Philip DeLizio (Maryland Christian Real Estate) Real Estate Sales Representative



Philip DeLizio
location_on Crofton, MD — Maryland Christian Real Estate
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Praying For Profits CHRISTIAN ENTREPRENEURS ARE MIXING BELIEF WITH BUSINESS. ARE THEY CROSSING A LINE--OR WILL THEIR RELIGION PAY OFF? Philip DeLizio, a real estate broker in Glen Burnie, Md., felt the time was right to join a network of Christian real estate agents: "Ever since 9/11, I think America as a whole has become maybe a little more religious or spiritual. I'm not going to say that was the reason we went into it, but the Christian community became more of a presence. We got the idea that since we have something in common with these people, why don't we try to work with them." Steven Skow, ceo of faith-based Integrity Bank, has been encouraged by President Bush's emphasis on Christian values: "We're starting to see faith become popular, right up to our leader, the President of the U.S." With 4 out of 5 Americans calling themselves Christians and 40% of the population born-again, however, the possibility of alienating customers is "a risk business owners feel they can afford to take," says Dickey. It often pays off. Despite early setbacks, Gadow's driving school has expanded to three locations; he was even able to persuade the angry student to return to church. But some Christian entrepreneurs want it both ways. In 2002, Maryland real estate broker Philip DeLizio, 47, joined the Christian Real Estate Network. Launched by Orange, Calif., broker Bart Smith to connect Christian home buyers with Christian agents they could trust, the network now has 400 agents, 50 loan officers and 100 inquiries a month. "If someone comes in on the Re/Max side, we don't say, 'Let's bow our heads in prayer first.'" Consumers offended by a business's religious bent can take their dollars next door. Employees don't have that freedom. Bosses break no laws by expressing their faith, hosting prayer picnics or painting passages from the Bible on the walls. What they can't do, says Washington lawyer Eric Siegel, is create hostile work environments for nonbelievers or discriminate by religion when hiring or firing. Melissa August/Pasadena, Md. Time Magazine - August 15, 2005

