I love me some Forever 21.
When I have a bad day, I’ll stop by their two-story store in Union Square and buy myself an adorable will-rip-in-three-weeks-but-who-cares- because-it’s-so-adorable shirt. When I have a good day, I’ll push through the crowds on Broadway and purchase a bright sweater that 17 other girls probably have, but because it’s so bright and cute, I don’t care. Yes, Forever 21 is my fountain of cheap and trendy.
But it may also be my Bible Study Group in disguise.
What am I talking about, you ask? Well, the other day, after throwing one of their trademarked yellow shopping bags onto my bed, I happened to catch a glimpse of the underside of said bag. What I saw there stopped my spiritual- yet-vehemently-non- organized-religious heart dead.
There it was, in tiny, black letters. A Bible verse. A freaking Bible verse!
Screaming for my roommate, I had her verify that what I was staring at was indeed one of the more pro-Christian verses out there.
“For God so loved the world”, John 3:16 begins, “that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Oh yeah. There’s no denying. Forever 21 is all about the Big Man Upstairs.
Apparently, stamping their bags with “evidence of faith” is not a new development for Forever 21. Don Chang, the “deeply religious” owner of the chain, began putting his favorite verse on his bags after realizing that the California fast-food restaurant In-N-Out Burger had been doing the same thing for years.
Now, I consider myself a tolerant human being, and even though I really don’t do organized religion these days, I did spend 18 or so years as a Roman Catholic, so I know that all the controversy and suffocation of big religion is often countered by beauty and acceptance. But look, I feel weird buying clothes from a store that propagates messages I don’t agree with.
Every time I buy a shirt, does Forever 21 donate money to a specific church group? To a big business or politician associated with a church? Could they be using my money for missionary practices? I don’t agree with most missionary practices. Could I actually be funding something I don’t agree with simply by buying a tank top?
So many questions, and nothing but a pile of clothes for an answer.
Help me out here, precious readers. Religious or not, I want to hear your take on this whole John 3:16 debacle. Is it no big thang, or does it freak you out?