I am by nature a suspicious old coot. So when I saw a local newspaper story heralding the arrival of the “I believe” license plate, my curiosity was piqued, especially since the profits from the sale went to www.IBELIEVEsc.net. H’mmmmm.
Of course I high-tailed it to the site. I was greeted on its home page by an anatomically correct version of the new plate. It was certainly eye-catching. Against a gold backdrop with the sun casting its rays in a semi-circular pattern across the entire plate, the sample was replete with 3 crucifixes positioned on a rocky mound. The horizontal letters JC were positioned just in front of the license plate number and the I Believe website address was printed across the top. South Carolina was along the bottom. Dontcha just love separation of church and state.
At the bottom of the home page, I clicked on the heading ‘Our Coalition’. There were 10 pictures of the members of the Board of Directors plastered across the page. Pretty much all of them represented right-wing church denominations. There were the Progressive, Southern and Independent Baptists (forgive me if any are ‘moderate’), a smiling frizzy-haired male evangelical, a representative of the breakaway Anglican AMIA (Anglican Mission in America) and a picture of the Chairman of the Board, a portly fellow from Hilton Head, Stu Rodman of the Evangelical Presbyterian church.
Stu had that look. That “I’ve got an agenda look”. I had to find his bio.
It was impressive. Rodman, who held a Harvard MBA, had served on then Governor Mark Sanford’s Management, Performance and Accountability Commission. You remember Sanford. He once wandered away from the Appalachian Trail and ended up in Boners Aires, banging some married chick named Maria for 6 days. Mrs. S. did not take kindly to that kind of wanderlust and wandered off herself shortly thereafter.
After leaving his service in the Sanford administration, Rodman got a call from the governor one day about four years ago asking him to consider running to represent Hilton Head Island on the Beaufort County school board.
Stu ran and won. His campaign was endorsed by the right-wing South Carolina Club for Growth. He also continued to conduct his business, an investment firm specializing in turning around manufacturing companies. Again, H’mmmmm! He’s now a member of the Beaufort County Council.
It seems brother Rodman is also the head of the South Carolina wing of the Silver Ring Thing Ministry. More surfing took me to the ‘Silver Ring Thing’ national website. SRT has been around since 1995 and its primary mission is encouraging young ladies to keep their legs together until marriage “centered in a relationship with Jesus Christ.” To that end the Silver Ring home page tells of sponsoring over 870 “keep Susie a virgin” events in 8 countries since their founding.
You can check a map on their site to see if there’s a sexual buzz kill coming near you. If you’re Catholic, for some reason you get in free. If not, you’ll have to ante up 3 – 5 bucks with an additional 3 smackers if you order by phone. Pop, don’t forget to press a $20 bill into Susie’s hand before she leaves. That’s what she’ll have to plunk down for a ‘retro’ stainless steel purity ring. If your lil’ pumpkin’ wants to be an ‘Extra’ virgin (as in Olive oil), you’re going to have to part with an additional ten bucks for the ‘Classic Sterling’ ring. I’m guessing India before you ask. I recommend taking it to your nearest jeweler when Susie gets home (if she can still walk with those legs pressed so tightly together). If it’s not real silver, it may not have real powers and some little pudge will be calling you gramps in a couple of years.
Even with the acquisition of the ring, the site is far from finished pushing all manner of spiritual bric a brac on its visitors. Mommy and Daddy can even have their very own rings. The parent ring package is only $25.95 per. How about a 6 buck study guide or a ‘keep me away from the kid with the motorcycle’ wrist band for 5 smackers. Tees, Buttons, videos, books – they’ve got ‘em all and then some; just keep clicking on ‘Add to Cart’.
There’s money swirling around in them holy hills and I would suspect the investment guy may be getting his hands on some of it. Commercializing God isn’t illegal mind you, it’s just sort of morally icky!
Cash Strapped Red States Raise Money by Violating the Separation of Church and State was written by Dennis S for PoliticusUSA.