First of all, let me start out by saying that my intention is not to offend anyone, nor is it to sacrilege that which is sacred to many. I also think it prudent to mention that I am a devout Christian, and I am an ardent believer in the Divinity of Jesus the Christ. Don’t worry: This is not a religious blog by any means.
I do have to point out that, just like sex, Jesus sells. I have seen a rash of marketing ploys lately that are incredulously and blatantly sacrilegious. I saw the following sign as I was traveling through the thriving metropolis of Lake Providence, Louisiana
I am pretty sure that Jesus never sat down with his disciples to a nice hot cup of joe, especially since the first evidence of coffee as a beverage dates back to only the 17th century. That and the fact that Jesus was never a college student, or struggling musician.
You certainly have seen the WWJD bracelets. Here Jesus is leveraged in order to market seven dollar bracelets that cost pennies to make. Jesus is very marketable, especially compared to other religions’ deities: I have yet to see any WWMD (What Would Muhammad Do) or WWBD (What Would Buddah Do), or WWSD (What Would Shiva Do) bracelets. There is, however a WWOD (What Would Obama Do) bracelet. I am going to run out and buy that bad boy in a microsecond.
Probably my personal favorite example of how Jesus (or rather the name) has been used to raise cash is a fellow who used to work for me in Indianapolis by the name of Jesus Turk. Jesus (pronounced like deity, not the Hispanic pronunciation Hey-Suese) was, in addition to being a factory worker by day, a rap artist who went under the nom de plum of Black Jesus. He had a brief moment of fame when the video of his single, What That Thang Smell Like (Warning, video is NSFW (not safe for work). Actually, it is not safe for any situation for that matter), appeared on BET: Un-cut. True to his stage name, he is both black, and named Jesus.
Another favorite example of Jesus being used to market a particular congregation is in Monroe, Ohio, easily visible from from I-75. This example is affectionately known as the “touchdown Jesus.” Apparently it is also known as the YMCA Jesus.
Sometimes, apparently, Jesus alone is not enough to sell certain versions of Christianity. Take for example a church down the road that I have heard referred to as “Six Flags Over Jesus” Here is a photo:
This photo doesn’t really do it justice. It has, in addition to a huge amphitheater, a gym with two regulation basketball courts, a weight room, a cardio room, a craft room and a tenth of a mile long walking track. I forgot to mention the Children’s theater. Although most artists’ renderings of Jesus show him to be athletic, I doubt if he went to a gym to do cardio.
If Big isn’t your thing, you can try the Biker’s Church. Apparently the Harley Davidson Marketing Machine is also being used by some to market Jesus. I guess if it brings some closer to Christ, more power to them.
I guess that the thing that concerns me, is that rarely in our culture do you see examples of Jesus being used to sell what I believe to be the real message of Jesus: Love. Selflessness. Service. Forgiveness. Charity.