Singer Amy Grant emerged as a Grammy award winning pop artist through the channel of Christian music, making her one of the first true Christian artists to break through in pop culture. She has had a legendary career. But her new Christmas album is not getting a lot of love from the land of her roots. Tennessee faith-based retailer LifeWay is refusing to carry Grant’s new Christmas album because it’s not Christian enough.
LifeWay, the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, confirmed its retail stores are not carrying the album, but would not comment on the reasons for the decision. Both LifeWay headquarters and the Southern Baptist Convention are based in Nashville.
“We don’t discuss why we make product decisions,” said Marty King, LifeWay spokesman. “We’re presented every week with thousands of new products that we can carry. There are hundreds of thousands of products that we could carry online or in our stores. We’re only able to carry a few thousand.”
Grant’s new album, titled Tennessee Christmas, features 13 Christmas songs including the traditional hymns Joy to the World and O Come All Ye Faithful, both Christian standards. The rest of the album is filled with new original work and secular favorites such as Tennessee Christmas, White Christmas and the controversial Baby It’s Cold Outside.
The exclusion of Grant’s album from a bricks-and-mortar retailer is not likely to hurt sales (Grant’s album has had good reviews and appears to be enjoying some early success). But the bigger news of this event is that a Christian retailer is deeming — and demoting, it appears — what is Christian from a Christian artist.
The “war on Christmas” escapes no one, apparently.