Merchandisers not only are banking on teenagers believing in God, but also on their desire to buy the T-shirt, do the Bible study, and wear the bracelet.
After the tragic shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado and Wedgwood Baptist Church in Texas, martyrdom is becoming a common theme for youth pastors and a business opportunity for retailers.
"We quickly realized there was something in this event that young people were drawn to," says Jason Janz, a youth pastor at South Sheridan Baptist Church in Denver.
To inspire kids with Cassie Bernall's proclamation of faith, Janz worked out an endorsement agreement with Bernall's parents for a line of "Yes, I Believe" merchandise that includes bracelets, hats, T-shirts, and a testimonial video. A Web site (www.yesibelieve.com) allows visitors to register for Bible study, purchase materials, and chat with other teenagers about Bernall's example.
Janz also got the permission of Bernall's parents to write a play and a Bible study based on her life. And She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall, written by her mother Misty, has stayed on bestseller lists since its October debut.
A percentage of the proceeds from all "Yes, I Believe" merchandise goes to the Cassie Bernall Foundation, which will fund ministry in North America and other countries. One of the first projects supported by the foundation will be the construction of an orphanage and up to 20 homes in Honduras.
Family Christian Book stores also believes Bernall's story will help move merchandise. In its catalogs and stores the company promotes a similar line of necklaces, key chains, mugs, books, and even a CD, packaged with the well-known phrase, "Yes, I Believe in God," boldly lettered in red, white, and blue.
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more