Usually when a Twin Cities driver utters the Lord's name, they're just reacting to the bad behavior of another motorist. Maybe someone who doesn't know how to zipper merge.
In recent weeks, though, they might just have been reading aloud.
A highly visible billboard campaign splashed the Twin Cities area with big red, white, and blue signs reading "JESUS." That's it.
Well, except for the fine print underneath, which told eagle-eyed drivers that the prominent ad space had been bought by KTIS, a local Christian rock-and-talk radio station. The paid-for-by note resembles the disclaimer on political advertising, with its tagline, "98.5 KTIS approves this message." The reference was a deliberate one.
The appearance of the billboards was noticed by everyone with eyes and noted by a number of people on social media. A few choice reactions:
Passed a giant billboard with nothing but "Jesus" written over an American flag. I just LEFT Texas, hello Minnesota?— Joshu Creel (@sozettafelix) July 4, 2016
Now, more on this last one. Another area resident spotted one sign that was curiously placed in St. Louis Park, where it stood directly above a couple kosher businesses, and a stone's throw from Darchei Noam, a "modern Orthodox" Jewish congregation.
"What kind of jackass puts a giant JESUS billboard right above a Kosher Deli and around the corner from a Synagogue?" asks the Reddit poster. Then, answering his or her own question: "I guess the 'Christian' neighbors' at KTIS Radio."
In a subsequent thread dedicated to discussing the image, one person claiming to be an on-air personality with the station said the billboards weren't targeted for specific locations, and were placed by a billboard company. "We wouldn't intentionally do something like this," he wrote.
Asked specifically about this sign, a representative for the station didn't give a response. But she was happy to provide the thinking behind the broader campaign. The JESUS billboards appeared for "about a week" and have all been "retired" now, says Catherine Squires, a media receptionist who works for KTIS.
"As a Christian radio station," Squires continued, "we believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world, and that he is in charge, no matter what seasons our country goes through. For the upcoming election, we are reminding our country and our community to join us in prayer for our nation and its leaders. Our faith is in Jesus as our ultimate leader, and we desire to share that belief with you."
Meaning, in other words, their "KTIS approves this message" was not an act of parody, but is a very real political statement. In a time of political uncertainty and global instability, the Christians at 98.5 KTIS have taken a look at the presidential field, and, after careful consideration, decided to endorse Jesus Christ. (Christ has yet to announce his choice for running mate.)
If the KTIS billboards did manage to convert any of you these past few weeks, you are encouraged to contact Jesus Christ by putting your hands together and praying.