Fed to the Lions

One of the more interesting phenomenas in direct e-mail marketing of late has been the proliferation of "Christian" debt advisor and dating services. A few of these services popped up at the end of last year but starting in April, it has been Noah's Flood of supposed Christian-based appeals. And lately, the graphics in these messages, which started pretty sedately, have gone evangelical. And the other strange thing... there seems to be a heck of a lot of Christians based in Boca Raton, Fla.!

The dating sector led this Christian revolution with companies such as the Christian Café and more recently Where Christians Meet. Graphically, the Christian Café, run by, is the more subtle in its messaging. A golden, soft focus image of a coffee cup with messaging like "Join the Web's Premier Christian Singles Site! 250,000 singles can't be wrong. Below is the graphic:




Where Christians Meet on the other hand is a bit more, shall we say, overt in its imagery:


Subject lines for the two site offers reflect their respective graphical imagery: While Christian Café plays up the romantic side of things with subject lines like "Find your spiritual match" and "A match made in heaven," Where Christians Meet shows a much more no nonsense approach: "Meet serious Christian singles, just like you" and "A Service for Christian Singles."

These sites actually have a place, and of course we've been seeing dating sites for quite a while now narrow in on niches, mostly based on religious affiliation be it Jewish, Christian, or Buddhist for some time now. Once we move into the realm of mortgages and debt reduction however, how should I say it... all heaven breaks loose.

Take a look at this ad from Felton Media for Christian Debt Advisor:


A person looking heavenward with the tag line: "Debt Management Services based on Christian values." And then the interesting quote: "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." Well avoid the problem for the moment of using the words "debt" and "debtors" from the Lord's Prayer in the wrong context, but instead, ask ourselves what is this ad trying to tell us? I've got my Gideon propped open and for the life of me I can't find the gospel according to Charles Schwab. I'm not really sure what debt management services based on Christian values is supposed to mean: that everyone is just going to forgive all the debts they owe and that are owed them? Not bloody likely.

My guess here is that the copywriter just thought it would be cute to include a recognizable Christian quote that mentions the word debt, regardless of the actual meaning of the phrase.

Along these lines we also have Christian Debt Councilors, Mortgage Dove, Christian Debt Management, Christian Debt Removers, Christian Debt Solutions, Christian Lending Network, and Lighthouse Christian Financial Services. All of them have similar pitches: because we are Christians, we are going to help you handle your money better.

So the question is, what is the appeal of these ads, especially in this financial sector, and what is the underlying message? Is it saying that you won't get ripped off by a Christian? Or that Christians just want to do business with other Christians? Ask followers of Jim Baker, the TV Evangelist and ex-husband of Tammy Fay who lost their life savings about that. And why don't we see Christian lawyers, Christian bankers, Christian weight reduction ads? Or maybe we will.

At any rate, I don't know about you, but for me I might go to the Episcopal Church on Sunday, but come Monday I'm headed to my accountant and debt reduction advisor: Shlomo Wasserstein!

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