Christian Retailing

Convergent publisher addresses gay-book controversy Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Thursday, 17 April 2014 02:22 PM America/New_York

GodAndTheGayChristian-webConvergent Books, an imprint of Random House’s Crown Publishing Group, today addressed concerns expressed by some conservative Christians regarding the April 22 publication of Matthew Vines’ God and the Gay Christian.

Cultural analyst Matt Barber of, earlier cited an unspecified source with ties to Multnomah, who said it was “reasonable to speculate that Multnomah is trying to cover up its fast-growing connection to sexual sin activism.”

The same source said: “Multnomah is now consciously trying to hide from NRB [National Religious Broadcasters] and its members the fact that it is putting out this new project,” referring to Vines’ book. He also said the “same staff, editors, executives, promoters are behind the book as are behind those put out by other ‘imprints.’ ” 

Stephen W. Cobb, chief publishing executive, oversees the WaterBrook Press and Multnomah Books imprints, whose books are more commonly carried by CBA member stores, as well as Convergent and the Catholic imprint Image.

Emphasizing to Christian Retailing that Convergent is “separate and distinct” from WaterBrook Multnomah, Cobb said: “I’ve established very distinct editorial guidelines for each of these imprints. I’m very aware of what these are. They are rigorously applied, and we’re certainly sensitive to what’s appropriate and where it’s most appropriate.”

Cobb especially noted that no staff member is forced to work on a book that is against their beliefs.

“We actually went to great lengths and have always gone to lengths here to make sure that our people here have never been required to work on anything that offended their personal beliefs,” he said. “We met with everyone in small groups and, in some cases, individually, and I can think of a couple of employees off the top of my head that asked to not participate in the publishing function regarding this particular book, and we were respectful and grateful for their candor and excused them from any involvement, so we don’t run that kind of shop here.”

Convergent Books titles are not being shopped to CBA market retailers.

“Our Christian sales force is not soliciting orders for this book, never has,” Cobb said. “It would’ve been inappropriate for them to carry this book to Christian retailing and that has not been the case.”

Cobb said that on the company’s other lists are books with different points of view on the gay issue.

“What drew me to this book was I believe this is one of the most significant issues that faces the church in our current generation,” he said. “I think it’s obvious that there’s a lot of hostility and emotion that might be clouding our approach to our brothers and sisters in Christ who have a different orientation than we do, and I don’t have the answers, but I believe that it’s an issue that needs to be dealt with more openly and in a more civil fashion in the church than what I see today.”

Click here to hear more from the publisher on this subject.