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The Bible and Pop Culture

What was the “WWJD” trend?

During the 1990s, WWJD bracelets became popular. WWJD stands for “What Would Jesus Do?” The bracelets made their first appearance in Holland, Michigan in 1998. Youth pastor Dan Seaborn had a few bracelets made for the teens at his church. Then Seaborn and brothers Mike and Ken Freestone collaborated on how to manufacture and distribute the bracelets to a wider audience. The bracelets caught on, not just in Christian circles, but on the secular stage as well. The bracelets proved so popular that buttons, hats, and other merchandise followed. Seaborn had been inspired by Charles Sheldon’s 1896 book, In His Steps. In this book, a pastor challenges the people in his church to ask themselves “What would Jesus do?” before they made any decision.

Popularity of the WWJD slogan prompted a flurry of more “What Would” merchandise, including the books What Would Jesus Eat? (2005) by Don Colbert, and What Would Jesus Deconstruct? (2007) by John D. Caputo. Some of the merchandise did not have to do with Jesus at all, but simply borrowed from the wording. This category includes the reality TV show What Would Ryan Lochte Do? and the book What Would Google Do?: Reverse-Engineering the Fastest Growing Company in the History of the World (2011) by Jeff Jarvis.


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