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Jennifer Knapp's sexuality causes controversy in US Christian retail
AMERICAN trade magazine Christian Retailing report there has been a mixed reception from Christian retailers in the wake of singer/songwriter Jennifer Knapp's recent revelation that she is a lesbian. Knapp, who rose to fame with a series of best selling albums on Gotee Records in the 1990s and disappeared from the Christian music scene after her 2001 release, 'The Way I Am', announced in April that she has been in an eight-year relationship with a woman.
'Letting Go', released in the US in May, was the artist's fourth album and first release since 'The Way I Am', which received a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Gospel Album. Chains and independent Christian bookstores contacted by Christian Retailing were divided on whether they would carry Knapp's music. LifeWay Christian Stores, which operated 156 stores in 26 States, said that it would not carry Knapp's new release on its website and shelves. "Jennifer Knapp has been out of the music scene for a long time and we have not been carrying her product in our stores for several years," LifeWay Director of Product Standards and Customer Relations Chris Rodgers said in a statement. "Stocking her music is not an issue since there is no demand for her product in our stores or on our website."
Kirk Blank, president of Munce Group, a retail marketing group that serves more than 560 bookstores in 49 States and Canada, said Knapp's latest release "would not necessarily be picked up by Munce member stores" since it does not have strictly Christian content. "It has been quite awhile since Jennifer's releases have been promoted," he said. "In some cases, even availability is a hurdle for the stores to purchase. What we can do is continue to pray for our industry that we will all have discernment in the products we do produce, promote and carry. And we need to continue to pray for the artists and authors who are creating the products that we sell. Romans 2:4 reminds us that God's kindness leads us to repentance. Let us be a loving community that reflects the love and kindness that we've been shown."
Steven Marsh, retail floor manager at Pee Dee Christian Book & Supply in Florence, South Carolina, said Knapp's music was pulled after her disclosure. He said, "Currently we only have her newest album in stock, which has been pulled from the shelf to be returned to the company. We feel her products would be offensive to our customers by leading them to believe we support this lifestyle. . . None of our customers have commented on Knapp's decision, but several employees were disheartened to learn that she is gay, as they enjoyed her music."
Bill Beyer, co-owner of Skia Christian store in Bentonville, Arkansas, said that the general consensus amongst their customers was, "Thank God for grace."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.