In the busy aisles ofthe Potomac Adventist Book & Health Food Store, Dori Wooten made her way past the crystal crucifixes, books on biblical finance and scripture-embossed license plate frames in search of something profound to give for Christmas.

With a child in college and student loans of her own to repay, money is extremely tight this year for the churchgoing single mother of four from Mount Rainier. So Wooten, 37, was looking at the whole holiday gift-giving endeavor with a sharper eye.

“It gets you to focus when there isn’t money,” said Wooten, who works in a library. “What was I giving my kids before? What was I putting value on before?”

How shoppers such as Wooten answer such questions is being intensely dissected by the $4.6 billion Christian retailing industry, which is in a state of, well, soul-searching.

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