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What is WWJD?

Updated on June 26, 2012

With the logo WWJD appearing everywhere, some people have have left scratching their heads and wondering what on Earth is WWJD?

WWJD stands for What Would Jesus Do?

What started out as an inspirational catch phrase for thousands of young Christians, has escalated into a world-wide fashion phenomenon.

And so you now see T-shirts, mugs, wristbands, banners, car stickers etc. all loudly proclaiming WWJD?.

So, get with it if you have been living under a rock and didn't know.

"WWJD?" is the IN-phrase among not just young folk, but Christians everywhere as well as the now infamous Occupy Movement who have done an amazing job of raising awareness about world wealth inequality.

Occupy potestestors with "What Would Jesus Do?" slogan
Occupy potestestors with "What Would Jesus Do?" slogan | Source

The phrase "What Would Jesus Do?" has been floating around the political scene for at least 20 years.

With questions such as "What would Jesus bomb?" to "What would Jesus eat?" becoming catch phrases to suit various political bandwagons and viewpoints.

Idealogically, to ask yourself "what Jesus would do?" in any given situation, is morally sound and should certainly help keep young people on the straight and narrow path in life.

Indeed, millions of young Christians the world over have adopted the mantra to help them get through their most difficult years.

Now, however, it's not just Christians, WWJD has become a fashion statement, to be worn by millions of non-Christians as well as believers.

And why not? We are all human beings, and if the WWJD trend helps keep people together, it cannot be a bad thing.

Buy In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do? at Amazon

Where did the "What would Jesus do?" trend originate?

Way back in 1896, Charles Sheldon, a Kansas Congregational minister, wrote and published a book entitled "In His Steps; What Would Jesus Do?"

In this book, the entire population of one town pledged to stop and ask themselves "What Would Jesus do?" before they did anything at all.

It must have made for an extremely interesting book, as the thoughts and rationalizing of people's minds as they asked themselves this question would have been exposed.

Perhaps this book may have lain unread except by a few, except that a mistake made by the book's publisher meant that it was never copyrighted, and thousands of other publishers seized it, republished it and sold it off cheaply.

Poor Charles Sheldon never made a cent for what turned out to be one of the most popular and successful of best selling books ever, selling an estimated 30 million copies.

The birth of WWJD bracelets

Almost 100 years later, in 1989, a Christian youth worker in Holland, Michigan, Janie Tinklenberg, had the idea of shortening the phrase to WWJD and having bracelets made up with the letters for her youth group at Calvary Reformed Church.

She had a local company print 300 of them, and asked each of her group to wear them for 30 days.

The idea caught on, and more were re-printed, but once again history repeated itself.

Janie Tinklenberg forgot to patent her idea, and others with a more commercial eye jumped in too.

A new fashion trend kicked off, and sales went global. Janie and her group were left behind, having not made any money from what is now a multi-billion dollar industry.


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