1st Edition

Selling the Sacred Religion and Marketing from Crossfit to QAnon

Edited By Mara Einstein, Sarah McFarland Taylor Copyright 2024
    348 Pages 28 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    348 Pages 28 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    There’s religion in my marketing! There’s marketing in my religion! Selling the Sacred explores the religio-cultural and media implications of a two-sided phenomenon: marketing religion as a product and marketing products as religion. What do various forms of religion/marketing collaboration look like in the twenty-first century, and what does this tell us about American culture and society?

    Social and technological changes rapidly and continuously reframe religious and marketing landscapes. Crossfit is a “cult.” Televangelists use psychographics and data marketing. QAnon is a religion and big business. These are some of the examples highlighted in this collection, which engages themes related to capitalist narratives, issues related to gender and race, and the intersection of religion, politics, and marketing, among other key issues.

    The innovative contributors examine the phenomenon of selling the sacred, providing a better understanding of how marketing tactics, married with religious content, influence our thinking and everyday lives. These scholars bring to light how political, economic, and ideological agendas infuse the construction and presentation of the “sacred,” via more traditional religious institutions or consumer-product marketing. By examining religion and marketing broadly, this book offers engaging tools to recognize and unpack what gets sold as “sacred,” what’s at stake, and the consequences.

    A go-to resource for those working in marketing studies, religious studies, and media studies, Selling the Sacred is also a must-read for religious and marketing professionals.

    Part 1 Branding, Promotion, and Religious Media—Past and Present

    1. From Logos to Logo and Back Again: Images as Transactional Objects in the History of Christian Devotion

    David Morgan

    2. Spiritual Healing for Sale: Medical Pluralism and the Commodification of Native American Healing Traditions

    Sarah Dees

    3. Rex Humbard, Psychographics, and the Hard Sell

    John Modern

    Part 2 Politics and Religio-Marketing

    4. Sharpiegate

    John Durham Peters

    5. Two Truths and a Lie: Unpacking PragerU’s Hostile Rebrand of Climate Action in Religion of Green

    Sarah McFarland Taylor

    6. A Head for Politics: Yarmulkes, Presidential Politics, and the Marketing of (Jewish) America

    Eric Michael Mazur

    7. First Thoughts on a Second Qoming: Reading QAnon’s Occult Economy Through the Works of Jean and John Comaroff

    Brian Hughes

    Part 3 Old Marketing in New Media

    8. Faith-Centric Tiktoks: Promoting Religion through Personalized Experience and Engagement

    Mara Einstein

    9. Selling to "Smarties": The Marketing Strategies of a Social Justice Influencer

    Kristin M. Peterson

    10. Marketing Mainline Campus Ministry: "God Loves Everyone, No Exceptions"

    John Schmalzbauer

    11. Inventing a Digital Evangelical Audience

    Corrina Laughlin

    Part 4 Spirituality and Multi-Level Marketing (MLM)

    12. Live Your Best Life Now: Wellness, Spirituality, and Multi-Level Marketing in the Health Freedom Movement

    Susannah Crockford

    13. #BecauseofLuLaRoe: MLMs and the Rhetoric of Freedom, Girlboss Feminism, and Retail Ministry

    Deborah Whitehead

    Part 5 Cult Branding, Purpose Marketing, and the Body Politic

    14. Drinking the Crossfit Kool-Aid: Cult Marketing Meets Functional Fitness

    Cody Musselman

    15. Purpose-Driven Food: Evangelical Diet Marketing and Conscious Capitalism

    Chad E. Seales

    Part 6 Religion, Marketing, and the Spirit of Capitalism

    16. Hinduism and the New Spirit of Capitalism: Vocational Theology in 21st-Century Spiritualist Self-Improvement Literature

    Justin W. Henry

    17. Vintage not Retro: The Secondhand Social Life of Christian Material Culture

    James S. Bielo

    18. (Not) Marketing Atheism: A Conversation with Gregory Epstein

    Mara Einstein


    Mara Einstein is an internationally recognized expert on deceptive marketing tactics, a sought-after speaker and writer, and a Professor of Media Studies at Queens College (CUNY), United States.

    Sarah McFarland Taylor is an award-winning author and Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Environmental Policy and Culture at Northwestern University, United States.