Respectful Insolence

A WTF? fundamentalist moment

I was in Lansing, MI giving a talk at MSU the other day. Although time was very constrained and I didn’t get to see much of the campus at all, on the way back to the airport, I saw a very odd fundamentalist billboard. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a picture of it with my cell phone camera; so I’ll have to do the best that I can by memory to tell you what it says.

The billboard said something like this (I could be off considerably in the exact phraseology, but this was the gist of the sign):

Forgive us, O Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Too long we have relied upon the automobile industry instead of Your beneficence, and now we are suffering for it. We turn to You and ask that You hear our prayer and restore prosperity to our community.

So, let me get this straight: Jesus is punishing Lansing by throwing American carmakers’ sales and profits into the crapper just because the people of Lansing (and, I presume, the entire state of Michigan) have supposedly relied on the auto industry instead of God? And, I suppose, He did it by making the Big Three executives fail to realize that, with gas prices going up, SUVs aren’t as popular as they once were, resulting in their continuing to rely on big SUVs for the bulk of their profits. Or maybe God interfered with their car designers so that they produce products that people don’t want to buy. Or perhaps drove up the cost of health benefits for unionized workers to make it hard for the carmakers to be competitive on price. The possibilities are endless. Who knew God was such a micromanager of industry?

Who comes up with this stuff? I wonder if there are more of these signs and, if so, whether Ed has seen any of them?

ADDENDUM: A reader in the comments has found a photo of the billboard in question, and I’ve placed it below the fold for you to check out.

i-cd40073b162b8c3e52e5da36fe6418b6-michbig.jpg

Yep, I got the gist right, even though my memory of the exact wording wasn’t so hot. On the other hand, I saw it for only a few seconds as we drove by…

Comments

  1. #1 W. Kevin Vicklund
    March 2, 2007

    Oh, yeah, there are a few around. That’s more idiotic than most, though.

  2. #2 gonzoknife
    March 2, 2007

    If things are that bad in the area, shouldn’t the money used to fund the billboard have been put a better use? You know, like feeding the poor? WWJD?

  3. #3 Julie Stahlhut
    March 2, 2007

    I don’t understand. Were auto-industry employees supposed to pray for their money instead of expecting a paycheck at the end of the work week?

    Incidentally, I lived for 13 very happy years in Michigan and encountered people of all sorts of religious and non-religious orientations there, but never once did I hear anyone addressing a prayer to the president of GM.

  4. #4 John McKay
    March 2, 2007

    Who knew God was such a micromanager of industry?

    After taking care of the results of high-school sporting events, one wouldn’t think He had time for industry.

  5. #5 son2
    March 2, 2007

    Hey, is this what you’re talking about? Why don’t you learn how to FGI?

  6. #6 Brian Ford
    March 2, 2007

    You know, the most baffling part of all this for me is the amusing assumption that God reads billboards.

    Perhaps billboards are the best way to deliver a message to the heavens. They’re certainly high up off the ground!

  7. #7 James
    March 2, 2007

    Ok as an economist I can say that I am now officially pissed off!

    Its bad enough that the fundies corrupt biology, cosmology, geology, theology, mathematics, statistics, ethics and politics, but now its personal.

    Keep your fithly fundie hands off my discipline!

    (BTW I am about half-kidding)

  8. #8 Ahcuah
    March 2, 2007

    Why should he learn to Google it when he got you to do it for him?

  9. #9 Orac
    March 3, 2007

    Hey, is this what you’re talking about? Why don’t you learn how to FGI?

    I tried. For some reason I couldn’t find it.

  10. #10 Snakelass
    March 3, 2007

    You’d think that whoever bought it could have had someone competent proofread it. Shouldn’t it be “In Jesus’ name”?

  11. #11 Wes
    March 3, 2007

    I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the very people asking the Invisible Googly Moogly in the Sky to restore “invention, productivity and prosperity” (things usually gained by human effort) are the same people claiming the poor are poor because they’re “lazy” and constantly trumpeting cliches about “personal responsibility” whenever anyone but themselves has a problem.

  12. #12 Prometheus
    March 3, 2007

    The idea that God needs to be nagged (or could be nagged) into providing health, wealth and/or happiness for people is a bit beyond me. After all, an omniscient and omnipotent (and ominipresent) being should hardly need to be informed that the auto industry in Michigan isn’t doing well. So why would God wait until enough prayers were offered to finally give the folks at GM, Ford et al the kick in the fanny needed to rebuild their plants in Michigan?

    Of course, it could be that God is already sending a message to the people in Michigan, similar (but of a lower intensity) to the message reportedly sent to the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrha in the past. Having failed to heed the devine prophets who warned of destruction if the unions failed to reign in their hubris, perhaps God has decided to destroy the auto industry in Michigan.

    Or, alternately, it has nothing to do with God at all.

    I’m all for the alternate interpretation.

    Prometheus

  13. #13 Bob C
    March 3, 2007

    Sure sounds like they are praying, “Please forgive us for our sins and give the local economy a boost so we can get back to sinning again.”

  14. #14 josh
    March 5, 2007

    “You’d think that whoever bought it could have had someone competent proofread it. Shouldn’t it be “In Jesus’ name”?”

    I think people happy to reject every principle of science and common sense don’t worry too much about spelling.
    ‘he says while desperately trying not to make a hugely ironic spelling mistake’
    ‘he writes realising that’s not technically the meaning of irony but screw it he likes it that way, along with talking about himself in the third person. Hmm, it’s really quite addictive, he thought, deciding he should stop typing before he looked even more pretentious’