Christian businesses gain in popularity By EUNICE MOSCOSO Cox News Service Sunday, April 24, 2005 GLEN BURNIE, Md. - Philip DeLizio's real estate office looks like hundreds of others, with a few unusual touches. In addition to glossy home magazines, clients can rifle through "Biblical Archaeology Review" and "Christianity Today" in the reception area. While most advertise in the yellow pages, he prefers "The Shepherd's Guide," a Christian business phone book. DeLizio, who owns Maryland Christian Real Estate, sometimes prays with his clients, is planning to add a conference room with Bibles and other religious information, and has discouraged young couples from buying houses that they couldn't comfortably afford. "In somebody's life, buying a home is usually the biggest decision they are ever going to make monetarily, so they want someone that they are going to feel comfortable with ... someone that should have the same moral and ethical values that they do," said DeLizio, who also owns a larger RE/MAX franchise. Maryland Christian Real Estate is one of many Christian businesses growing in popularity among Evangelicals, a broad term that includes various doctrinally conservative Protestant churches that emphasize an adult commitment or conversion to faith in Christ and a focus on spreading the word of God. In addition to traditional Christian bookstores and religious keepsake shops, the faithful can now find Christian banks, Christian mortgage companies, Christian construction companies, Christian investment firms, Christian cellular phone services and Christian fitness centers. Other religious groups say they have no problem with the Christian businesses as long as they don't discriminate against employees or customers based on religion. W. Brad Wilcox, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, said that the Christian businesses are part of a shift in which religion is, to some extent, re-asserting control over other domains of social life. This is a departure from a historical trend since the Middle Ages in which other parts of society - such as education, government and business - have been breaking away from the control of religion, he said. Boston College sociologist Alan Wolfe, director of The Boisi Center on Religion and American Public Life, said that the growth of Christian businesses - along with the popularity of home-schooling and Christian universities - could lead a small percentage of Evangelicals to become isolated from the larger American culture. Such Evangelical "subcultures" would violate one of the basic tenants of the faith, which is spreading the word to others, he said. "By just re-enforcing the people who are already like themselves, they're not really doing that," he said. Chuck Ripka, a born-again Christian, said he co-founded Riverview Community Bank in Ostego, Minn., two years ago after God spoke to him and told him to do so. It is a Christian bank with a copy of the Ten Commandments in the foyer and a Bible buried deep within its foundation. Ripka prays with customers every day, sometimes after they sign a mortgage or talk about difficulties in their lives. In the office of the bank's CEO, a painting shows two businessman, one shaking hands with Jesus. "This is not about money. It's about being obedient to what God wants me to do," said Ripka. "It's not a gimmick. It's not a sales pitch. It's just who we are." The bank has been a success, building its deposits and assets from $5.5 million to $ 90 million in two years. Ripka calls it "super-natural growth" inspired by God. He claims that 90 people have accepted Jesus Christ into their hearts at the bank and that dozens have been healed from maladies, including severe back and hip pain. The bank does not force anyone to pray, but Ripka said he has never been turned down. Being a Christian is not a requirement for employees or customers at Riverview, he said, adding that it operates as a regular bank in every way, including collection services for those who are late paying loans. Irene Trammell also was inspired by God to create a business. She said she heard a "still, small voice" one day, after leaving a gym in which women could be seen exercising through large windows facing the street, and the music was loud and thumping. Her answer: "This is It! Christian Fitness for Ladies" in Pasadena, Md., which she opened last year. The gym, which has about 200 paying members, has a more modest setting, where women can't be seen from the street or the reception area. Bible verses adorn several walls and Christian music plays at all times. Trammel said that 16 women have been "saved" at the gym, including one who accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and savior while reading the Bible with her in the sauna. "We cry a lot. We hug a lot. We pray a lot at the gym," she said. Other Christian businesses have thrived on the Internet. Justin Smith and his father started the Christian Real Estate Network - - three years ago. The service allows people to find Christian real estate agents and loan officers across the country. Smith said that home buyers and sellers are looking for people they can trust and that "the faith connection is very important." He also said that Christian agents are going to know about Christian schools and churches in the area, key issues for many Christian families seeking to relocate. Most of the network's 400 agents and 60 loan officers are Evangelicals. There are a few Catholics, a fact that is "kind of a little sticky for us," Smith said. "We don't allow Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses or a few of the denominations that say that they're Christian but really, most mainline Christian denominations view them as cults," he added. Another search engine - - lists businesses ranging from bookstores to health care plans to cellular phone services. Blessed Hope communications is one of the latter. On its Web site, the company's president and CEO, Bob Ulrich, tells potential customers that some of his competitors - mainly large phone companies - support gay and lesbian events and "dial-a-porn services." "I don't believe God wants us to support organizations that are following the anti-Christian agenda," he says. "We all have choices to make and now that you know the truth, well ... we'll leave the decision up to you." The phone service claims more than 300,000 members. The Sun (Baltimore, MD) March 10, 2005 Philip DeLizio uses few overt symbols of faith in his print advertisements to promote his business, Maryland Christian Real Estate in Glen Burnie. His Web site, however, lists his beliefs, including "We are sanctified through the truth" (based on John 17:17). In his office, clients waiting to buy or sell a home can flip through the Bibles around the room or peruse such magazines as Biblical Archaeology Review and Christianity Today. DeLizio, though, takes pains to explain that his year-old firm is not much different from any of the competition. He and his agents won't read Scripture to their clients or pray before a sale. What it does mean to a fellow Christian, he says, is that he pledges to work hard and be honest and forthright. "We do business with everyone, but there is a segment of the population that is looking to do business with someone they can trust," DeLizio said. That's the main appeal of Christian companies, business owners say - that they will treat customers in a Godlike or biblical way. But being a Christian business can also have its downside, consumer experts say. Non-Christians might feel excluded or turned off by the use of religion as a sales tool. "It's the us-vs.-them mentality," Twitchell said. "Some people might see it as `aggressive' Christians. There are all kinds of overtones of paranoia, but Christians have dealt with paranoia for years." Sought-after quality Peggy Carr says she doesn't forsake quality to do business with a fellow Christian. If anything, Carr said, it's just one quality she seeks when looking to spend money. Church advertisements and referrals from other church members still play a significant role in choosing businesses. "Both my husband and I feel it is so necessary to support them because there were so few Christian businesses out there," said Carr of Annapolis. "We felt like if we supported them, there would be more out there. "It's something we look for just because if they really are who they say they are, Christian companies are supposed to be moral, they're supposed to be honest and they're supposed to provide service with higher standards." Such a notion often makes people scoff when it comes to Good Works Auto Sales company in Massachusetts, which specializes in used Toyotas and Hondas. But owner Jim Lombardi estimates that 50 percent of his clients come to him because of his faith. "Our profession has such a bad reputation," Lombardi said. "A Christian used-car dealer? People say it's an oxymoron. It doesn't make sense. It's like oil and water. But I don't mind because my business is the antithesis of that. We know we're not like that. "This is a high referral business," Lombardi said. "When you're dealing with someone who claims to be Christian, it's an understood fact that the dealings will be done with integrity, honesty, fairness and truthfulness. If you don't treat people that way, you'd be found out pretty quickly." Buyer beware Not every business that proclaims religious values necessarily adheres to them, Cooper and other Christian business owners warned. Televangelist Jim Bakker and his Praise the Lord network, after all, defrauded his contributors of millions of dollars in the 1980s. Smart shoppers would be wise to do their homework. "Our Web site polices itself," Cooper of ChristiaNet said. "If a business treats someone badly, people will complain. Just because someone says they're Christian doesn't mean they're going to treat you like a Christian." Baltimore Sunpaper  

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