Posted by: SteveInCO | 22 Oct 2012

You Know It’s The Bible Belt When…

I recently had occasion to be driving on I-40 from Oklahoma City (which, unlike Kansas City, is actually in the state of the same name) west to Amarillo, TX.

I first saw this mondo cross probably about 45 miles east of Amarillo.  I was able to bring my camera to bear and operate it one handed; this is the best picture (once cropped and shrunk) for getting a feel for the size of the thing.

Gigantic cross next to a church in the middle of nowhere.

This cross is next to a large church, out in the middle of nowhere.

There wasn’t much to speak of around this building; it’s a large church in the middle of nowhere.

I’ve seen crosses like this–exactly like this complete with diamond cross section and pointed tips–in other places.  One further east on I-40 that I remember from a previous trip even has billboards proudly announcing to oncoming traffic that it is the largest cross in the world.

[Update, 2 March 2013.  This is the Groom TX cross.  (http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/1912) which is just a few inches shorter than the Effingham cross (http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/10913) which is the one I remember… and that cross is on Interstate 57/70 in Illinois, contrary to my faulty recollection of where I had seen it.  A bigger one is being built in Branson, Missouri.]

It’s not obvious from this picture, but the flat planes of the cross are all made out of corrugated roofing material, similar to metal roofs you see on some modern construction, especially in hail prone areas like mine.   I imagine the builder erects a framework and then simply bolts the sheet metal onto it.

It’s also not obvious from this picture, but there is a lightning rod on the top of the cross.  Apparently someone is worried that god might take aim at what his supposedly his chosen symbol.  So here’s a cropping of a picture I took a couple of seconds later.

Apparently they have to worry that Yahweh might not like their handiwork.

You can also see the roof corrugations, and the fact that the edges all use the same sort of flashing metal roofs use.

OK, so that’s a bit of brobdingnagian Christokitsch for the highway travel.  I then spotted this–then had to backtrack to photograph it because I found it difficult to believe my eyes:

A statement, or did they actually name their business “Jesus Christ Is Lord”?

I had to wonder:  did these folks actually name their travel center “Jesus Christ Is Lord,” or is the different color an indication that they were just making a statement of faith?

19 miles later, on the eastern edge of Amarillo, I had a pretty good indication:

Oh Lordy, they did name it “Jesus Christ Is Lord!” (I like the bit about it not being a swear word.)

So you see here not only the billboard (complete with commandment to take Exit 77 right now) but more text all over the awning above the diesel stations, and even “Jesus Christ Is Lord” on the side of a trailer.

As you drive in to gas up, you are reminded Jesus is in charge. Of course that might not be a good thing to think about when you figure he must have set the gas prices then.

And here there’s preaching just before the BOHICA moment of buying your diesel.  Which come to think of it is much like serving as an altar boy at many Catholic churches.

The panel on the right is illegible by the time I shrink the photo down so it will fit here, but says “The Lord Jesus Christ The Same Yesterday And Today And Forever”

I pulled over at the next exit, went to a different travel center, and (while paying for a snack) asked the cashier if that was truly the name of the place just up the road, and she said yes it was–she seemed mildly disgusted with it in fact; I guess this guy is over the top even for the bible belt.  I then pointed out that clearly this person was not interested in selling to any Jewish truck drivers.  Not that I know any.  I did mention knowing a couple of atheist drivers and she said words to the effect that she did have some Jewish customers and even a couple of agnostics… “…WHATEVER”–in an impatient, verging on angry, tone of voice.  This anger being from someone who is not off the deep end like the owner of the JCIL Travel Center; one must wonder how he’d react to someone walking through his door and proudly announcing their atheism.

The “Jesus Christ Is Lord Travel Center.”  Folks, I simply cannot make stuff like this up!

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Responses

  1. Steve that must be an interesting place to drive through. I think I will do a similar thing for what I see here in Nairobi where there are places there are churches 10 metres apart!

    • I live near Colorado Springs, which at least according to the Wikipedia article on the Bible Belt, is not quite part of the Bible Belt. But you sure wouldn’t know it driving through some parts of town. The Bible Belt has clearly metastasized here, like a cancerous tumor giving rise to other tumors in the body. It’s called the Evangelical Capital of the world because so many evangelical organizations are headquartered here, such as Focus on the Family, the Navigators, Young Life, etc.

      This travel center, though, beats anything I’ve seen in Colorado Springs, by a long shot.

      Colorado Springs, by the way, is where Richard Dawkins spent quite a lot of time while filming a documentary of his, “Root of All Evil?” I remember watching the first few minutes of it, thinking the rock formations he was walking amongst reminded me of Garden of the Gods park, and deciding that had to be coincidence, why should he be here? Then later on I practically fell out of my shoes with astonishment when I saw shots of churches I knew (like Circle Drive Baptist), taken from inside the car he was driving, as he starts talking about Colorado Springs. (He interviewed Ted Haggard and an associate of an abortion clinic shooter.) At which point it became clear that he was, indeed, in Garden of the Gods park at the beginning of the show. (Incidentally I’ve seen no suggestion that the quite pagan-sounding name of the park be changed. Yet.)

      • Ah so your part of the country has over time divorced the bible belt and getting more rational.
        When I get to do it, I think the most interesting thing about churches here are actually their names. Maybe since the population is mainly christian, public transport buses, trucks and so on always have a some Jesus message and still end up in accidents, maybe god is just too bust doing other things to prevent the accidents.


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