WWJD? Is it a Successful way for Christians to Follow their Faith, or Has it Become a Dying Trend?

In my paper I talk about WWJD. It is an acronym for What Would Jesus Do? The term originated from Charles Sheldon’s 1895 book “In His Steps” which explains what could happen if we asked ourselves daily the question “What Would Jesus Do?”  The meaning behind it all lies directly in the term, What Would Jesus Do? Christians would imitate Jesus by doing things such as giving to the needy, or stopping themselves from doing things that he would not have done.

This term was designed into many different products such as bracelets (which were the most popular), shirts, jewelry, mugs, hats, shoes, bags, and more. These products vary in color and designs to appeal to the consumer and make people want to use them everyday in hopes of influencing them to walk in Jesus’ footsteps.

What Would Jesus Do?

The term became very popular in the 1990’s and is still used today but seems to be losing its significance since people are using it less and less. Which is the argument I base my paper on. Are these products useful in promoting Christian ways or have they become a dying trend which consumers now only produce for a profit?

The question is whether or not people take the acronym WWJD seriously. This video is an example of how it is not taken seriously. They are using a Ford pick up truck, alcohol, guns and more to represent what Jesus would use, as a joke to what Jesus would do.

** Note: The headline under the video says “A music video to watch while you skip church this Sunday.”

WWJD Music Video

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WWJD? Products

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Annotated Bibliography

Annotated Bibliography

WWJD Products: Beneficial or Not?


“WWJD Bracelet.” WWJD Bracelet | Best Bracelets. Web. 2 Apr. 2011. <http://wwjdbracelet.net/>.

This is just a short website which sells WWJD bracelets. They are sold in many different colors, sizes and materials. It gives a brief history of the bracelet and where the acronym came from. This website is useful because my paper is based on the marketing of WWJD products and the bracelets are where it all began. There is also contact information on the page, explaining how you can get in touch with them if you have any comments, concerns or interests in purchasing the bracelets. This site is intended for people who are interested in WWJD and wearing their bracelets.

2. Snider, Brian. “What Would Jesus Do? W.W.J.D.” Jesus -is-Lord.com: Jesus Christ Is the ONLY Way to God. Web. 2 Apr. 2011. <http://www.jesus-is-lord.com/wwjd.htm>.

This article argues that WWJD products are useless and people who buy them are not doing what Jesus would do. The author mentions several excerpts from the bible to prove his opinion. He gives advice on what a person should do to follow in Jesus’ footsteps rather than purchase these products. He argues that Jesus would never create nor buy these products so a person who does so is not doing what Jesus would do. This article was most important for my article because it helped me choose my argument and fight with it. It shows a different point of view on the WWJD products rather than the beneficial views normally portrayed.

What Would Jesus Do? Web. 2 Apr. 2011. <http://www.wwjdmovie.com/>.

This was an extra cite that I’m not really sure I am going to add to my paper. I found it interesting to discover there was a movie called “WWJD” which was inspired by the book “In His Steps” by Charles Sheldon. On this website there is a section about the movie, a place to contact the producers and a section where you can purchase the movie and other materials to create a movie night at your church with this movie. The movie is about a reverend who goes through many difficult scenarios and sets off with five other parishioners to “make a difference” just as Jesus would. This site could be useful for my paper to emphasize the marketing of WWJD. On this site which has nothing to do with the bracelets or apparel, they are still trying to sell WWJD.

4. Partridge, Ernest. “What Would Jesus Do?” Environmental Ethics and Policy: “The Online Gadfly” Oct. 2002. Web. 2 Apr. 2011. <http://gadfly.igc.org/liberal/WWJD.htm>.

This website took everyday scenario questions and answered them with what Jesus would do. Similar to Brian Snider’s article the author uses excerpts from the bible to answer the questions and make his point. I felt like this could go hand in hand with the Snider article to prove my argument. By using excerpts from the bible which is something that is set in stone not just a person’s opinion, it is easier for them to prove that their ideas are correct. This article shows that the bracelets are not needed to follow in Jesus’ footsteps rather just use the bible.

5. “What Would Jesus Do?” What Would Jesus Do? Web. 7 Apr. 2011. <http://www.whatwouldjesusdo.com/>.

This was another marketing site which is all about profiting from WWJD products. As soon as you open the page you see “SALE* SALE* SALE*” with coupons and advertisements on new products. On the website it says “Our wearable messages offer you the opportunity to boldly proclaim the good news!” From that page you can enter the store and purchase these products. There are images as well to try and woe the person in to buying them showing that they are receiving a discount. This is just another website advertising the products so the company can make a profit off of WWJD.

6. “WWJD… What Would Jesus Do?” Squidoo : Welcome to Squidoo. Web. 7 Apr. 2011. <http://www.squidoo.com/wwjd>.

