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Todd Starnes: Costco -- the Bible is fiction
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Todd Starnes: Costco -- the Bible is fiction

Categories: ReligionOpinion

By Todd Starnes / / November 18, 2013

Costco -- the Bible is fiction

By Todd Starnes / Todd's American Dispatch / Published November 18, 2013 /

Costco -- the Bible is fiction
What do the Bible, The Hunger Games, and Fifty Shades of Grey have in common?  All three are works of fiction, according to the booksellers at Costco.

Pastor Caleb Kaltenbach made that shocking discovery last Friday as he was shopping for a present for his wife at a Costco in Simi Valley, [California].

"All the Bibles were labeled as fiction," the pastor told me.  "It seemed bizarre to me."

Kaltenbach is the lead pastor at Discovery Church, a non-denominational Christian congregation in southern California.

He thought there must be some sort of mistake so he scoured the shelf for other Bibles.  Every copy was plastered with a sticker that read, "$14.99 Fiction."

The pastor knew something must be amiss so he set off in search of a Costco employee hoping for an answer.  Unfortunately, he couldn't find anyone willing to answer his question (which is not all that surprising if you've shopped at Costco).

Since no one in the store was willing to offer assistance, the good shepherd of Discovery Church snapped a photograph of the Bible and tweeted it to his flock.

"People are pretty shocked and upset," he told me.  "We are supposed to be living in an era of tolerance, but what Costco did doesn't seem too tolerant."

I doubt they would label the Koran as fiction, Pastor Kaltenbach said.  Heaven help us if they did.

"If they don't believe in the Bible, that's fine – but at least label it as 'religion' as some bookstores do, or 'inspiration'," he said.

So does the warehouse store that sells laundry detergent by the gallon have a problem with the Word of God?

I called Costco headquarters in Issaquah, [Washington] hoping to get answers.  The nice lady who answered the phone told me she was aware of the issue and chalked it up to a "human error at a warehouse."

"It's all fixed," she said.

But actually, it's not fixed – because there's a boatload of Bibles in the Simi Valley store still marked as fiction.

At that point, the nice lady on the phone became not-so-nice and promptly informed me that Costco doesn't talk to the press.

"Nothing to report," she said curtly.

With all due respect, perhaps they should leave the reporting to the professionals and we'll leave the bulk purchases of toilet paper to Costco.

Pastor Kaltenbach said he's not one to speak out on such slights, but seeing the Good Book labeled as fiction was bit too much to take.

"On the one hand Christians should not yell out 'persecution'," he said.  "We aren't living in Iraq or Iran.  But on the other hand, I believe that we do need to stand up for our faith and we need to be vocal about our concerns."

That's a message that resonates with pastor and author Robert Jeffress.

"Let's hope Costco's explanation is true and not the result of having been caught attempting to marginalize the very foundation of Christian beliefs, the Bible," Pastor Jeffress told me.  "Christians need to call out organizations like Costco whose actions undermine Christianity – regardless of whether those actions are accidental or intentional."

Steven Smith, of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said the fiction label identifies the thinking of the labeler more than the content of the book.

"To label the Bible fiction is a practical front for an ideological foundation that assumes things spiritual are unreal," he told me.  "What is odd about this choice is the glut of books in the "religion and spirituality" sections in mainstream book stores.  However, as large as "spirituality" sections are, there must not be any room for Christianity.  Modern thinking on spirituality is too exclusive to allow for the Bible."

Of course, this entire episode could have been cleared up had a Costco employee simply answered Pastor Kaltenbach's question.

And that's the Gospel Truth.

Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations.  Sign up for his American Dispatch newsletter, be sure to join his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter.  His latest book is Dispatches From Bitter America.


I had originally re-tweeted Todd Starnes story with no intention of putting it here.  But I quickly received opposing tweets.

  • "Chill out people."
  • "It's an obvious mistake."
  • "Can't anyone take a joke?"

When I was a young boy, I remember watching the flag from JFK's casket being folded by members of the military to be presented to the widow.  It was a strange ritual, I thought, so I asked my dad about it.  He proceeded to teach me about the American flag, and the respect it deserves.  I grew up knowing how our flag should be folded, how it should be displayed, how it should be raised and lowered, etc., and it surprises me, and somewhat bothers me, to see others handling a flag like it was an old blanket.

My parents, who were devout Christians, taught me the same sort of lessons about the Bible.  If there is any book from any library or collection that deserves special attention and treatment, shouldn't it be the Bible?  Whether you're a Christian or not, isn't that book important enough to enough people to make it deserving of extra care?  The correct answer is yes.

Anytime any Bible is touched, picked up, moved, set down, opened, or closed, it should be done so with respect and care.  If you are careless or disrespectful to the Bible, you are essentially being careless and disrespectful to God and all of humanity.  In other words, you just don't give a rat's patootie about anyone but yourself.

For Costco to say "it was a mistake" is inexcusable.  One label on one Bible would be a mistake.  Hundreds or maybe thousands of labels is negligent mishandling of the most important book in history.

The lesson here is that the Bible is not just another book to be labeled or mislabeled.  It already has God's label, and you can't change that.


User Comments:
Brenda-Jo - Nov 21, 2013 03:59:03 — Well said, Jonas. I was also brought up as a strict Catholic and I respect the Bible as well. I can't remember being able to buy a Bible in a warehouse though. I always thought you had to go to a book store..... where they know what categories to put different books in. What can we expect if we trust a ware house like Costco, or whoever put the ticket on it, to figure out if it's fiction or not? Not everyone is the brightest bulb on the tree. So with that said, just expect that things don't always get done the right way unless we do it ourselves. Do understand that my thoughts are based on the type of person I am...Nothing seems to surprise me in this day and age and find it easier to just let it roll off the back of my neck. I Don't like too much the "cat and mouse fight". ;0) Your point is well respected.

"If you can't say something nice, let's hear it!"   — Joan Rivers

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