Being a small business person, marketing is a big deal to me. I have read books about it, follow business blogs on line and try to stay aware of the latest information regarding how to let customers know I exist. None of that is unique. Every business deals with how to get people in the door.

My problem may come from being in a niche business, Alternative Medicine. In my line of work convincing prospective clients that I am legitimate and have their best interest at heart is a daily hurdle.

When people come to see me, they are nervous and are looking for reassurance I am safe. It is not unusual for me to be asked if I am married, if I have children and what church I go to. My education credentials are not what they are first interested in. They need to know I am stable and normal. It is a big risk to put your health and money in someone else’s hands.

Years ago my family moved to a small rural town in the mid-west and I struggled with the problem of being thought of as a Witch Doctor. My office was viewed with strong suspicion. More than one client suggested I put a cross, or a picture of Christ or maybe a lighthouse in my office so people would know I was a Christian. They pointed out that most of the Dentists, Chiropractors and Doctors in town had religious symbols in their offices. Heck, one Doctor had religious tracks in the bathroom so you could give a urine sample and pick up a Bible verse at the same time. Another professional had a basket of mints for patients with scriptures printed on them.

I understood my clients point of view, it is reassuring to know the person you are doing business with is trustworthy. But using Jesus as a marketing tool? I just don’t like it.

First of all, I see people of all races, incomes and religions. I really don’t care what your politics are, I am here to help with your hemorrhoids. By sending strong messages about my personal beliefs (which have nothing to do with my work), I set myself apart from people who believe differently from me. I have lost a few clients over the years who decided that they couldn’t work with a “Mormon Christian.” I have no answer for those people, other than to wish them well.

I am now hyper-sensitive about this issue. I see Jesus being used by all kinds of businesses to promote their work. This includes a fish outline on business cards, scriptures being quoted in office letterhead, everyone wearing work shirts that have religious slogans, giving out office supplies that have religious text and every other thing people can slap a business phone number on. I am so anti religion-as-marketing, I refuse to have Church magazines in my office or even have pass-a-long cards sitting out. If someone wants to know what I believe, I am happy to share. Other than that, I like to keep my Temples and Money-Changers separate.

My husband thinks there is a difference between active religious promotion–Jesus as a marketing tool vs. passive religious information like having a Gideon Bible and Book of Mormon in the hotel nightstand. He doesn?t mind the passive stuff. I don’t like any of it. I assume the difference between us is because he was an awesome missionary back in the day and he hates to pass up an opportunity to spread the good news. I just want to be able to call a plumber, buy a pair of shoes or spend the night in a hotel without having to walk a religious minefield.

What do you think? Would Jesus care if He was used to promote the neighborhood lawn care service?