This website goes over what Jesus has done and where the term “What would Jesus do?” came from. This is yet another example which uses the bible as a reference to explain Jesus’ doings. At the beginning of the article it says “in order to know what Jesus would do, we must know what he did do, right?” It then breaks into five categories of what he has done: humility, service, glorify God, prayer, and sacrifice. After speaking about WWJD history it begins with telling you a little about Jesus because we have to know who he truly is and understand what he has done in order to accept WWJD. This is a good reference for my paper because it shows the reason of the WWJD prducts and the story behind it all.

“Axis Of Awesome – What Would Jesus Do? Lyrics.” Lyrics, Song Lyrics  LyricsMode.com. Web. 2 Apr. 2011. <http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/a/axis_of_awesome/what_would_jesus_do.html>.

This was another “extra” website. I’m not sure if I will need to use it to write my paper but I felt like the lyrics to this song could defend my argument. This song is very offensive especially to a Christian or Jewish person or someone who believes in Jesus Christ. Not only does it curse in the song which is a sin but it puts people down saying that it is useless to ask themselves what Jesus would do and they will never be able to fill his shoes and perform miracles so there is no reason to even try. This can relate to my argument as to why wear apparel that says WWJD. By having it on it will not turn you into Jesus nor change you into a miracle maker.

8. “What Would Jesus Do?” Following Jesus – AllAboutFollowingJesus.org. Web. 7 Apr. 2011. <http://www.allaboutfollowingjesus.org/what-would-jesus-do.htm>.

This website was very similar to the squidoo.com website because it goes into the history of WWJD just like most of my other sources but it explains who Jesus is and what he has done for his people as well. It makes a clear point for everyone to understand who Jesus is in order to understand WWJD. Since this article works hand in hand with squidoo.com I can use them both to speak about Jesus and the history of WWJD in my paper.

9. Farnham, Margaret. “The Lutheran | WWJD: In the Beginning, It Was about Ministry, Not Marketing.” The Lutheran | The Lutheran – Home. Web. 6 Apr. 2011. <http://www.thelutheran.org/article/article.cfm?article_id=321>.

This article was very short but it tells you where the term “What would Jesus Do?” came from. A Michigan woman said it one day in her youth group to encourage people to do the right thing and think as Jesus would, but did not have any intentions for it to turn into a huge marketing profit. The bracelets were created to symbolize ones commitment to their faith, similar to the idea of a wedding band where a couple commits to one another. Even though this article was very short it is useful in my research because it tells me the idea of WWJD, where it originated before marketing and the purpose of it all.

Cave, Damien. “Salon.com Business | What Would Jesus Do — about Copyright?” Salon.com – Salon.com. Web. 6 Apr. 2011. <http://www.salon.com/business/feature/2000/10/25/wwjd/print.html>.

This article begins with the history of WWJD and the mastermind behind it Janie Tinklenberg, which I already have learned about in my other sources. This one is different because it explains how Tinklenberg has no rights to WWJD. Since she didn’t trademark the acronym when it was first created, it is too publicly spread to try and copywright it today. All she can do today is sue companies that market products that “defame” her idea. This article is perfect for my argument because it goes to show that behind all of the good reasons for WWJD there is always profit. Jesus would never want a profit from his products (many of my previous articles argue) so why are the creators of these products today working so hard to earn a profit on something that is supposed to benefit the people of their congregation?

Academic Articles:

Falsani, Cathleen. ““WWJD (aka Using Jesus as a Marketing Tool)” by Cathleen Falsani « USC Catholic Center Social Justice Blog.” USC Catholic Center Social Justice Blog. 7 Jan. 2010. Web. 6 Apr. 2011. <http://ccsocialjustice.wordpress.com/2010/01/07/wwjd-aka-using-jesus-as-a-marketing-tool-by-cathleen-falsani/>.

The author explains that “WWJD turns a noun into an adjective and then makes it into a label that can be applied to anything and everything, reflecting nothing about what Jesus actually said or did.” This quote alone fully supports my argument. The article focuses on how we really don’t know what Jesus would do. He didn’t write the bible and none of us were alive to know him so it is difficult for us to take these bracelets and try to use them to relate to Jesus.

2. Simmons, Staci. “Wwjd? – Research and Read Books, Journals, Articles at Questia Online Library.” Questia – The Online Library of Books and Journals. 1999. Web. 6 Apr. 2011. <http://www.questia.com/googleScholar.qst?docId=5001248541>.

This article was a bit different from the other sources I’m using. WWJD originates from a book by Charles Sheldon and that is exactly what this article is about. Simmons focuses on the Sheldon’s story, the themes behind it and how it lead to WWJD today. It can be beneficial to my paper because it takes a different toll on the history of WWJD. Rather than just speak about where it came from and what it is, it goes into detail of the story it originated from which may give me extra information that could be helpful .

3. “What Would Jesus Do – Beyond Theology.” KTWU. 2007. Web. 7 Apr. 2011. <http://ktwu.washburn.edu/productions/WWJD-BT/>.

This article is all about the book which WWJD is based upon. In His Steps by Charles Sheldon is the book which the acronym What Would Jesus Do came from. This article speaks about the book, the history of Sheldon and the meaning of it all. Since I already have a reference about the book this will add to it with more on Sheldon’s life.

