media and marketing is essential for such an exploration and both Communcations and Religious Studies scholars with benefit from her emphatic bridging of these worlds.' – The Communication Review
'Brands of Faith is a welcome addition to the larger body of work on religion and consumer culture. Because of Einstein's business acumen, she offers a perspective unavailable to most religion scholars. ... [A] lively read that will enlighten those looking for an interpretive lens through which to view the spectactular success of contemporary religious commodities.' – Aaron K. Ketchell, University of Kansas, USA