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The USA’s ‘God’ probably lives in a cornbelt state


America is full of religious freaks and the word of God is everywhere.

God cannot be avoided. He’s on television, the Internet, road signs and the radio. His word is written on the sides of trucks and on car bumper stickers. And it’s not just in the Bible Belt, the traditional God-fearing region of the South, it’s everywhere.

I was on a plane flying to Flagstaff, Arizona. Lucy and I had been allocated separate seats by the liar at the check-in counter and I was jammed in against the window next to a big fat ogre. He was wearing a suit and was breathing and sweating hard. He turned on his iPad and began reading. I was reading along with him. The title on the first page was ‘New World of Holy Scriptures’ with the heading ‘Draw Close to God’.

‘Christ,’ I thought. ‘The bastards have brought mobile technology to their pathetic cause.’

The article was an in-depth analysis about why Jehovah Witnesses go door knocking, with comments and quotes from various leaders of the Church. I never got the answer to that perennial question as the selfish cad saw me reading over his shoulder and angled the screen away so I couldn’t see it. Meanwhile, the hypocritical prick took up two-thirds of our seats, as well as the entire arm rest, and kept reading as we were landing, despite the announcement to switch off all electrical items. I guess when you’re reading the word of the Lord, an exception can be made.

Dog Days by Andrew ThompsonOf course, like in all guises and areas that religion exists, hypocrisy is rife in America. Close to nearly every roadside billboard about God, is another advertising an adult superstore. America produces more pornography than any other country. There are adult superstores dotted along every major highway in the US, warehouses just off the road catering to every need of the perverted church-goers in terms of toys and outfits. Surely at least a couple of the sacred commandments must be broken with that coupling. Or perhaps the superstores aren’t there to attract the celibate Christians, but merely strategically placed as an enticement to the Mustang Men to pick up a little something special for Christmas when driving back from an out of town bender.

God’s roadside signs are just as brazen and obvious as those of the superstores. Fear and implied threats comprise their general tone. ‘Ready or not, Jesus is coming,’ read one sign in West Virginia, while another just outside of Yosemite National Park read ‘This is a test of your loyalty to God’.

The test was not explained, but I’m sure those in the know would have somehow been made aware. A ‘God is watching us!’ banner in Texas felt more judgemental than protective, and ‘The only hope for America is Jesus’ seemed a little desperate. Yes, there are rules and scripture on enormous road signs all over the place and they usually carry an implied or direct threat. We saw one sign that was thirty feet high on the outskirts of Denver, Colorado. It simply listed out the Ten Commandments. Driving west of Chicago there was a sign just off the road for ‘Highway Evangelist’ and a toll-free 1-800 phone number. The caption read ‘You need God. He will save you. Call now!’ The Yanks effectively don’t pay for phone calls. Virtually every business has a toll-free 1- 800 number.

On the off chance you miss these roadside signs or don’t have a mobile phone to get your driving fix, the public have taken up the cause as well, displaying timely quotations on their vehicles. Many cars have subtle stickers of that Jesus fish symbol, while others have bumper stickers with helpful reminders such as ‘Found Jesus Yet?’, ‘Christ is The Answer’ and ‘Christ is the King’. Many simply read ‘God Bless America’. Some people have the Jesus fish symbol on their actual car number plate. It’s not a sticker, but is painted on and part of the plate. Presumably, this must be arranged through the transport department. One car had no numbers or letters on its plate at all, just the words ‘God bless Our Nation’. The motto on all Alabama state plates is ‘God Bless America’. Quite a few commercial trucks have Bible quotations written on the back. A lot of them merely refer to ‘John 3:16’ with no other text. I looked it up. Sometimes referred to as ‘the Gospel in a nutshell’, the verse reads: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ I had no idea how that related to hauling frozen goods across America, but it was only the truckers that were spreading this word.

