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God and Mammon in Christian Publishing

That one can find Christian bookstores in nearly every shopping mall is doubtless a good sign. While our intellectual and cultural establishments refuse to factor God into their equations, there is an alternative network of publishing houses and bookstores devoted entirely to religion. While millions of ordinary Americans have stopped reading altogether, Christians, particularly conservative Christians, are still reading voraciously.

Though many segments of the publishing industry have been hurting. Christian publishing has been thriving, hi only four years, from 1991 to 1994, sales of religious books shot up 92 percent, from 36.7 million to 70.5 million. Nearly seven percent of all books sold are religious. Today, the network of Christian publishers and bookstores, mostly representing evangelical Protestantism, make up a three billion dollar industry.

And yet, Christian thought does not seem to be any more prominent in the marketplace of ideas. Even as its market share increases, the influence of Chrishanity on American culture continues to shrink. Part of the reason may be that Christians, with their publishing arms, have become something of a subculture, set off and kept separate from the mainstream. To the extent that this has happened, it is not necessarily due to a fundamentalist impulse to separate from the sinful world; rather, conservative Christians have been marginalized against their will by an aggressively...

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