Brendan Smith (who calls himself a "reverend" in jest) has a penchant for Legos. The atheist author and children's toy aficionado has already published three popular books and he has a well-known web site -- all of which attempt to tell Biblical stories through Lego re-creations.
Now, controversy is brewing after Smith's latest book, "The Brick Bible," was recently banned from Sam's Club stores over charges that it contains "mature content." It's widely known that Smith's work does, indeed, contain some not-so-kid-friendly images.
On the Brick Testament web site, the following cautionary message is written, "The Bible contains material some may consider morally objectionable and/or inappropriate for children." Clearly, it's the re-creations that are potentially "objectionable," which is why Smith has added this slightly sarcastic cautionary note.
CNET calls the images shown on the web site, "a series of interpretations of sexually suggestive passages of the Bible." Smith, though, is confused, saying that he doesn't understand why the latest book was banned, as controversial selections were apparently removed from it.
According to Smith, Walmart and Sam's Club representatives saw an advance copy of the book and, as a result, they initially expressed interest in placing it in stores. He also claims that they were willing to sell the book only if he removed images of Old Testament Bible characters in sexual poses.
In the end, the sexual images were not included in the book. But according to CNET, a spokesperson for Sam's Club claims that the company was never involved in conversations prior to the book's publication.
Apparently, the company pulled the book following complaints from consumers. Smith, though, doesn't know for sure how many people actually spoke out against "The Brick Bible," as Sam's Club has not yet share that information. CNET did receive a vague response from Sam's Club.
"We offered the print version only of 'The Brick Bible' in our clubs....Sam's Club received numerous concerns from our members and parents about the mature content in what is perceived as a children's book," a spokesperson said. "Accordingly, Sam's Club made a business decision to discontinue sales."
On Monday, Smith wrote the following on his Facebook page:
"I have just been informed that Sam's Club is pulling 'The Brick Bible' from the shelves of all of their retail locations nationwide due to the complaints of a handful of people that it is vulgar and violent. This despite the book containing only straightforward illustrations of Bible stories using direct quotes from scripture.
The Brick Testament has won tens of thousands of fans across a wide spectrum of beliefs who appreciate it as a fun, engaging way to get a better knowledge of the Bible’s contents. I know that The Brick Bible book will not be right for everyone, but it saddens me to think that a ban at Sam’s Club will prevent thousands of people from coming across The Brick Bible and being allowed to make up their own minds about it."
Here's a 2009 report that recap's Smith's work:
If Smith's assertions about Sam's Club are true, the decision to stop selling the book may have roots in a variety of scenarious. Perhaps Sam's Club became nervous over the sexual content that is present on Smith's web site -- or, maybe the company falsely assumed that the images were still present in the new book.
Either way, Smith isn't happy over the chain's decision to remove his book.