4. “WWJD Products Inspire Thousands.” Christianity Today 1997: 75. ATLA Religion Database. Web. 7 Apr. 2011. <http://web.ebscohost.com.queens.ezproxy.cuny.edu:2048/ehost/detail?sid=4a2cb96e-8a13-4cfc-9b84-4a24479c5a99%40sessionmgr110&vid=19&hid=119&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=reh&AN=ATLA0001006007>.

This article provides many quotes from people who wear the WWJD bracelets. I felt this article was necessary for my paper to gather some insight on peoples opinions who wear the bracelets. To gain a personal perspective and first hand experience allows the reader to understand the effects better. It slightly goes into the history of the bracelet which I will not really need since I have so many other sources for this, however the difference between this article in comparison to the rest is the quotes, which I am going to use.

Gately, Gardner. “Some Thoughts on the WWJD? Bracelet | ETC.: A Review of General Semantics | Find Articles at BNET.” Find Articles at BNET | News Articles, Magazine Back Issues & Reference Articles on All Topics. CBS, Apr. 2004. Web. 7 Apr. 2011. <http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb6405/is_1_61/ai_n29091641/?tag=rel.res5>.

This article supports my argument. The author is not against WWJD bracelets but rather brings up everyday scenarios where a person is going through difficult times and asks the reader what would Jesus do? She argues against Bush and Gore’s idea that Jesus is the most important person in their life, and its effects on politics. It is obvious the author does not believe the bracelets play a significant role in the lives of Jesus’ followers but rather are an icon to make others believe they are true followers.


1. Harrison, Nick. 365 WWJD?: Daily Answers to What Would Jesus Do? [San Francisco]: HarperSanFrancisco, 1998. Print.

This book is simply ways for people to follow in Jesus’ footsteps every day of the year, hence the title 365 WWJD. Just like many of the articles I am using it gives scenarios and then uses Jesus as a way to live the correct way and strengthen ones Christianity. I believe I could use some of these examples in my paper to show how the acronym does not relate to how we solve the scenarios.

2. Robie, Joan Hake. If I Only Knew–: What Would Jesus Do? New York: Warner, 1999. Print.

This book was inspired by Tom Sheldon’s book which I am going to mention in my paper since so many of my previous sources did so. In the book are over 100 questions a person may go through everyday. Questions with struggles just like previous references, where people may ask Jesus for help or use WWJD to get out of their dilemma. The answers to these questions are found through scriptures from the bible and  are used to help people follow in Jesus’ footsteps and do as he would do.

3. Einstein, Mara. Brands of Faith: Marketing Religion in a Commercial Age. London: Routledge, 2008. Print.

Einstein’s book is about marketing religious brands. I felt this book was useful for my paper since WWJD is a religious brand. Since I am arguing against marketing WWJD I feel like this book can help me prove why. The question I am looking for in the book is whether or not this form of marketing is beneficial or negative to the consumers/producers.

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Proposal & Outline

WWJD: Do You Rep’ It?

What would Jesus do? Jesus is the son of God who performed many miracles, was crucified for his people and rose from the dead. He was a man of good doing, hence people want to follow in his footsteps. In the late 1990’s marketers created the acronym WWJD (what would Jesus do) to sell products that would promote Christianity. By wearing these products a person is left to ask themselves if what they are doing is something Jesus would do. These products were a great hit which started off with bracelets then turned into clothing and more.

Not only did they make money from these products but they were able to enforce a sense of religion and Christianity in their consumers, or at least that is what they intended to do. The argument I raise here is, did these products really work? When people wore them did they feel more interacted with God and feel as though they were following in his footsteps by making choices that he would make?

Today WWJD products are not advertised or sold as much as they were in the 1990’s. What is the reason for the decline? In numerous articles I have found the purpose of these products and why people bought them, however in an article by Brian Snider he argues that these products will not help you follow what Jesus has done. Instead he recommends the consumers to take off the bracelets and instead live a life free of sin such as by canceling their cable company.

These products were just a way to make a profit off of something that seemed like a “good-doing.” They people who started it should consider themselves sinners because they are collecting money off of “spreading the word of god.”



Introduce the topic of WWJD products (ie: how they began, when they became popular, who wore them, what was their purpose)

State my argument: The products were mainly used to make a profit. They purpose behind them was not strongly emphasized by wearing the products. There are other ways to follow your religion and this way was not successful.


Paragraph 1:

More into depth on the history of WWJD products.

Paragraph 2:

My argument; why I disagree with the success of these products.

Examples of other ways to follow your beliefs.

State the targeted audience and the effects the products had on them.

Mention Snider’s article.

Paragraph 3:

Mention other examples of trying to promote Christianity and their success.

Compare WWJD to these products, to see which if either was more successful.

Compare class readings such as Einstein’s book to my ideas because it relates to marketing such products.


Return to my argument and state my opinion.

What I believe should be done to promote Christianity.

Where I believe the money for these products should go.

Changes that I would make towards the idea of WWJD products.

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First post.


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