I was just reading Brand Name Bullies: The quest to own and control culture
(David Bollier: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.: 2005).
I've always been fascinated by religious texts and who owns what copyright e.g., the King James Bible and the British Royals, going back to the
Vatican via the Anglicans. Perhaps also Christian hymns and songs.
Ultimately these things should be for the service of "the Lord", and freely used - or not so?
The book has a whole chapter on the disputes over acronyms, like WWF (Wildlife Fund or Wrestling Federation? Well, the "panda-lovers" won the 2001
court case, and the wrestling "mayhem lovers" had to drop the label: p.215).
However, Bollier points out on the Christian "WWJD" acronym:
An account of dueling acronyms cannot fail to include the battle over "WWJD", which stands for "What would Jesus Do?" The phrase had its origins
in the 1890s, coined by Congregationalist minister Charles Sheldon as a part of a series of rousing sermons. ... The sermons were later collected in a
book and published under the title In His Steps. Because of a copyright mix-up (the magazine in which the sermons were originally published was
not copyrighted), the inspirational book became a public domain title.
The material was published in 20 languages and sold 10 million copies via 80 publishing houses.
The problems arose when a church youth group leader, Janie Tinklenberg came up with the idea of WWJD bracelets to inspire teenagers to live more
spiritual lives. Soon the idea led to a multimillion-dollar fad, including 16 million bracelets and an array of of T-shirts, pencils and other
In 1998 Tinklenberg applied for a trademark on WWJD jewelery .Others won trademarks for the acronym in videos, concert tours and "dozens of other
products". (P. 216)
But what ethical problems did the irony of the bracelet's message underline?
What would Jesus really have done?
This situation raised some interesting ethical questions for the Christian merchandising industry: Would Jesus have tried to claim a property
right in "WWJD" or would he have been pleased to see the term spread freely through the air, without restriction? Would Jesus have tried to cash in,
the better to help his ministry, or would he have tried to cash in outside of the marketplace? The Christian merchandising sector had certainly made
its own judgment on these issues.
Well, it seems religion is just a market with capitalist artifacts.
I cannot say how much anyone cashed in personally, but a lot of cash went somewhere.
Does that mean I cannot make my own WWJD bracelet and sell it for a donation?
Was this whole business ethical?
edit on 12-4-2011 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)