Christians boycott South Africa’s Woolworths store.

At least, they threatened to do so. Why?

Editors of three Afrikaans Christian magazines Lig, Juig, Leef and an English Christian magazine, Joy, were notified of the decision to pull their magazines from the store’s shelves recently.

Woolworths spokesman Julian Novak said that “some faith-based titles were removed from our shelves due to poor sales”.

Yesterday morning, Naidoo, head of the Family Policy Institute, sent an e-mail calling for Christians to join his family in boycotting the store, saying that the decision was “a sinister attack” on Christianity.

“Please take a stand against this injustice and write to Woolworths CEO, Simon Susman.”

I’ll bet a cookie that the majority of people who wrote incensed letters to Woolworths have never bought any Christian magazine at their stores anyway.

Christian group Women in Action and the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa joined the call for a boycott and demanded yesterday that the store bring back the magazines immediately.

National chair of Women in Action, Maryn Botha, said: “Afrikaans women comprise a big part of Woolworths’ support base.” She said it was a “crying shame” that their needs were not considered.

But they didn’t need the magazines enough to buy them, did they? Otherwise Woolworths wouldn’t have felt they needed to be pulled.

Christian radio station Rainbow FM hosted a talk show on the topic, and two callers phoned to say they would join the boycott. Radio presenter Ntombikayise Phiri-Kanyoka said “the general feeling from the callers was it’s just a business decision and that’s it”.

Late yesterday, Woolworths gave in and released a statement saying the store had “now decided to put all magazines back” on its shelves after they were “overwhelmed by the response from our customers”.

Novak said: “It was not our intention to offend any faith-based group.”

Sneeze wrong and you offend a faith-based group. They’re always on alert for perceived, imaginary, rights violations. This business is no exception.

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