The subscription box that teaches children to do good
After being invited to the National Prayer Breakfast as student president of Bucknell University, she became one of the first eight college graduates who lived together in Washington, DC, as the youth media of “The Family,” a Christian organization then headed by Douglas Coe. The rigid and insular practices of the group have been described in Jeff Sharlet’s book “The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power”.
From there, she moved to California, co-founded the microcredit charity Kiva.org with her then-husband, and earned an MBA from Stanford. After a divorce in 2008, Ms. Jackley left evangelism. In 2011, she married Reza Aslan, a Muslim and religious studies scholar (who had also been an evangelical Christian for a time). Mr. Aslan is often on the cable news, calmly explaining Islam to an sometimes hostile audience. He wrote a book on Jesus and delved into fringe religions for his CNN show, “Believer”.
Although they bring their children to the church in Pasadena, they also wanted to give them extensive religious literacy. So in 2018, they toured the world in 80 days, visiting Jesus’ tomb in Jerusalem, participating in a Zen tea ceremony in Kyoto, and meeting a leprechaun whisperer in Ireland. They wanted other families to gain the same knowledge, but they knew their trip was not the kind of thing most people could afford to do, or wanted to do.
Upon their return, they began what they called “Home Church,” a time on Sundays where the whole family sang, prayed and read a religious story. According to Ms Jackley, this was something she could sell to spiritually curious people, a potentially huge market: in 2020, for the first time, Gallup found that less than 50% of Americans belonged to a church, synagogue or a mosque. 70% in 1999.
Daily business briefing
She focused on 10 major religions and planned to explore aspects of each in a weekly newsletter, which she then tested with families in her neighborhood. “It turned out that people are very sensitive to religion. I did not know. I am married to Reza, ”she said.
She also learned that although the children don’t want to sit through the story of Noah, they are happy to build a small ark full of adorable animals. Parents, meanwhile, didn’t even want the ark; they didn’t want religious instruction at all. They wanted instructions on how to be a better person. “There hasn’t been a lot of innovation in volunteering,” says Jackley.
She read a Stanford poll that said while 90 percent of people want to volunteer, 25 percent say they don’t because no one asked them to. “I said to myself: ‘Come on! The world is asking you, ”she said.