It seems I am always the last to know; after some research I have found that one or two national newspapers in the U.K. have already discussed this topic – I am ashamed to say it passed me by – maybe because it is regarding fashion. High-street fashion retailer ‘Forever 21’ has already fought off criticism in the U.S. & despite local coverage has seemed to have done the same here in England. I first heard of the store when my girlfriend explained she just had to wake up early to make the ‘grand opening’,
“really?” was my response, I didn’t even know people actually did that (other than for iphones)
The shop which my partner frantically woke up to attend has fallen upon the fury of many secularists who have found it deplorable that the shop prints Bible Verses on their bags. This not only is an invasion in my opinion, but it just feels creepy.
Imagine my confusion as I looked around my room and found a bright pink plastic bag that my other half had brought with her, on closer inspection I wondered “does that say John 3:16? It can’t.”
John 3:16King James Version (KJV)
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Christians may find this heart-warming, but is it not unbelievably wrong to force the idea not only that the Christian God exists (which presupposes other God’s who claim to be ‘the only’ do not exist) but that he gave a son (not a daughter) and finally that if you believe in him you will live forever – most importantly if you don’t believe in him you will “perish.” Might as well just say “Thanks for buying this item, if you’re a fan of cheese, you will have a good life, if you’re not – you will almost certainly get AIDS.”
If the bag secretly had a verse from the Quran or some wording from Mormonism or Scientology I believe it would get more attention.
I just found it a little disgusting that I was being subjected to someone else’s religious beliefs in my own home; some might say I invited my girlfriend in so technically I let her bring the item – but in truth she had no idea until I noticed it. How strange that the company wants to promote Christ so much that is secretly hides bible verses in the fold at the base of a bag. Not exactly obvious. For the first time in a long time I took my perspective from the position of a Muslim – silly ideologies aside – how would they feel if they had unknowingly brought such a blasphemous item into their homes? The same homes that grace the presence of The Holy Quran! I’m sure in many Muslim households this type of oversight could end up in shaming, discipline or even violence. Who knows, the same could be said of other religions – I know my family would have a similar reaction if I bought a certain newspaper or wore a certain item of clothing that was counter to our core values (like the Daily Mail & The Sun Newspapers – or a Swastika T-shirt)
Strange that in a supposedly secular country like the U.S. this is heralded by Christians as a beautiful thing, but in England a supposedly Christian nation it is seen as an unwanted intrusion. It never ceases to amaze me the country that fled religious control turned into arguably one of the most religious countries on earth.
On the one hand this is someone’s own company, it’s their choice to print whatever they like – I have seen high-street shops with half naked men and women and other things that could offend many, but this is more sinister. The company have been known to fast-track the careers of devout Christian designers and offer Christian missionaries to store workers, again it is their prerogative – it still sits wrong with me.
So where does it leave us? Should this be OK? Should buyers protest with their wallets and refuse to shop at Forever 21? Fat chance, the shop has more turnover each year than I care to mention. And due to low prices and fashionable designs I’m sure no teenagers or twenty some things are going to care; these issues wouldn’t bother everyday shoppers, but they really should. If we set a precedent that this is acceptable we leave the door open for all religious nutbags to force their beliefs on us as long as we buy an item, which in truth we’re forced to buy due to low pricing.
The company do make donations to charities, which is fantastic, but like most religious companies there is little transparency regarding this (site includes charitable donations but it seems to me more of a missionary than a donation – I would bet they also donate bibles)
There have already been court hearings due to treatment of workers in sweat shops – a large cash settlement was made. Would Jesus endorse a company with billions in turnover that uses slave labour in foreign countries? I doubt it.
I won’t choose to shop here myself, and I advise others to take this into account before shopping there themselves, although I understand this is a losing battle. Please tell me what you would do, or what an atheists view of this should really be – I think consensus here might actually help.
A good option is to create a secular-fashionable-discount store that promotes humanism, morality, equality, fair trade and pays a good minimum wage to all employees (not just the ones we see in store but the ones in terrible conditions abroad) we need a healthy alternative that promotes freedom, peace & love, not the nasty horrors to be found in the bible (rape, slavery, genocide)
I wonder who owns Primark?