A Michigan pastor is challenging his congregation and Christians across the country not to gossip for at least eight days. The campaign is called, "Gossip Free" and is set to begin on Friday, Aug 8.
Gossip is a timeless problem that is warned about in the Bible, fills the pages of countless magazines and even glamorized on television shows like "Gossip Girl."
Pastor Kevin Hester of The Sancutary Baptist Church in Coloma, Mich. believes there is nothing attractive about gossip.
"Gossip is very devastating and the Bible says we shouldn't do it, in fact God mentions it right next to murder in the scripture," Hester explained.
Three years ago the rumor mill turned personal for Hester. He became a victim of malicious gossip and the experience changed his life. Now he is launching a campaign against it.
Hester and his church have distributed some 2,000 "Gossip Free" bracelets along with his "Gossip Free" booklet.
"We're challenging people to go eight days, from speaking gossip and from listening to it," he said.
While many believe that gossip is just harmful chatter, Hester begs to differ. He commented, "It can be like cancer. If you don't take care of it early, it just grows and grows until ultimate destruction occurs."
Response to Hester's "Gossip Free"challenge has been tremendous and has attracted national media attention, and scores of emails from people across the country.
"Every few hours I check my cell phone and I'll read emails and one came across how a lady who's been a chronic gossipper for 40 years was just so encouraged by the movement that we're doing right now that it's changing her life," Hester said.
Residents of Coloma know going gossip free is not going to be easy.
Jennifer Moore said, "It's hard to keep from it completely, but this reminds me everyday."
Moore's 14-year-old son, Joey sees gossip as a sin.
"I see gossip as a sin, I see it as a bad thing too, but God forgives sins and if you're ready to be forgiven for them I think the first step would be try going gossip free," he said.
Some local businesses are also embracing the challenge to rid their workplaces of toxic talk.
Rebekah Trosper is a member of Hester's church and a department manger at the Benton Harbor Walmart. She introduced the "Gossip Free" challenge to her co-workers.
"We have associates trying to go against each other trying to see who's going to gossip first," she said. "They are taking it seriously. It's already reduced the gossip in the store."