Jewish Journal


May 29, 2008

Even atheists have feelings


The Kern County car dealership that ran a radio ad blasting the godless is itself under attack, with critics wondering just how stupid a country-bumpkin Christian could be to dismiss 14 percent of his customer base (actually atheists account for between 3 percent and 10 percent of the U.S. population). But, in fact, Kieffe and Sons employed a tried-and-true marketing approach in this ad:

“Did you know that there are people in this country who want prayer out of schools, “Under God” out of the Pledge, and “In God We Trust” to be taken off our money?

“But did you know that 86 percent of Americans say they believe in God? Now, since we all know that 86 out of every 100 of us are Christians who believe in God, we at Kieffe and Sons Ford wonder why we don’t just tell the other 14 percent to sit down and shut up.

“I guess maybe I just offended 14 percent of the people who are listening to this message. Well, if that is the case, then I say that’s tough; this is America, folks—it’s called free speech. And none of us at Kieffe and Sons Ford are afraid to speak up. Kieffe and Sons Ford on Sierra Highway in Mojave and Rosamond: if we don’t see you today, by the grace of God, we’ll be here tomorrow.”

Rick Kieffe is backpedaling now, which should be no surprise, saying that he can’t recall approving the ad. That’s inconsequential: Kieffe and Sons Ford has already garnered international attention and, no doubt, built some serious rapport with folks who want to support this perceptively righteous battle.

Just another strange story from Kern County.


My wife hails from Bakersfield, and before I visited I always assumed it was a backward place. Having read “Mean Justice” and the “Lords of Bakersfield” series, which discussed at length a district attorney, Ed Jagels, who built his career prosecuting child-molestation rings that imprisoned dozens but never actually existed, who would disagree?

In fact, it’s a pretty decent place, a blazing hot suburb of nowhere, surrounded by the hilariously named Pumpkin Center and Weed Patch. (Disclosure: My mother-in-law has long been involved with the Chamber of Commerce and I am the owner of a coffee mug that states, “Bakersfield—Life as it should be.”)

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