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Faking It :: ’Real Marriage’ an Arranged Best-Seller?

by Kilian Melloy
Saturday Mar 8, 2014
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Pastor Mark Driscoll
Pastor Mark Driscoll  (Source:AP/Scott Cohen)

Online media sources report that it was seemingly the dollar bills of an anti-gay Christian pastor’s church, rather than the money spontaneously paid out by the faithful, that secured a spot for a book titled "Real Marriage" on the New York Times best-seller list.

the book’s author, Mark Driscoll, is the pastor of Mars Hill Church, which is located in Seattle. Driscoll shares credit on the book’s cover for its authorship together with his wife, Grace Driscoll.

World Magazine claimed that Mars Hill evidently wrote large checks -- to the tune of more than $200K -- to a marketing firm, ResultSource Inc., which bought enormous numbers of the book and followed a strategy that would seem to meet the criteria for the best seller list by distributing copies of the book to the minimum of 90 locales that are required to indicate that a book has generated genuine national interest. The article noted that creating the impression in this way that a book is a genuine best-seller is not against the law.

"According to a document obtained by WORLD, ResultSource Inc. (RSI) contracted with Mars Hill ’to conduct a bestseller campaign for your book, "Real Marriage" on the week of Jan. 2, 2012. The bestseller campaign is intended to place "Real Marriage" on The New York Times bestseller list for the Advice How-To list,’ " World Magazine reported.

When World Magazine sought comment from Mars Hill Church, the response offered was as follows:

" ...We will explore any opportunity that helps us to get that message out, while striving to remain above reproach in the process. Whether we’re talking about technology, music, marketing, or whatever, we want to tell lots of people about Jesus by every means available. That’s what we’re all about and have been since 1996."

The scheme relied in part on a church-supplied list of individual buyers, and in part on a bulk sale, the article said.

"ResultSource received a fee of $25,000 to coordinate a nationwide network of book buyers who would purchase Real Marriage at locations likely to generate reportable sales for various best-seller lists, including the New York Times list," World Magazine reported.

At Christian website Patheos, blogger Warren Throckmorton also weighed in on the scandal. Posting a copy of the contract between Mars Hill and ResultSource, Inc. (RSI), Throckmorton pointed out that "RSI uses ’over a thousand different payment types’ to evade detection.

"Somehow RSI knows that the NYT bestseller list ’requires a minimum of 90 geographically disperse (sic) addresses,’ " Throckmorton added, going on to question what role, if any, publisher HarperCollins Christian might have played in the scheme. Harper Collins Christian did not respond to Throckmorton’s inquiries.

Throckmorton noted that RSI had been the subject of an investigative report by the Wall Street Journal in 2013.

JoeMyGod noted Mark Driscoll has made controversial comments in the past, including a claim that anyone who is not a Christian is doomed to suffer the torments of perdition and men engaging in masturbation are, in effect, having gay sexual encounters -- with themselves.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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