An on-line outdoor retailer in the United States is selling camouflaged Bibles, a curious product which says a lot about American culture.
“Our NIV (New International Version) Bible in Realtree camo is our best selling item, followed closely by our camo Bible cover,” said David Lingner, the president of Arkansas-based Christian Outdoorsman, which sells Christian-themed hunting and angling products online.
The cover of this Bible is graced by leaves and tree bark. This enables the devout who also hunt to take their Bible into the woods with them while concealing it from their prey.
The C in Christian on the shop’s Web site is shaped like a fish hook while the O in Outdoorsman has a cross-shaped rifle scope site inside of it.
Also on offer is a camo waterproof Bible. “Water, ice or condensation will not damage this durable word of God,” proclaims the on-line sales pitch.
Such products are classically American and highlight cultural traits which are especially pronounced in the South.
The first is a love affair with all things cam, from pick-up trucks to baseball hats to shotguns.
“Men in the South love camo, it’s just another way to communicate that they are an outdoorsman,” said Lingner.
These products also highlight the U.S. evangelical love affair with hunting, fishing and the great outdoors.
Prominent U.S. evangelicals who engage in such activities include President George W. Bush and James Dobson, founder of the influential conservative Christian advocacy group Focus on the Family.
A U.S. survey of licensed hunters and anglers last year commissioned by the National Wildlife Federation found half of those polled identified themselves as evangelical Christians.
Evangelical Christians, who number 60 million in the United States, are a key base of support for the Republican Party, which helps to explain its stand on a number of issues including its strident opposition to gun control. Hunters don’t take kindly to restrictions on their weapons of choice.
Lingner said the evangelical enthusiasm for the outdoors went beyond the macho culture of the U.S. South.
“Because we believe that God created all this, when we are outdoors it is really a spiritual experience and we see how awesome it is. It makes being outdoors that much more meaningful,” he said.
And Christ’s disciples were fishermen after all.
There are a number of U.S. Christian outdoor ministries including Anglers for Christ Ministries, Christian Bowhunters of America and the Christian Deer Hunters Association.
Anglers for Christ Ministries said in its mission statement that it is “heeding God’s call to minister to the lost and be ‘Fishers of Men.'”