LifeWay Christian Stores is the retail chain of the Southern Baptist Convention under the direction of Thom Rainer who has been under fire for many years for peddling heresy to Christians for cash. Previously, LifeWay announced that they would be closing “a number of stores” in a letter sent out to employees in January due to “accelerated rate of erosion.” Today, LifeWay announced that they would be closing all stores.
Christianity Today reports,
“The decision to close our local stores is a difficult one,” said
actingpresident and CEO Brad Waggoner, who is succeeding longtime LifeWay president Thom Rainer.
“LifeWay has developed close connections with the communities where our stores are located, and we have been honored to serve those communities. We will continue serving local congregations as they meet the spiritual needs of their neighbors.”
LifeWay produces a number of curriculum and training products for Southern Baptist churches including The Gospel Project, a curriculum for Sunday School classes. However, LifeWay also sold books by nefarious authors and outright heretics. Some of the highly problematic materials the chain carried in stores over the years were T.D. Jakes, a non-Trinitarian heretic, Sara Young’s Jesus Calling, and various “heaven tourism” books — one of which the story was recanted.
In the book, The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven, Alex Malarkey, the “star” of the story wound up recanting completely and asking LifeWay to remove the book from their inventory. At the time, there was much evidence including email exchanges to suggest that Thom Rainer, the then president of LifeWay, knew the book was false and had ignored requests to remove it. It wasn’t until the story made national news that LifeWay decided to pull the book.
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LifeWay has continued to battle critics over the years who have vehemently opposed the rank heresy the store has peddled.
It comes as no surprise, however, that LifeWay is unable to maintain a stable business model in its niche. The vast majority of Christian retail stores have shuttered their brick and mortar locations over the years. Inventory for sound, biblical Christian books is low in comparison to its counterfeit competition and to maintain a competitive position in the market, a store has no choice but to compromise.
Hopefully, now that LifeWay is out of the brick and mortar market, it can begin to focus its efforts on producing sound biblical materials instead of selling spiritual poison to Southern Baptists and other Christians.