Let the show begin…
Starting the day after Thanksgiving the whole country is on sale. That’s when it gears up; in many cases some merchants make 80 to 90 percent of their gross during that narrow window due mainly to the religious allegation that Jesus was born on the 25th of December. I’m told that date has never been totally affirmed but it is close enough. This also fills the churches as well, people who never attend all year fill the pews at the end of the year in hopes of gaining some points towards their own salvation.
We are a religious country, our landscape is proliferated with houses of worship and at the same time television channels offer additional choices as to where to send your money.
I stood in the counting room of Jimmy Swaggart’s vast complex in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and watched a staff of volunteers count the money as it was pulled from large U.S.Postal canvas bags and pushed down a waist high table that was 30 feet long. There were about 6 of those tables in the room. Some $600,000.00 a day arrived into that facility I was told by the gentleman who was providing the guided tour for me. The money came in both cash and checks. The women who were opening each envelope volunteered their time as did most everyone who worked there. The only ones who were paid were Jimmy’s relatives. All of that cash flow came crashing down when they caught Jimmy in a motel with a hooker.
I went there to sell a marketing program but failed in my attempt, however I did come away with a contract to produce all of his “Cross & Dove” lapel pins. They ordered 500,000 at a time. Jimmy would hold up a pin during every broadcast and say; “This pin is yours free, just tell us where to send it..” Once they acquired your address they would flood your mail box with mail all year asking for money.
I was also in the headquarters of the “Moral Majority” in Lynchburg, Va., I was there to sell a religious marketing program to Jerry Falwell. I came away with a contract to produce all his luggage that was used in his Holy Land Crusades. Falwell would promote a trip to the Holy Land a couple times a year; the people who bought it were mostly other clergy from across the country. These minsters would pay a lump sum for the trip which included a set of luggage….I made the luggage. I’ll bet few of you who read this realize I was so deep into religion. These television evangelists were some of the finest pitch men to be found anywhere in the country, and with my background in aluminum siding sales I could more or less speak their language fluently….or lets just say we just understood each other with little problem.
Now a little background on the guy who gave me the tour. I have long forgotten his name…but never his story. This guy owned the Pepsi distributorship in Columbus, Ohio with a population of slightly over 700,000. He told me he had attended a crusade that Jimmy Swaggart held in Columbus and after which he sold his Pepsi distributorship, took his children out of school and gave his life to the lord by following and working for Swaggart at a greatly reduced salary. See what the lord can do.
And now the new year is within arms reach and with it will come a new sideshow headed up by Eric Bookmeyer; after sitting at the table with the likes of Swaggart and Falwell……seeing through this want-a-be mayor is like looking through a freshly washed window. Let the show begin……..
Peter J. Children