Article: Christian Salt (not Lot's wife)

RESAPTOWN, Md. - You've heard of kosher salt? Now there's a Christian variety.

Retired barber Joe Godlewski says he was inspired by television chefs who repeatedly recommended kosher salt in recipes.

"I said, 'What the heck's the matter with Christian salt?'" Godlewski said, sipping a beer in the living room of his home in unincorporated Cresaptown, a western Maryland mountain community. By next week, his trademarked Blessed Christians Salt will be available at Ingredients Corporation of America.

It's sea salt that's been blessed by an Episcopal priest, ICA President Damon S. Arney said Wednesday. He said the company also hopes to market the salt through Christian bookstores and as a fundraising tool for religious groups.

Rabbi Sholem Fishbane, kosher administrator for the Chicago Rabbinical Council, said marketing Christian salt as an alternative to kosher salt reflects, at best, ignorance about Jewish dietary laws. He said all salt is inherently kosher because it occurs naturally and requires little or no processing...Chefs often favor kosher salt because it's crunchy and easy to pinch.

Godlewski said his salt, packaged in containers bearing bright red crosses, has at least as much flavor and beneficial minerals as kosher salt - and it's for a good cause. "The fact is, it helps Christians and Christian charities," he said. "This is about keeping Christianity in front of the public so that it doesn't die. I want to keep Christianity on the table, in the household, however I can do it."

If the salt takes off, Godlewski plans an entire line of Christian-branded foods, including rye bread, bagels and pickles. Food industry consultant Richard Hohman, of Tampa, Fla., said Christian branding is a clever idea that could do well in the Bible Belt.

But Christine Johnson, managing editor of the trade journal Christian Retailing in Lake Mary, Fla., said marketing channels are limited. Although Christian scripture candy and Christian fortune cookies have won shelf space in some Christian bookstores, "there's a very, very small market for Christian-type foods," she said