September 21, 2006

I Found God at the Gas Station

I was running a little late for work this morning, but the tank was getting close to empty. I stopped for gas at the same station I usually use. A tanker truck was there and in the midst of refilling the station's underground tank. No other cars were around, so I wondered if they had to shut the pumps off temporarily while they refilled the tanks. However, since there was no clear evidence of this, I proceeded.

Everything was normal, and the pump took my credit card without any trouble. As I reached for the nozzle, I noticed that a something was hanging from the handle. I figured it might be a notice of inspection or something, but I took a closer look when the nozzle didn't seem to operate properly. This was not an inspection notice, it was a small brochure advertising a local Baptist church. It had been inserted into the handle of the nozzle so that it had to be removed in order for the nozzle to function. The brochure prominently displayed an invitation to salvation and the church's name and address on the cover.

After throwing it in the nearby trash, I noticed another one stuck to the pump, then another, and several on the ground. I glanced behind me to see that the other pumps also had several brochures on them. I'd estimate that each had at least 4 brochures attached to them, but several had apparently blown off and were littering the ground.

My first reaction was disgust that someone would so carelessly litter with their obnoxious efforts to convert others to their superstition. Assuming that littering is illegal (and it might not be here in Mississippi judging by the endless piles of garbage lining every street), would any law enforcement agent enforce such a law when it was broken by Baptists? I would guess not. Then I started to wonder whether someone actually thought blanketing a gas station with religious propaganda would be effective. As much as it baffles me how anyone could think this would bring their church new recruits, I must remember that there the majority of Americans actually believe that supernatural beings exist and somehow influence the natural world. Thus, no set of beliefs is too absurd to be held by reasonably large groups of people.

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