Three online shops that sell rosaries have reported a boost in sales following a controversial article published Sunday in The Atlantic magazine which attempted to link the rosary to right-wing extremism in the United States.
In the article, Daniel Panneton claimed, “The rosary has acquired a militaristic meaning for radical-traditional (or “rad trad”) Catholics.”
“Militia culture, a fetishism of Western civilization, and masculinist anxieties have become mainstays of the far right in the U.S.—and rad-trad Catholics have now taken up residence in this company,” he continued.
The article sparked a frenzy of comments on social media, as Catholics shared photos of their rosaries. Some observed that the article's thesis had an anti-Catholic bias.
Shannon Doty, CEO of Rugged Rosaries, told CNA Monday that she saw “a pretty good boost in sales” on both of her websites, RuggedRosaries.com and MonkRosaries.com amid the reaction to the article.
Rugged Rosaries sells durable rosaries, inspired by rosaries that used to be used in the military during World War I.
Doty said that both websites have a loyal customer base and added that “we are not discouraged, and are in fact strengthened in our determination to make strong rugged rosaries for everyone.”
Doty began making rosaries out of paracord for her son’s friends in the army more than ten years ago. She began selling a "Soldier's Combat Rosary" and it gradually turned into a business.
Jonathan Conrad, founder of the Catholic Woodworker, told CNA Tuesday that his company had the best sales day of the month on Monday.
“It wasn't anything special relative to the rest of the year, but best this month,” he said.
The mission of Catholic Woodworker, he said, “is to equip families for battle in the modern world, with a scriptural emphasis that we are not contending with flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers of this present darkness.”
The World Apostolate of Fatima USA in Asbury, New Jersey, has also reported a boost in sales of the rosary since The Atlantic article was published.
David Carollo, executive director of the apostolate told CNA Tuesday that there was a sure boost in sales of the rosary and other religious items. He said there has been lots of “buzz” since the “downright insulting” article ran and added that he plans to respond to it with his own article. The apostolate's social media also gained an increase in followers, he said.
“We don't pray against people, we pray for people,” he added. “That's what the rosary is all about.”
The apostolate’s mission is to foster devotion to Our Lady of Fatima by helping people understand the Blessed Virgin Mary’s requests to establish peace on earth and spread devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Pierce Toomey, who runs the website catholicguardians.com said his rosary sales only received a small increase after The Atlantic article. However, he said, his social media following increased.
Toomey said after starting his rosary business, he realized that masculine-styled rosaries were a tough find at a good price. “To put the rosary back into the hands of young men it needs to appeal to them aesthetically and that won’t happen if the only rosary you can find is rainbow colored or an antique,” he said.
Toomey made an Instagram story posting a photo of The Atlantic article’s headline and wrote: “Hosting another sale for all the ‘rad trads’ out there ‘co-opting’ the Rosary. Use code ‘theatlantic’ for 20% off any masculine rosary.”
Fr. Donald Calloway, M.I.C., whose talk on the rosary has received over 2 million views on YouTube, told CNA Tuesday that he did not know whether there was a boost in sales at his congregation’s online gift shop. However, he did report a “massive increase” in followers on his social media accounts.
Saddle up, brothers! Time for another rosary crusade! Viva Cristo Rey!
Roman Catholic Gear, which is included in links three times in The Atlantic article, also told CNA Wednesday that their sales are up and are offering buyers 15% off their orders with promo code "ATLANTIC".
Joseph Bukuras is a journalist at the Catholic News Agency. Joe has prior experience working in state and federal government, in non-profits, and Catholic education. He has contributed to an array of publications and his reporting has been cited by leading news sources, including the New York Times and the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the Catholic University of America. He is based out of the Boston area.