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 Bookstores 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.
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Retailers Marketing Martyrdom to Teens
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