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Living in the Bible Belt, it isn’t unusual to run across billboards that proselytize the Christian faith. Ads that promise that God is listening, that things in your life will improve if you just give yourself to God.

I began thinking about these billboards. What is the actual purpose of these ads? I mean, does anyone really think that a non-believer is going to undergo some sort of epiphany because of a sign they saw while driving home from work? How many conversions have come via billboard messages?

The people posting these billboards are not fools; I’m sure they realize that the odds are that those billboards will not bring many (if any) converts to the flock. Neither are they apt to throw away money for no reason. So why are they up there? What do they hope to achieve?

I began to turn this over in my head, trying to come up with an answer. Not being privy to the decisions to spend a portion of a faith’s annual budget on billboards on Florida SR 434, I tried to understand the thought process involved. What goal could these billboards achieve, if not the salvation of the souls of would-be sinners?

This is where my cynicism began to kick in big time. Maybe there’s a deep-seated need to proclaim one’s faith in letters taller than a human being by the side of a heavily-travelled road? OR perhaps they are marking their territory. Stay out of here left wing nutjobs, gays, perverts, abortionists, sluts and communists; this is Christian territory and we don’t cotton to the ungodly here.

And that’s where my paranoia began to kick in big time. I was reminded then of the propaganda campaigns of Nazi Germany and of the Soviet Union. If you keep telling people that they are happy and secure long enough, they’ll start to believe you even evidence to the contrary. Sometimes I think they might be preaching to the converted in a subtle way – the signs in other words aren’t meant for the non-believers but meant to remind believers of what awaits them should they stray from the fold.

Proselytizing has always been a big part of the Christian faith, particularly here in the South. Part of the definition of being a good Christian round these parts is the responsibility to testify, to report the good news to all who will listen and to express that the only way to Salvation is through the Lord Jesus Christ and in particular the way their particular faith operates. No Protestant thinks that a Roman Catholic has a chance in Hell of getting to heaven, and vice versa. There is also an awful lot of “my faith is better than yours” one-upmanship among the Protestants. Of course, that hasn’t escalated into tribal warfare like the Sunni and the Shi’a have among the Muslims. At least not yet, anyway.

Still, it makes me wonder. I always got the sense that Christ taught that having faith shouldn’t be a source of pride or a means of feeling superior to others and there’s an awful lot of that among the religious these days. I can understand why atheists, agnostics and those of other faiths sometimes characterize evangelical Christians as arrogant and insensitive. I see that aspect in them every day.

I have always believed that if you’re going to be evangelical you first need to be humble. You are not better than anyone else. That’s not what your faith does for you. If you go by the teachings of Christ, you should consider yourself the least of men. You are there not because you’re better than those you are trying to convert, but because you are serving them. Christ looked at his followers as men of service, and he himself in service to them. If the son of God saw himself that way, so should you.

I am not a religious man but I am not anti-religious either. I have issues with religions being more about the agendas of men instead of the agenda of God. They should be less concerned with how they appear to the press and more concerned as to how they appear to God and his children – all of them. In that regard, they shouldn’t be looking for ways to exclude and marginalize but ways to be more inclusive and accepting.

And charity shouldn’t come at a price. The hungry should be able to go to a soup kitchen and get nourishment without having to be preached to. The sick should be able to go to a hospital without hearing a sermon. There should be no conditions to help others. And, to be fair, there are soup kitchens and hospitals that don’t do any of that. They accept anybody regardless of who they are and they don’t push their faith in anybody’s face – in fact, those that take advantage of the services they offer are surprised to find out that they are run by a religious organization.

And yet there is a fervor about being a Christian these days that’s disturbing to me. This feeling that there’s a war on Christianity in this country, that Christians are being persecuted for their faith. I think that the reason that perception might exist is because a group of fairly loud Christians are trying to push their agenda and their faith on the rest of us; creating laws that are in line with THEIR faith rather than what is in line with law.

Our country exists because people fled Europe so that they could worship the way they wished in peace. That means that people who chose to worship as a Unitarian, a Sufi, a Hindu, an Orthodox Jew, a Roman Catholic or not worship at all should have the same ability to do so without having someone tell them how to live their lives according to THEIR beliefs. That means you don’t get to impose your beliefs on gay marriage or abortion on others.

That doesn’t mean you can’t express your viewpoints. It just means that your religious beliefs don’t supersede a woman’s right to choose or a gay couple’s right to marry. Beliefs don’t trump rights according to our constitution.

So at the end of the day, Christian billboards are ok by me. If you want to promote your faith at the side of the road, you are free to do so. However, that means that if someone who is disturbed by your anti-abortion billboard decides they want to post a pro-choice billboard of their own at the next available place, that’s their right as well. While I do find that religion by road sign a little weird, it isn’t the strangest thing about religion in the Bible belt. Still, I do wonder what the thought process is behind them.


One Response

  1. Hi there, I am NOT God still I can give you ‘ an humble ‘ direction : :

    (working link at time of posting. 2015-falls)

    1. What is this story about in Brief,

    An Iowa couple plans to erect 1,000 “anti-gay marriage billboards” using and quoting their own human words as by “-God” … which it is — In my solely Opinion — very questionable to do so without quoting bible references… proving that is REALLY what GOD has told humanity in the past by his prophets and holy dedicated men and women.

    2. Who brings me to my own Christian Oriented thoughts and beliefs down here;

    **** STILL You STAY Free to believe in everything you would like to believe in or not 😉

    As Myself many believes that God’s Words — recorded in the Holy Scriptures also called THE BIBLE book — are remarkably valuable principals of good senses to live in peace which one another in a daily basis.

    Many people — including non-Christian-believers as some Sciences Good Reasons People and alike organizations across the Country Also Christians and others— could get very surprised that Financial Crises and Poverty could not happen or at least might be mitigated with the every 50 years Jubilee law during the Ancient Hebrews period prior Christ’s ministry on Earth.

    And Much more Good senses principals ARE RECORDED in the Words of God also known as the HOLY BIBLE or Scriptures.

    Like it is holy written that “God IS love” — John letters, Holy Bible — So Genuinely Soul-Loving and Following God’s righteousness ways kindness and all His Holly qualities toward anyone who we will meet in all of our living days as ourself is much more Important and rewarding than everything else in my own humble opinion.

    What do you think ?

    —Please Forget my French in this comment.

    – Wrote at 2015-10-03

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