When did every billboard in the Portland metro area become infiltrated by the religious right? They are everywhere!

—Zory

"AFTER YOU DIE, YOU WILL MEET GOD." This promise of celestial backstage passes has dominated local billboards for a few months now (along with other similarly Jesus-y messages), always urging us to call 855-FOR-TRUTH. In secular Portland? What gives?

I don't drop this often, Zory, but I was raised as a Jehovah's Witness. (Seriously. I'll let you decide whether this fact is a total shock or completely unsurprising.)

I mention this because those who haven't spent time with the tent-revival set may not realize how important converting unbelievers, for its own sake, really is for evangelicals. When I was a kid, it was basically our No. 1 priority after not having sex.

The goal of evangelizing isn't to get people to hate abortion or vote Republican. It's not even to save your fellow man from eternal damnation, really. It's just a numbers game: The more souls you rack up, the better God likes you.

Like all pyramid schemes, this one provides easy pickings if you get in on the ground floor (I hear the Apostle Paul just bought himself a sick bass boat). Later generations, however—possibly sitting on a garage full of Eternalife® products their co-workers are sick of hearing about—may need to do some open-air advertising if they hope to juice sales.

The billboards are up nationwide, and are the work of "Gospel Billboards," which is in turn an arm of Christian Aid Ministries, which is a real charity.

Callers can listen to prerecorded messages explaining the theological points expressed in each billboard, be connected to a live, soul-hungry believer, or listen to a brief (I'm assuming; I didn't make it to the end) sermon about loneliness.

Maybe it's worth a shot—they say every time God closes a door, He opens a window. Of course, sometimes He forgets to mention you're on the 16th floor.

QUESTIONS? Send them to dr.know@wweek.com.

(Devin Amato)
(Devin Amato)