Dog Days by Andrew ThompsonAnd if you happen to be a blind driver, there’s no need to fret. The word of God is not hard to find on the radio. In fact, it’s hard to avoid. Christian radio makes up around one in three channels. The other two are generally Country stations, or a mixture of Christian and Country. Some are Christian Country. Driving in Oregon we decided to have a break from the iPod and tried the radio. The first three FM stations, and six in the first nine, were Christian. A number of these were religious ranting stations, with the usual threats and aggression to keep the mob in check. We listened to one for a few minutes. There was a man yelling, punctuating the prophecy with pregnant pauses. It was almost as if the heathen was in the car with us.

‘To live a Godly life you must be persecuted,’ he screamed. ‘Jesus said this. You may be persecuted by your family or you may be persecuted at your work. But you will be persecuted. It will happen. You might be persecuted at work, but you’ll be rewarded in Heaven. You might miss out on a promotion at work, but you will be promoted in Heaven.’

‘Cogent arguments,’ I said to Lucy, who couldn’t stand it anymore and was reaching for the radio to change the channel.

Religion is advertised constantly on American television as well. One organisation was called Christianmingle.com. It was a dating agency.

‘Good news for you single Christians out there,’ said a cheesy young preacher wearing a suit and standing too close to the camera. ‘We have thousands of young Christians out there just waiting to meet you.’ The ad ended with the catchphrase, ‘Find God’s match for you’. Perhaps they should have teamed up with an adult superstore.

God really is all around you in America. When you’re not getting inundated via the media, you’re getting hammered in your car. And you’re not safe on foot either. We saw many people with god-bothering slogans blazoned across their Tshirts or caps. Most caps simply read ‘I Love Jesus’, or the more pithy ‘Jesus’, unless I was mistaken and there were a lot of people by that name. Waiting for a flight at an airport in Austin, Texas, a woman sitting near us sneezed. She was assaulted from all directions, even at a distance, by strangers saying ‘God bless you’. In that same airport I overhead a discussion between two people who were getting to know each other.

‘Have you got a husband or boyfriend?’ one lady said to the other.

Dog Days by Andrew Thompson‘No, I don’t,’ she answered. ‘I’m in a committed relationship with God.’ Like most religious nuts, she was rather ugly, but I was tempted to direct the lonely soul to the Christian Mingle website.

Should the barrage of religious advertising somehow pass you by in America, there is absolutely no excuse for not attending church in person. Chestnut reasons such as not being able to find a church that caters to your strain of faith do not wash in America. In the Texan desert I saw a rickety old barn with a cross on the top and a sign out the front— ‘Cowboy Church’. In Monument Valley a sign in the middle of the desert was for a ‘Coven Church’, presumably catering to the witches in the region. In Cody, Wyoming, there was a list of churches in a brochure about the town—for a population of only 9,520, thirty churches were listed. Mariposa in California has a population of 2,173. A large sign by the side of the road in the middle of town headed ‘Churches of Mariposa’ listed the following churches—Apostolic Power House, C. V. Church of Christ, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Grace Community, Lutheran, Midpines Bible, Ponderosa Basin, St Josephs Catholic, Assembly of God, Christian Science, Circle of Hope, Hillside Baptist, Mariposa Christian Fellowship, New Beginnings, Seventh- Day Adventist, United Methodist, Cathey’s Valley Baptist, Church of Christ, First Baptist, Lighthouse Fellowship, Mariposa Revival CTR, New Life Christian Fellowship, St Andrew’s Anglican and Living Water Pentecostal Church of God. The information booklet at our hotel also listed these churches, as well as Church of Jesus Christ of LDS, First Baptist Church, First Spiritualist Church, Kingdom Hall Jehovah’s Witness, Little Church in the Hills and Cathey’s Valley United Methodists Church. It went on to say ‘For other churches in the area please refer to your local Yellow Pages’.

Just before we left America, I saw a female sprinter who was preparing for the Olympics interviewed on television. ‘What will you be thinking when you kneel down to run that race in London, the culmination of your entire career, everything you’ve ever trained for?’ the interviewer asked.

‘I’ll be thinking what I always think when I kneel down,’ she replied, smiling. ‘I’ll be praying to God, to not only win, but also praying to his glory.’

Yes, the poor bastards of America have been brainwashed alright. And they’re all going straight to Hell.

Extracted from Andrew Thompson’s highly entertaining book, ‘Dog Days, tales from an American Road Trip‘.

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