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If you have recently stood in line at the grocery store and glanced at the tabloid covers, chances are you have seen the faces of reality TV stars Jon and Kate Gosselin. Jon and Kate are stars of the wildly popular TLC show Jon & Kate Plus Eight, which documents the life of this Pennsylvania couple as they raise their eight children, 8-year-old twins and 5-year-old sextuplets. Until recently, Jon and Kate were celebrated as models of wholesome family values. Sure, they bickered a lot, but they were committed to staying together for the long haul. Indeed, last season featured them renewing their wedding vows on the beach in Hawaii. Such commitment endeared them to the watching public and made them TLC's most profitable commodity.

Of all the viewers who followed the Gosselins, evangelicals were among the most faithful. Jon and Kate's refusal to resort to "selective reduction" when they found themselves pregnant with sextuplets, their membership in an Assemblies of God church, and their Isaiah 40:31 T-shirts all helped to make them icons of evangelical piety. Churches from across the country clamored to be added to their speaking tours. In the last two years the vast majority of Jon and Kate's presentations took place at Christian conferences or at evangelical churches, most often Baptist, nondenominational or charismatic.

Zondervan, one of the foremost evangelical presses, published two books with the Gosselins, both of which hit the New York Times bestseller list. The popular tongue-in-cheek blog Stuff Christians Like listed "Watching Jon and Kate Plus 8" on its list of favored Christian products or activities. Evangelicals dependably tuned in to the television show as the family received free trips to posh resorts, when the ...

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June 2009

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