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Jun./Jul. '02 Articles:

Cruelty Under
the Big Top!

for Sale

Notes from the Cultural Wasteland

The Muddlemarch: 1

The Muddlemarch: 2

Another Oil War?

The Last Taboo

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The Selling of Christianity

by Craig Mazer

Christianity for sale! Christianity for sale! Followers wanted.

It seems that America's Christianity--the seemingly holy religion--is no better than the latest product fad. It's packaged up nicely, sold to you at a price and insistent that you don't try any other product because "this product will give you everything you need."

Driving down Interstate-4 in Central Florida, billboards with "quotes" from "God" smack you in the face. They spew comments like "Keep using my name in vain, I'll make rush hour longer. -- God," "That 'love thy neighbor' thing? I meant it. -- God" and "I love you, I love you, I love you. -- God."

Isn't this blasphemy, by definition? How does a religious person respect this commodification (and simplification) of religion? In my opinion, this lowers Christianity to the level of "cult," where the leader (the person with the money to push religion) bombards you with a combination of fear and love. I guess that's what Christianity has always been.

But the use of billboards and "Real Men Love Jesus" shirts, buttons and stickers, to name only a few of the many "marketing" tools, proves to me that religion is as useless as the thousands of "as seen on TV" products. If Christianity were as powerful as it claims, why must so many of its followers stoop to this approach? It's not only the "catchy" phrases preaching from car bumpers that bother me, but the team-mentality.

It's as if Christianity were a fraternity, trying to convince you that they can party harder, get you the places you want to go faster and save your soul better than any other frat out there. And once you sign on, did you know about the yearly dues?

Around every corner, Christianity needs your money: for stopping abortion, preventing gay adoptions, getting prayer in school, banning Harry Potter, and the list goes on. Again I'll ask: If Christianity were as powerful as it claims, why must so many of its followers stoop to this approach?

But, aha! The Christians at the top of the bible-thumping pyramid love money as much as the next American. And they're not afraid to beg and plead for your money. In exchange for your generous contributions, you get peace in knowing you just increased your chances for getting into heaven.

Don't get me wrong. Christianity does a lot of good things like feeding the homeless and helping abused children. But must it be done under this guise of religion? Must this sham of religion be used and abused when the good could be done without the crutch and crap?

GodSpeaks , the organization responsible for the billboards all over Florida, write on their web site: "The greatest e-mails and letters come from those that have expressed how God has touched them and personally spoke to them through the subtle reminders. Marriages healed, families touched, lives being realigned are just a few. This is why: God's words truly bring meaning and hope."

Maybe it's time for GodSpeaks to actually put up billboards with quotes that an all-knowing, all-seeing and all-wise being might actually say: "Please stop bombing innocent people," "Protecting the Earth should come before profiting from it," "No animal deserves to die, for food, clothing or otherwise," and "Faith in yourself is the only answer to life's problems."

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