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The Way of NASCAR

According to a recent National Public Radio report, several Democratic presidential hopefuls are looking for ways to reach a previously untapped source of potential voters that has been identified in the world of stock car racing. They have dubbed this potential voter group “NASCAR Dads.” This is not an insignificant group. NASCAR attracts over 75 million fans nationwide.

According to NPR, most of these fans are white males. They are blue collar workers for the most part, and are generally dissatisfied with the way things are going in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />America. Political consultants are telling candidates that if they are able to address the disgruntled feelings of these fans, they will have a good shot at gaining the support of this powerful bloc of votes.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
In fact, when Democratic hopeful Bob Graham from Florida found out that three out of every four NASCAR fans buy the products they see advertised at races, the former governor immediately bought a truck to follow the race circuit.  Decorated in typical NASCAR style, the truck touts its “Graham for President” message right there with the beer and motor oil ads.
 
It seems to me that what might work for politics might also work for religion. Judge Roy Moore and his followers want to use the Ten Commandments to publicly acknowledge God. For the time being, however, Judge Moore’s monument is tucked away out of sight in a closet in the Alabama state judicial building. It will stay there until the Supreme Court decides whether or not to hear the case. But with the help of NASCAR the Ten Commandments need not remain out of sight.
 
What would happen if Judge Moore took the money he is spending on his legal battle and built a first rate race car. Instead of motor oil or spark plug sponsors, however, this car would have one single message—well ten messages, actually—the Ten Commandments.
 
The visual effect would be stunning. The actual commandments printed in bold colorful letters on the hood, doors, and trunk of a sleek and flashy stock racer. As television cameras zoom in on the cars as they fly around the track the Ten Commandments would stand out in bold relief for all to see and read. There could even be a replica of the monument painted on the roof of the car for shots from the Goodyear blimp.
 
Other sports have moved slowly in this direction. We’ve all seen football players point heavenward when they score a touchdown or fans hold up “John 3:16” posters. But a Ten Commandments race car would once and for all get God out of the stands and into the game.
 
The up side is that there is nothing illegal about any of this. NASCAR races are public events, but they are not state supported. There is no way a Ten Commandments car could be a violation of church and state separation. The Ten Commandments would simply be competing for attention with all the other sponsors.
 
The impact here could be momentous. If the statistics are true and three out of every four NASCAR fans buy the products they see advertised at the race, a Ten Commandments stock car could spark a nationwide revival.
 
And if the car turned out to be a winner, that would only serve as further proof of the importance of the Commandments in our lives. I can see the headline now: “God’s word leads the pack at Daytona and Talladega.” Acknowledgement doesn’t get any bigger than that.
 
James L. Evans is pastor of Crosscreek Baptist Church in Pelham, Ala.